Only child of the 80′s

by on September 1, 2013

in Guest Onlies

Here is another post of an only child, Lucy, describes growing up in the 80′s and some of the good and bad aspects of that experience. The significance of ageing parents is notable, especially as the relationship has at times been difficult, perhaps in part because of the older nature of the parents. I think this is a case of over-protective parenting. Whilst over-protective parenting may be seen as love it can also be detrimental to the separation process of a child from their parent. This shows itself in Lucy’s guilty feelings and difficulties in feeling okay about saying no to the pressure of being continually in contact and the sense of not being seen as an adult/grown-up either by them or by herself. Still there are lots of good things too – so have a read!

Lucy: I’m a nearly 40 something only child which has had some good and some bad effects on me.

My parents were older than most when they had me 35 and 36. I’m nearly 40 now. I had terrible night terrors and they had an awful time trying to get me to either sleep in my own bed or through the night with out me creeping into bed with them! But I think that was to do with attachment issues. They were strict and my Mum was always quick to panic about things, even now as a 75 year old she grabs my arm when I cross the road, and is jumpy when I’m driving! My parents were older and old fashioned.

I clearly remember my mum saying to me as an 11 year old that she didn’t want me to grow up, and I think she still doesn’t! They couldn’t really handle me too well as a hormonal teenager, and as they were strict, I rebelled. I remember one Christmas when I was about 20, I had my nose pierced, and even though I removed it, my Dad wouldn’t speak to me for days! Dad had a bad childhood which has really effected him, and I have a range of emotions ranging daily from feeling guilty, to feeling free in my own life now.

Feeling loved and safe

I do remember feeling loved and safe when I was little, but I didn’t ever want to be away from my home and my mum especially. I still feel homesick even though I have a nice house and hometown with friends. One other thing-  for years I had really really bad homesickness, I could never work out if it was missing my parents, or where I lived…I used to get everso upset. It seems to have eased in the last couple of years.

I live 3 hrs away from my parents. My Mum always seemed very nervous of things, from learning to drive, and situations, although she is very bossy and opinionated. I think its made me very nervous and over sensitive to things too.

My Dad is emotionally distant, and rather than talking about things he just sulks and drinks too much too. He feels sorry for himself. Things didn’t go very well in his career. So now I have a nicer house and lifestyle I worry he is jealous and resentful. As older people now, they can be both negative and bitter about things, and when I do leave after a stay, normally my dad says. “Well that went by so quickly again, sup’ose you have to go!” – So of course I feel guilty!

Worry about ageing parents

I feel the worry of having ageing parents in there 70′s and only me really to look out for them. I feel under pressure to call home regularly. I try to make it every couple of days, any longer; well it’s not worth it! I don’t feel as if I have a proper grown up relationship with them, its like they have me frozen in time. I suppose I’m lucky in a way that I haven’t aged that much physically since being 20, so in their eyes I’m the same.

My personality

I’m a perfectionist, which is exhausting, and a people pleaser, and I work hard. I do feel very guilty that I am not near by and have suggested they move near me, but as usual my Dad won’t talk to me about it!

I never wanted children, and I don’t know if how I was raised had something to do with that, (Mum was always terrified I would get pregnant) she said once that she could ever picture me with a baby in a kind of shocked voice! We also never discussed the birds and the bees ever!

I must add that my friends do comment on how good I am with kids! I’m sensitive, creative, a people pleaser, a perfectionist. I pick up on people’s emotions really easily, so I suppose you could say I was over sensitive.

On a good note: my friends say I’m funny too. Oh and I love animals!


  • Tom

    I can relate to a lot of what you had to say because my parents had me when they were older as well. My father had been married previously and had two sons but the marriage ended because his first wife cheated on him. I was overprotected by my parents and I had a hard time with being away from them as a child. One time in first grade we were supposed to go have a sleepover at another school and I was absolutely terrified so I told my mother that I couldn’t go and to tell the teacher I was sick that day and I stayed home from school. When I was in fifth grade,we went camping and the teacher had to have a family friend talk to my mother to convince her to let me attend. My father told me after I got home that my mother awoke that first night panicking because she forgot I was at camp. My parents were traditional and old fashioned because we are Chinese and they were strict with me.
    I was terrified at the prospect of losing them because they were my only family and when my mother passed away and left me and my father,he clung to me in that whenever I went out with my friends he would constantly call me to see when I was coming home. That really annoyed me and my friends would all laugh at me because they all had siblings. In the case of my best friend,she has 5 siblings. All of them are also Chinese but none of their parents or older siblings phoned to check in on them.

    When my father was nearing the end,it took quite a toll on me in that I lived in cold terror at the thought he would leave me all alone.
    Luckily,my two half brothers and some relatives from my father’s side of the family tried to help me through it all after he passed,but,it still hurt really badly.
    I see myself as a sole survivor of my family in that all of my extended family only really came into my life later after my mother’s passing so I still feel somewhat like an outsider even though they care about me.

    My parents were over protective of me in that in grade six I took a chance and joined my school’s floor hockey team with my friends and only got to play a few games before my mother took me off of the team to the disappointment of my teacher.
    In all my life,I have only met at most three other onlies and they were all boys like me in my childhood,but,what seperated them from me was that they all had extended families in their lives while I had only sporadic contact with my father’s side of the family as a child because my mother didn’t get along with them.
    I am so glad to have found this site and to read of similar experiences from others who are also onlies because everyone else I know are from big families. Thanks for letting me share.

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