I have read your website and it’s postings with great interest. With the exception of a few it seems that being an only child is perceived as a negative thing, and seems to have had a predominantly detrimental impact on many of your readers and contributors lives.
I can relate to many of the observations, not being able to play board games alone (although I had a bloody good try), the worry of ending up alone should anything happen to your parents (I live with this to this day) , and the jealousy of others and their relationships with their siblings. I never thought anyone felt that way, as I did, and as I expect we all have at one time or another.
I am the only child of two devoted older parents, I am now 24, my father will be 77 this year and my mother 67. When I was a child I felt in many ways alone, but never for long. My Mum had longed to have more children, but had left it too late and so she and my father went out of their way to drive me to friend’s houses and organize activities for me at home.
Of course I envied my friends who had sisters and brothers of their age, but I also recognized siblings as a hindrance as well, I was particularly good friends with two sisters who lived next door throughout my childhood and saw them warring and raging at each other, I didn’t envy that!
My childhood home was peaceful and as I was only ‘one’ my parents made a concerted effort never to be angry with me at the same time so I always had one friendly face to find in our house. My friendships have been made more durable as a result. My friendship group comprises of friends found in both primary and secondary schools and then throughout university, I am confident that I could confide in any of them my deepest darkest secrets, no less than I would a sibling, and perhaps even more.
Boyfriends and partners have not even mentioned my single sibling status, I have no annoying younger sisters to embarrass them when they came to the family home, or no older brothers to give them the once over when they walked through the door. Only occasionally did I get called a spoilt only child, but then I think it’s due to envy from my peers than anything, my parents didn’t have the financial restraints of a larger family, although they were both retired by the time I finished school. They have always given me their time and understanding willingly, trying to related to a teenager tearing in and out of their house and the trials and tribulations that came with my adolescence. Perhaps more so than other parents did their children.
I was admittedly, an indulged child. If I were to say spoilt my father would laugh and my mother disagree. But I know in truth I was, I was the centre of my parent’s world, the result of their life together and into me all their energies were channeled. That is true even today, but I idolize both of my parents despite the rows and disagreements that still occur. I would not replace them for the world, even though in younger spiteful moments I longed for a family the opposite of my own, with young parents and copious siblings. As I’ve got older I’ve realized that I wouldn’t want any other family life than I have known.
You have to make the best of what you have unless you want to be constantly haunted by dissatisfaction. My mother would never stand for me to feel sorry for myself, and made me realize that if I didn’t enjoy my own company who else would? One day my parent’s will not be with me, and I’ll miss being able to pick up the phone and ask my Dad something practical, a ‘how to’ question, or gossip with my Mum about what’s gone on (or wrong) with our day. And most of all I will have no one to ask about our family or what happened ‘when they were young’, so instead I ask them now, while they can tell me, and I appreciate their company and companionship everyday rather than wish for brothers and sisters and another life I’ve never known.