aloneness

How only child prejudice affects the family

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 [...]

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Life Stages – Late Adulthood

Bernice continues her discussion of Life Stages from the perspective of the only-child adult. After the  Middle Adult life-stage, when we are actively involved in generativity – that is helping the next generation either through raising children or contributing to the welfare of future generations in paid or voluntary work – we arrive at Late Adulthood. (Erikson 1959) sees Late Adulthood as a time when people come to terms with their lives and reassess what they have done or achieved in the light of what they still would like to do. At this stage people are focused towards the latter years of their lives. This life stage is a time that can be particularly difficult for the adult only child who by now often has very little, if any family. This is a time when some people can feel despair. For the adult only child, a sense of despair can [...]

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What are the most significant concerns for adult onlies? – Aging and dying parents.

  I have noticed that many adult onlies write emails about the difficulties of managing elderly parents. It is often harder to cope with – when you are the only one. Part of this is the responsibility of care, both emotional and physical, but there is also the realisation of how becoming an orphan will affect us, when our parents die. My own research and a piece of research undertaken in the US by Roberts and White Blanton (2001) concluded that ‘aging parents was the main concern for the young adults interviewed.’  They were also anxious about outliving their parents, and appear to feel a ‘lack of lifespan continuity’. What this means, is the sense that many of us have after our parents’ die that there is no one left to be a witness to our lives. (Sibling adults only experience this later in life if they are the remaining [...]

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Only-child Challenges and How Counsellors Can Help. ©

The Journal of Counselling Children and Adolescence: October 2006 by Dr Bernice Sorensen An only-child’s experience of growing up without siblings may mean that they are unprepared for many of the emotional and social demands of formal education. Even as young adults, an only-child can find the tension between their need for separateness and togetherness difficult to negotiate. Counsellors can offer a great deal to these young people when sensitive to some of the challenges they face. A recent article in the TES (1) reported that most teachers did not think only-children had special problems. However, a new project was set up to train ‘listeners’, in the Durham area found that 50% of the first referrals were only-children. My own experience of only-children is three-fold. First as an only-child, I am well aware of the challenges I met interacting with others and negotiating both friendships and intimate relationships as a [...]

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