Did being an only child affect your parenting?

by on June 18, 2011

in Bernice responds


I was curious to know if you happened to have any children of your own. If so, do you think that being an only child affected how you could relate to them as a parent? My mom says that certain traits she possessed as a child differed from mine because of our birth orders. She was the youngest of many kids, but I was the only one, and sharing is something I sometimes struggle with. Thanks!

Bernice’s Response:

Yes I have two children!

I had one initially and then realsing I was an only and my husband was an only  my son would have neither siblings or cousins which at least we both had- So I decided to have another child very promptly! It was the best decision I ever made because I learn more about sibling interaction from then than I would ever have done otherwise. I have since remarried – another only child – and yes sharing is definitely one of those aspects that is a challenge. Both may parents were the youngest of four and had to share and I think having only one child gave them an opportunity not to share but of course that had repercussions too!

Has my being an only child affected the way I relate to them as a parent?

Yes I think it has, mainly from the point of view I often wanted to join in and be a child with them! I also think I fluctuated from being a ‘parent’ or ‘child’ to them and not so often, initially, as an adult. I think this is an interesting question as from my own experience as a therapist I think that only children do struggle to find their genuine ‘adult’ as we often function with a ‘grown-up’ persona from a young age which is more often based on our internalised parents’ than autonomous adult. Hence the importance of psychologically separating as I have often written about.

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