The Only Child in the Family, Part I
Breaking the Mold-The Most Unique of All Birth Orders
Only children or singletons( a word I thoroughly prefer) are the most unique of all birth orders. When they were born, their parents adored and worshipped them. Guess what? They were never going to ever be dethroned as oldest and middle children were. Onlies were always going to be the center of their parents' universe forever!
Only children have a very special relationship with their parents. This is because they never have to compete with siblings physically, emotionally, and financially for parental attention. They have their parents all to themselves.
Only children are unique in ways that children in multichild families are not. They usually have complete individualized time with their parents. They can see their parents anytime they wish. They do not have to schedule time with their parents like children in multichild families do.
Because only children interact primarily with their parents, they develop adult behaviors and mannerisms at earlier ages than children with siblings. Intense, individualized parental interaction results in only children having more advanced vocabularies and speech patterns than children in multichild families who primarily interact with siblings instead of parents. As a result of the early familial environment, they feel the most comfortable around older peers and adults, finding same age peers and younger children to be completely immature and intolerable.
Only children, because they have no siblings, are often quite independent and creative. They are the most creative of all birth orders. Besides being creative, onlies also can be quite imaginative. They also are extremely comfortable being alone. This also develops into fierce independence and self-reliance. They are extremely capable of entertaining themselves and boredom is not in their vocabulary. They are quite comfortable in their own skin and are not as needy and crowd hungry as children with siblings are.
Only children are quite mature in more ways than one. They are usually the best behaved and most respectful students in school because they did not indulge in the sibling drama and bantering which are prevalent in children of multichild families. When I attended elementary school, it was the only children(myself included) who were the best behaved and most respectful students around. They are often selected for responsible positions such as classroom monitors and other related positions because of their maturity.
Only children interface well with teachers. In fact, teachers have quite a high opinion of onlies as they deem them to be little adults who are well behaved and mannerly as opposed to children in multichild families who are often behaviorally challenged. They also have a more serious approach to school and education because of high parental expectation and interaction. To reiterate, in the only child familial environment, parents are the main teachers. With parental teaching, the only child absorbs advanced and more adult knowledge that children in multichild families do not absorb as their main interaction are with other siblings who are not as developmentally advanced as an adult. This intense parental interaction in the familial environment of the only child translates naturally into advanced reading, math, and related academic skills resulting in high academic achievement.
Only children often have a more serious and less frivolous approach to life than children in multichild families. They often pursue more intellectual and solitary hobbies such as writing, reading, sketching, and other creative arts. In one child families, parents often include their only child in their discussions. They are not treated as mere children but as thinking individuals in their own right. Furthermore, when parents have company and friends over, the only child is included as opposed to children in multichild families who are not being included and told to go away.
Only children have an absence of the gameplaying and mindgames that children with siblings constantly indulge in. They are usually more honest in their interaction with peers and friends. They are not backstabbing and superficial towards their associates. They are also kind. There is an absence of fighting and bullying in the only child relationships with friends and peers. They often have an extremely deep and unabiding respect for their peers and friendships.
Only children are also very peaceful and nonconfrontational. They have a live and let live mentality. To them, life is to be experienced and sibling behaviors such as fighting, competition, and bullying are energy draining and immature to say the least. The average only child would rather read and/or indulge in an intellectual hobby than to roughhouse. They are quite easy to interface with and a joy to be around.
Only children can be quite social savvy because their parents usually enroll them in play groups and in cultural, intellectual, and educational activities where they meet children from all cultural backgrounds. Frequently, it is the only child who has MORE friends than children in multichild families who primarily interact with each other thus adopting a more narrowminded, insular, and parochial attitude towards life. As a result of the numerous and varied friendships in the life of only children, they usually have a more sophisticated and universalistic outlook on life. Furthermore, because of their relationship with their parents and the small family atmosphere, they are comfortable in having fewer friends but more qualitative and intense monogamous relationships. Clearly, there is nothing superficial about only children.
Only children are usually self-contained individuals because they were not part of the sibling environment with its gameplaying, rigid roles, and differential parental treatment. They are often respected for who they. ere and not compared to anyone else. They were given parental encouragement to reach their utmost individualistic and human potential and their parents often have the economic means to make this happen.
Only children are the most likely of all birth orders to attend the best schools and to obtain tertiary education. Furthermore, they are the MOST educated of all birth orders. It is nothing for them to obtain postgraduate education whether at the masters and/or doctorate level of education.
Parents of only children usually have high expectations of them to achieve as much as possible. There is no such thing as second best in only child households. He/she is exhorted to succeed as his/her parents' hopes and dreams are riding on him/her. Many parents of only children actually PLAN their children's lives in terms of college and career choice. These parents believe that they know what it BEST for their child, often not considering the needs and wants of their child. Often or not, the child fulfills parental expectation of college and career choice much to their chagrin later. The child is fulfilling parental dreams, not THEIR OWN.
There are only children who are intensely self-directed and independent while there are OTHERS who can be classified as infantilized, risk aversive, and overly dependent. There are some parents who MISTAKENLY believe that just because they elect to have an only child, it is their excuse to baby the child beyond reproach. Maybe this parent come from a large family where he/she had to fight for parental attention, do without, and led an extremely hardscrabble life. Well, this parent decides to have an only child with the main purpose of babying and overindulging him/her to the point of infantilization.
This parent or parents believe in providing the easiest life possible for their only child. Such a parent or parents actually do not respect their only child for the unique individual he/she is but considers the child to be objectified. This parent or parents usually spoil and do things for the child that he/she is better off doing for himself/herself. This only child is considered a precious jewel to be mollycoddled and protected from the travails of life. This is the parent or parents who does chores for the child instead of teaching him/her self-reliance.
This is the parent or parents who probably had to hustle at an early age and want to spare their child this. Their mantra is that they want their child to have life better than they did. They will spare nothing to grant their child this. They further do not want their only child to be independent as it is an affront to their parental role. To them, their only child is just that -A CHILD. They feel that it is their parental duty to do EVERYTHING for the child instead of teaching him/her the necessary life skills to become independent and self-sufficient. It is not unusual for such parents to take their preadolescent child to school when the child at this stage is perfectly capable of walking by himself/herself to school.
There is such a thing is going extremely far in the parenting department! My advice: let the only child do things for himself/herself and treat him/her like an individual human being, not an infantilized child. Furthermore, do not OVERPROTECT the only child. Let him/her explore the environment, experiment, and allow him/her to be independent. Teaching a child to be independent increases his/her self-confidence and is the greatest asset a parent can give a child.
There are some parents of only children who REFUSE to let them go and lead their own lives. These parents take LITERALLY that their only child is a CHILD forever. I have heard one father say about his 36 year old adult only child that she will be ALWAYS be HIS BABY. I consider this philosophy extremely ludicrous to say the least. The sole purpose of being a parent is develop such independence in your children that THEY will not need YOU anymore. Parenthood should not be a full time career but a temporary position. These parents must view their only child as an adult in the making and raise him/her as such.
In conclusion, the only child is the most unique of all birth orders. They have broken the mold when he/she is born. Besides being the most unique of all birth orders, they are also the most individualistic and creative of all birth orders.
Only children will never be dethroned as oldest and middle children are. They will always be at the center of their parents' universe. Because they grew up in an adult environment, they have adopted more mature mannerisms and behavior at a very early age. This often makes them more serious and less frivolous in demeanor than children with siblings who interacted mainly with other children.
Only children are often self-reliant and quite independent as they have no siblings to depend upon. Furthermore, they are not subjected to the role playing, gamemanship, and mindgames that children with siblings routinely indulge in. Because of this, they are also highly self-confident and are free to pursue their own interests in addition to fulfilling their utmost creative and human potentials.
Because only children have no siblings, they are usually enrolled in intellectual and cultural activities where they interface with children from various backgrounds. This is opposed to children in multichild families who primarily interact with their siblings Being with children of different backgrounds give only children a more sophisticated and universalistic mentality as opposed to children with siblings who have a more parochial mentality because they interact with like minded siblings. Only children by participating in varied cultural and intellectual activities have a social and cultural savvy that children in multichild families do not possess.
Only children because of their intense interaction with their parents develop advanced vocabulary, reading, and math skills which translate into being high academic achievers. Furthermore, only children are more likely to be better educated than children in multichild families as their parents have more monies per child to afford tertiary education and beyond.
Even though most parents of only children raise their children to be self-sufficient, mature, and independent human beings, there are parents who infantilize and overprotect their only child to his/her detriment. These parents overindulge their only child in the mistaken expectation that they want their child to have it better than they did and want their child to have the easiest life possible.
Yes, the only child is a very special and unique birth order. They are like no other. How wonderful and lovely that is. Famous onlies include Charlize Theron, Award Winning actress and producer; Natalie Portman, prodigious Award Winning actress; the late Hedy Lamarr, actress and inventor; the late Janet Leigh, actress; Robin Williams, genius actor and comedian; Betty White, all around excellent actress; Lauren Bacall, actress with class; Francis Albert Sinatra, singer, actor, and Chairman of the Board; Adrian Brody, Award Winning actor; Robert DeNiro, Samuel L. Jackson, and Al Pacino, actors who are good at their game; Condoleeza Rice, ex Secretary of State, and many illustrious others far too numerous to mention. Only children are fantastic people with great and innumerable gifts.
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© 2011 Grace Marguerite Williams
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