Are parents from large families more likely to be enmeshed with their only child?

by on December 23, 2015

in Emails

I was very happy to receive this email, its always nice to receive positive feedback so I thought I would share it. Despite having several times half written an ‘e’ version of my research, at present my one book is still very expensive which is sadly the case with academic books. My writer refers to a story about “Sofia” which illustrated the importance of witness in an onlies life, meaning an acknowledgment of the experience both positive and negative of growing up as an only child.

“Today I was fortunate to read your book “Only-Child Experience and Adulthood”. What a great body of work! One part of the book that stood out most to me was Sofia’s story. You described how she had seen various therapists before, but you were the first to help her see herself in both an objective and subjective way. I can’t assume the birth orders of her previous therapists, but I also think that you being an only child and acknowledging her perspective of this experience was also extremely helpful.

On one hand, our birth order has negative stereotypes that people internalize. On the other hand, non-onlies tell us things like, “Get over feeling sorry about your birth order” or “Having siblings isn’t everything”. Since our birth order is so rare, its implications really aren’t discussed or are minimized when do seriously impact our lives for better or worse. Even though I grew up in a two-parent household (which is increasingly rare in the African-American community), I always felt like I missed out on a real family experience that bothers me to this day. Your book really shows that we need to have serious discussions about this on a wider scale or else people will suffer in silence due to the lack of support and other issues they may have from being raised alone.

I also related a lot to the experiences of your co-authors who felt more independence after leaving home to go overseas. Right now I’m doing a postgraduate degree in London for a year. It’s so refreshing to be on my own. My parents miss me a lot; my mother even e-mailed me to say that I should call them at least once a week), but I just don’t feel the need for it. I’ve lived with them for 22 years of my life and think they need to learn how to live without me being present all the time.

The enmeshment in my family must stem from my parents’ upbringing. Both of them came from large families where they lacked sufficient personal attention. I wasn’t planned, but they did offer me a lot of
material goods and personal input they must of lacked. Still, I they should have been less over-protective; I was never allowed to go to birthday parties for classmates as a kid even though I was well-liked.
I have yet to have my first romantic relationship and I’ll be 23 soon; they didn’t allow me to date when younger. No parent is perfect, of course, but sometimes I feel like the best people to raise only
children may be only children who are conscientious about the benefits and challenges of the experience.

It just seems like the dissimilarity of birth orders between parent and child also negatively impacts only children and merits more discussion as well.”

Would anyone like to share their thoughts on this question?

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