I received this email from ‘Jo’ which I think contrasts very well both the prejudice parents of only children face as well as that of only-children themselves. Jo also describes how the idea of a sibling is so dear to her as well.
I am so thankful to find your site! I have often times thought of starting something of my own in order to connect with other “onlies.”
I have always hated being the only child. Both of my parents come from large families, and I had many cousins. All of them except one had siblings. Even though I knew I was loved by them, I always felt different, an outsider. Another problem I encountered was the prejudice against only children:
As a child I was very sensitive to what others would say. I wanted to fit in. In Kindergarten I made up a story that I had several siblings. Of course, my teacher made me tell the truth. I think I did this in part because I did have a large extended family and I realized my situation was different than most.
At times adults would say things about me being an only child in a derogatory fashion. I felt that I was inadequate, something bad, something not to be desired; yet, I had nothing to do with it. It wasn’t my choice.
I’ve had people also be critical of my parents, even though my mother lost my sibling during pregnancy and almost died, too. She could not have any more. Even a doctor made a statement to me in a derogatory tone about “Why didn’t your parents have more children?” Really??? I couldn’t believe it. I have had so many people say negative things about only children directly to me, as though they don’t even realize they are talking to one and it could hurt my feelings! On the other hand, I’ve had people tell me , “You don’t seem like an only child.” I think that is what is called a “left-handed compliment.” I have been shocked over and over at the rudeness of people throughout the years. I don’t have room to write the insults I have received without people even knowing who I am–sometimes having just me me.
I longed for someone to love me truly as a sister. And even though I felt very close to them, I knew that they did not love me as much as their siblings. I was by myself.
So, I lived in a fantasy world much of the time in which I was their sister. I convinced myself that they really loved me as a sister. But, time and time again over the years, I have come up on the short-end of the stick. For even if someone tells you they do love you as a sister, blood is thicker than water. When it comes down to it, you are just a cousin or a friend. They are always more loyal to their siblings.
Even though I probably shouldn’t have, I had two more children after my firstborn so that he would not have to suffer the prejudices against only children and would not have to feel so alone. However, it is sad to me, that my three children are not even close, and they do not appreciate each other. It breaks my heart. I have often wondered why “God” would let my sibling die, why my personality so horribly suited for an only child, but I am one; and, yet, my children would all have made good only children, but aren’t! Jo