conflict

An email from a partner of an only: negotiation and conflict.

Joanne: I’m married to an only child. He has twin brothers that are 10 years younger than him, and that’s why I consider him an only child. (His parents are still together btw, no separation there) I am an oldest child of eight kids. I read your post about how only children deal with conflict. It was very enlightening and I experience the some of the same issues with my husband. I have been learning more about how he handles conflict since we have been looking for a new house. I have a really hard time getting any kind of resolution or conclusion from our discussions. I usually get very upset because it just seems like he says his piece and then he doesn’t understand my side of the argument. It feels like I can get some kind of closure after an agreement with anyone but my own husband! How [...]

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Do parents of only children tend to be more passive-aggressive and/or narcissistic?

I thought this was an interesting question put to me in the following email: “Is passive-aggressive and narcissistic behaviour usually common among parents of onlies? Because my parents have been that way all through my marriage, and since I’ve stood up to them they’ve been worse, almost to the point of manipulation. I find myself angry a lot because they just won’t be adults and have the emotional maturity to recognize things could be a lot better. I find myself wondering what I should be thinking and doing- I have trouble thinking for myself, and question if I’m right. It’s tough. Any help or advice would be great.” Tom I considered that it might be useful to respond to these questions. However I would also like to open it to others to give their experience.I suppose my first reaction is no I don’t think this statement “Do parents of only [...]

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Parent or Spouse? : Dealing with Conflict and Anger

In my previous post to C, I outlined the consequences that an enmeshed parental relationship can have on both parties. I will continue with this theme and explore the conflict and anger that these types of relationships can lead to and how this can be challenged in a constructive way. Conflict is a normal part of a relationship because we are individuals with different experiences, expectations, hopes and fears. When we are in a close relationship with anyone there will be times when conflict emerges through difference. This is perfectly healthy. It is how it is managed that can create problems. If we take the enmeshed relationship, where both parties feel responsible for the other and no sense of a separate identity has been encouraged, conflict can feel devastating. It is almost as if you are at war with your self. This is because in a sense you are, having [...]

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A perspective from the 1940′s

Dear Bernice The other night I could not sleep as I was so full of anger and frustration. I wondered if it was anything to do with being an only child and I looked on the internet to see if there was anything about it there. I found your site, amongst others, and was amazed at the similar experiences of only children and their partners, especially the dealing with conflict part. I am an only child, now in my seventies My parents married young and parted when I was born, not at that time because they did not get on but because of my father joining the RAF. Apparently he was in a reserved occupation and only joined up when there was an announcement for volunteers by young men (even if they were in reserved occupations) to join the Air Force if they were in reserved occupations. My father immediately volunteered and became a pilot. My mother was apparently not impressed with [...]

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Are only child adults difficult partners? (Conflict)

Only child adult challenges in relationships: 1.  Introduction 1.   Dealing with the need for space and intimacy 2.  Dealing with conflict 3.  Dealing with one’s own parents I am continuing with the theme of only child adults as partners and having looked at the first two of the four issues I believe only child adult can be challenged by, I am now going to revisit conflict. Dealing with Conflict  I have already written about this in ‘So how does the only child adult deal with conflict?’ which I can sum up here by saying that:- we tend to avoid dealing with it appropriately! Instead, on the one hand, we either deny we are upset, sulk, or walk out or on the other hand, we indulge in out-bursts of fury and hostility. The appropriate way, is to be calm, talk about the issues involved, be open to the other person’s opinion, negotiate and find a win – win solution. Any [...]

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How having children gave me a new perspective on sibling-relationships

I don’t think it was until I had children that I fully began to understand the extent of what I had missed out, both good and bad, on being brought up an only child. Watching my children play, argue, compete as well as ignore each other, I began to get a flavour of what it would be like to have a sibling. I could see having another child around had its own challenges and I also became very aware how children with sibling/s inevitably fight for attention from a parent. However I also realised that whilst they did not always get on at least there was always someone of a close enough age to be alongside with. Okay, this could lead to conflict but on the whole I found they enjoyed each other’s company and relished the times they played together. When conflict did emerge they did not shy away from it like I would have done  - they battled it out, shouting at each other, slamming doors and sometimes trying to make me [...]

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So how does the only child adult deal with conflict?

This is one of the issues that I have read many times in emails from adult only children. Most of us – and I include myself in this – do not find conflict an easy thing to deal with or negotiate successfully. Many of us have a tendency to avoid it almost at any cost. This can be achieved in a number of ways like: turning the other cheek, pretending we are not upset really, or just sulking. The continuum stretches from complete avoidance to out bursts of fury and hostility. What we find much more difficult, is to be calm, negotiate and find a win – win solution. As a child in a family with no siblings we did not have the opportunities to row, be angry and fall out with children of a similar age. Being angry with a parent is a very different matter. If parents’  are [...]

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A classic only child upbringing?

When I was younger I experienced the classic only child upbringing and although I always wondered why I did not have siblings and often wishing I had built in playmates, my only child status does not get to me as it does now. I believe that my only child status helped me to be more creative, comfortable with being alone and willing to take social risks. In terms of being able to relate to the world at large I think it has been a plus, I am comfortable diffusing energy….in terms of intense one-on-one relationships I feel that I have always been at a disadvantage, feeling a kind of discomfort that I felt in my own intense mother-father-daughter triad I worked hard at adopting myself to large gregarious family situations…friends with lots of sibs, cousins and co-housing with lots of roomates are just a few examples. I feel that I [...]

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An only child is a happy child

An only child is a happy child, says research? The more siblings children have, the unhappier they become, due to bullying and competition by Anushka Asthana, The Observer, Sunday 14 November 2010 In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Natalie Portman once said: “I would never have been an actress if I weren’t an only child, because my parents would never have let me be the star of the family at the expense of another child.” It turns out that when it comes to the advantages of life without brothers and sisters, she was on to something. One of the widest-ranging research projects on family life conducted in Britain has revealed that the fewer siblings children have, the happier they are – and that only children are the most contented. The findings, shared exclusively with the Observer, suggest that “sibling bullying” could be part of the problem, with 31% of [...]

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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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