attention

Some recent emails describing the only-child expereince

Bernice: Here are two emails from different parts of the world, both have families and are happy but have had challenges as only-children. A Female only: I am profoundly deaf, age 45 and loving partner with 2 teenagers and a baby. I live in Essex, my father passed away 12 years ago and my mum live in Warwickshire. I’m an only child which I do hate be an only child and often find lonely. It’s took me long time to realise what kind of my mum is and I think my mum might be a Narcissistic because for example my mum and her sister are looking after my grandmother whose have dementia. This week my aunt is away in holiday so I asked mum can she come over to see me because mum haven’t meet my 3 months old daughter yet. So mum said mum is unwell with ear pain, long term sinus and piles which she claimed the nurse [...]

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How siblings help us ‘to see’ ourselves

We have recently had a number of posts from parents of onlies and also some onlies themselves, who have not been particularly happy about being the only child in the family. I thought I would post some of my own thoughts and experiences to add to this discussion. I believe the only-child experience, that is growing up with no siblings with whom to interact is a different one. Whilst it is not unique it is still different to one where a child has the opportunity to grow up with siblings.  Siblings like parents, mirror you and teach you things about yourself. Parents primarily engage with us in caring ways, and model adult aspects of behaviour and emotional intelligence. From this we can learn to grow up and mature and also have the image of ourselves as warm, confident, and loving people, as this is what has hopefully been mirrored to [...]

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Never have just one!

Here is an email sharing the experience of going through your parents divorce as an only child and the repercussions which ensue. I personally resonated with similar messages I received as an only – ‘that I was lucky’! not to have a sibling. However I have found that most onlies do not feel particularly lucky having missed out on the rough and tumble of sibling activity or the potential close relationships with a sibling in later life. Particularly as the writer states, dealing with elderly parents can be so much better if there is someone to share the problems and difficulties. As you can read the writer concludes it is far better to have more than one child. I am also aware that this is quite a contentious issue, as there has been a great deal of pressure to make the idea of the one child family the norm. Many [...]

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An email from a partner of an only

I think it is always useful to receive emails from non-onlies who have partners who are onlies as it gives us an outsider perspective. This email, from “June”, shows some of the difficulties I have outlined in my series of posts entitled: Are only child adults difficult partners?  some of the aspects that can arise in relationships. In this email the balance of attention and power in partner relationships versus  parent ones are discussed and I would love to hear some view points from people in a similar position. Bernice  I am the partner of an only child who has a very close relationship with his mother. She is divorced from his father and lives alone in another country. He moved away to live with his father (due to better schooling opportunities/ a scholarship) when he was 13 and I think he has felt guilty about this ever since. His mother re-married [...]

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Are only children happier? Bernice responds to recent articles that say they are.

Households with a single child now outnumber those with two (by more than half a million) and make up 46 per cent of all families. An article in the The Daily Mail stated that recent research concluded only children were happier than sibling children: Why an only child is happier than those who have brothers and sisters. Similarly the Observer article:  An only child is a happy child  claimed, from the same research: that because children with siblings encounter sibling rivalry and reduced parental attention, and worse still sibling bullying, an only child must be happier simply because they do not have a sibling. More recently “The Week” also published a similar article: Are Only Children Happier? Is this true? First of all, the research as far as I have read, is based on a large scale survey conducted in Britain by the Economic and Social Research Council. It does [...]

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Does anyone else feel guilt and presssure from their parent’s?

I found your website very interesting. I am in my mid thirties and as an only child can relate to many of the issues that were discussed in your research interviews. One thing which I have lived with (and continue to do so) is the guilt and pressure you feel when you are the sole focus of your parents attention. My dad had me when he was in his early forties and I was very much a daddy’s girl, my parents divorced and he died recently. I found that the more ill he became the more distant I became towards him since I found the guilt of trying to live my own life overwhelming and couldn’t stand the pressure of this guilt which was not coming from him but from me. Of course now he is no longer here I feel terrible and wish I could have done things differently. [...]

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I don’t regret being a singleton!

I am the quintessential only child. I am an only child, and on my mother’s side was the only grandchild and only great-grandchild for 18 years. As my parents seperated when I was very young and I was then raised by my mother with very little association with my father, I did not and do not now know my paternal cousins. Certainly there are distinct disadvantages to being an only. It has taken me a long time to realize that people tease others jokingly when they like them as often as they tease others cruelly when they don’t. My chosen profession as a copy editor points to my extreme perfectionistic tendencies. The white-hot attention paid to me by my mother, grandparents and great-grandparents was as much of a gift as it was a curse and I fight the tendency to run back to the comfort of my “by myself “safe [...]

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