Misperceptions About Only Children

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  1. gmwilliams profile image86
    gmwilliamsposted 12 years ago

    Recent studies have shown that only children have higher self-assurance and self-esteem than children from multichild families.  This is because onlies are not involved in sibling psychodynamics such as sibling rivalry and competition for parental attention.   Furthermore, onlies are not slated into mandatory sibling roles i.e. "the smart one", "the beautiful one" and/or the"slow one."     Onlies are also more creative and imaginative because they are comfotable being alone.   Onlies have closer relationships with their parents than children from multichild families who must often compete for their parents' individualized attention.   Onlies are also high academic achievers who do well in life.   Furthermore, onlies are now 20% of the population and are growing.   So why is there still antiquated misperceptions about only children, where there is nothing but positives about only children?

    1. Disturbia profile image61
      Disturbiaposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      I think a lot of what you say depends completely on one's parents.  My mother was demanding and had very high expectations and standards which I struggled most of my young life to meet or exceed.  Of course, if I had had any siblings, we would all have been subject to the same expectations, but at least there would have been someone there with whom  to share the pressure and stress of those demands.

  2. Greek One profile image64
    Greek Oneposted 12 years ago

    kids need a friend to play with when the parents need to take a nap

    1. gmwilliams profile image86
      gmwilliamsposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      One does not need siblings to play with.  One can have friends or play contentedly alone.    Only children are creative in that way.   They can play contentedly alone for hours at a time with no difficulty.    This is why only children are the most creative, imaginative, and independent of all birth orders.

      1. Greek One profile image64
        Greek Oneposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        "They can play contentedly alone for hours at a time with no difficulty."   

        oh i wish that was the case!! lol

        1. Disturbia profile image61
          Disturbiaposted 12 years agoin reply to this

          lol lol lol  good point greek one.

          gm, I agree, one does not need a sibling to play with.  My daughters are five years apart and have always had their own friends.  But they have many times turned to each other for companionship and they care for and look after each other and "have each others' backs" so to speak.  Friends come and go, but they will ALWAYS be sisters.

        2. QuestionMaster profile image78
          QuestionMasterposted 12 years agoin reply to this

          It depends on the type of child, too. I was a homeschooled only child who was lucky to see other kids twice a week. And once I discovered books I'd often spend hours outside reading or doing my own thing. Of course my mother wasn't one for interaction when she could be on the phone to friends, so I learnt fast to entertain myself.

          Even as early as age 3, my father (who at the time had to care for me alone for over a year as well as work) would leave me alone for hours playing with sawdust and toys in a room at the house he was building. Then at the end of the day we'd chase geese around the property and that was my reward for being good.

          It can vary depending if the child is outgoing/shy/advanced/bratty etc

    2. Moon Lightened profile image67
      Moon Lightenedposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Speaking as an only child, my happiest memories are from the time I spent alone entertaining myself.  I was quite good at losing myself in a book, playing with my toys, sitting in the apple tree and pondering, crawling through the garden.  The world was my playground and I didn't need others.  To this day, I'm very comfortable being alone.  Children are adaptable.  Siblings aren't a need, although they may be a want.

      1. WriteAngled profile image73
        WriteAngledposted 12 years agoin reply to this


        It was the same in my case.

        And now, after several relationships as an adult, I am alone again and have realised that this is how I feel happiest and most content. I feel I have finally been let out of prison.

        In the end, the freedom to be, do and live my life as I want is more important to me than anything else.

        1. gmwilliams profile image86
          gmwilliamsposted 12 years agoin reply to this

          I totally agree.  As a child, I played alone contentedly for hours on end.   I often read, sketched, and was highly creative.  One does not need siblings to have a full chidhood.   Parents are excellent companions and so are friends.   I would not give up my experience of being an only child for all the tea in China.   My experiences as an only child made me the person I am today- very independent, enjoying my own company immensely, being extremely creative, and growing up completely surrounded by adults-now, that was an added plus.   We onlies have unique qualities that children from multichild families do not have.   We are indeed ONE of a kind- do I hear any applause!

  3. Disturbia profile image61
    Disturbiaposted 12 years ago

    Just as with everything in life there are positives and negatives to being an only child. As rosey a picture as your posting paints, being an only child is hardly "nothing but positives" and in many cases being an only child often translates into being a lonely child.

    "Furthermore, onlies are not slated into mandatory sibling roles i.e. "the smart one", "the beautiful one" and/or the"slow one." 

    No, but all too often the only child not only has to live up to one of the aforementioned roles, but ALL of them.  You are it, the one and only, the prima ballerina, the prom queen, the star athlete, the A+ honor roll student, always on display, always in demand, and expected to fulfill every parental expectation and goal, whether they are realistic or not, and the pressure is always on because there isn't anyone else for your parents to pin their hopes and dreams on if you fail.  Whatever your parents ever imagined for any children they might have had all sits on your shoulders alone, something of which you are always keenly aware, so you can also become the royal screw-up.  Not that all your siblings, if you had any, couldn't go down the same drain, but at least with more than one child, there is always hope and someone to take the pressure off if you don't particularly want to go to Harvard. 

    There is also no one else there to help when the end finally comes. You are the only one responsible for an aging or ailing parent, so you had better be prepared because you will have no siblings to share that chore and that sorrow with either.

    Of course, I can only speak from my own personal experience... as an only child.

  4. ikechiawazie profile image61
    ikechiawazieposted 12 years ago

    I agree with Disturbia, i know a friend of mine who was an only child but wished he had another sibling as he felt all alone. Parents were too busy and often neglected him; he did not have many friends except me.

    1. gmwilliams profile image86
      gmwilliamsposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      To Disturbia:  Be thankful that you are an only child.   You have it good but you do not know it.  Yes, there are more expectations placed upon us onlies to achieve!  So what!  You say this like it is bad.  Well, it is not.  I,too, had high expectations placed upon me by my parents.  You know what, these expectation made me extremely ambitious and achievement oriented.    I am also the most affluent in my extended family of cousins because of these high expectations.

      Yes, when my mother was old, I was the sole provided and caretaker for her.  I do not mind in the least as she was there for me in my younger days.   You moan about having siblings.  Guess what, having a sibling or siblings are all peaches and cake.   

      If you had a sibling/siblings, you would be the oldest child.   Oldest children are "on" 24/7- yeap, you are the one who often have no childhood(my mother was the oldest child- the tales she told) because you are looking after your younger siblings.   You are no longer the center of your parents' attention-they have the younger children to look after.   As the oldest child, you are held to a tougher and stricter standard than your younger siblings.  You are the one who gets punished more and more harshly.   You often get into trouble for the things your younger siblings do!    Forget about free and individualized "me" time if you are the oldest child, you have NONE. 

      Oh, when your parents get old, you, as the oldest child, will assume the most responsibility in caring for your elderly parents.  Your younger siblings will play little or no part in this.   So be glad and count your blessings that you are an only child.   I would never change my status of being an only child for nothing- least of all, being an overtaxed oldest child.   I would not wish being the oldest child on my worst enemy!

  5. Lisa HW profile image64
    Lisa HWposted 12 years ago

    I don't pay attention to any of those studies, because even if they have some shreds of accuracy here or there; from what I've seen for myself in real life, there's a whole lot of "baloney" presented in them.  When it isn't baloney, people often misinterpret what is presented.  How sensible and skilled and loving parents are make a big difference.  So does how much spacing there is between siblings (if siblings are involved).  So does how much time a mother has had to devote to each child in the first three years of life.  So does the overall personality of the parents and each, individual, child.  So is how each study is performed and how/whether each study involves more than just the input of participants/subjects.

  6. Polly C profile image90
    Polly Cposted 12 years ago

    I have two children, but there is almost 8 years between them, so for many years my oldest son grew up as an only child. I completely agree that it depends on the child's individual personality and environment. My son is very sociable and mixed a lot with other children - in fact, a friend of mine had only one child and we went out a lot together, which the boys loved. Interestingly, they formed a kind of 'sibling' relationship, in that they would compete and argue with each other in the way brothers and sisters do. After school we often played in the park or on the school adventure playground with lots of other children and as such he is now 11 and always bringing friends back or going back to their homes. I do not believe he felt lonely or isolated during the earlier part of his child, but he is socially confident and finds it easy to make friends.

    My own mother is also an only child and did not mind or find it to be a problem. I know this as we have talked about it before. Of course, she was born in the mid forties, and childhood then was all about playing out on the street with anyone who was there. So, I definitely believe that being an only child is perfectly ok as long as there are many opportunities to mix with other children and form bonds.

  7. Leaderofmany profile image61
    Leaderofmanyposted 12 years ago

    My husband is an only child and I am the oldest child, we are constantly butting heads. I say he has the "only child syndrome" this meaning in my terms. He does not like to share his toys,and he is always right about everything. Well, I'm the oldest and everything has to be my way so things can get real intersting around our house. He was a star football player, but not a star student. I do believe each child plays a part in the family by the order in which they were born. It is even more noticable if there is dsyfunction within the family. The well-adjusted family does not show the traits of the birth order as brightly. Each family is different and each parenting style is different so how children are raised is different for each child.

  8. Alecia Murphy profile image70
    Alecia Murphyposted 12 years ago

    I'm an only child and I've had several wonderful experiences and several tragic ones. But I don't consider that to be mutually exclusive to my life or position as an only child. I've had struggles adjusting to social situations and developing confidence. One factor that contributed to that was my overly self-critical attitude. I was smart and knew I could learn, but I only saw myself in terms of achievement and not as a worthy individual. It took me a while to realize that it doesn't matter what I do, but who I am as a person that ultimately defines me.
    Do I think I could have benefited from having a sibling? Yes, but then again I'm sure if I had a sibling I'd say the same thing about being an only child. The pressure of trying to hold up your identity and the way everyone else sees you is one of great stress. But in the end we all have to take a look back and see how we can't live by expectations.
    In terms of the selfishness, bratty attitude, and so on, it is true to a certain extent but I think that applies to anyone who has an ego at some point in time. Like someone said, these studies are bogus because not everyone is a one size fits all case.

  9. Hestia DeVoto profile image60
    Hestia DeVotoposted 12 years ago

    There's only one "only child" in my family and he's the husband of one of my aunts.  Sadly, he is more of a textbook example of all the negative stereotypes often applied to only children:  he's spoiled, selfish, never thinks of anyone else and overacts to cover up the fact that he's insecure.  He didn't get along with his wealthy parents and moved out of the house to go live with a friend of his when he was 16.  Having inherited a lot of money, he never really had to work and pretty much just goes from hobby to hobby, buying a lot of things and then getting rid of them after about a year when he decides he isn't having fun anymore.

  10. fpherj48 profile image59
    fpherj48posted 12 years ago

    gmwilliams....What an excellent topic to bring us!!  One of my favorites, actually.  I am in the "group" of being a "quasi-only child," being 5 years younger than my sis & only other sibling. As you can well-imagine, we had parallel lives in the same family. Although she has always had a crystal clear memory of ME (my existence,) I must admit I do not have memories of HER until I was well into elementary school.  Even as an adolescent, in HS....she was "away at college," so that was a long stretch of being an "only child."  By the time we were both married women and mothers, we had somehow developed an extraordinarily close and loving relationship.  We remained each other's very best friend right up to the moment we lost her to cancer when she was only 60 yrs. young.  One moment I was thinking, "Where have been all my life, wonderful sister?"....and it seems now I say, "Oh God, where have you gone...I miss you unbearably?"  Eight years ago and yet I hurt as powerfully as though it was yesterday.....have no idea when I will get to the point of acceptance.
    I would like to comment, though in response to some of what I have read, here.
    I have always felt strongly about "onlies," believing we should be a world full of onlies....ONE child per couple/household. My reasons are endless. Alot of them are closely related to the positive comments made here, especially those made by onlies.....and I am able to comfortably REJECT the negative comments on onlies, because these "issues" apply to any and every individual, reagardless of being an only or having numerous siblings.  What stands out to me are the statements that confirm the unique opportunities afforded to onlies, in terms of learning to be creative, your own best friend, being content with your own company..  I too spent hours keeping busy and happy ALONE and believe I grew and matured in a healthier and more progressive manner than my peers.  "WriteAngled," your last sentence is so powerful and one that I completely relate to!  BTW, (you definitely resemble a youthful Shirley MacLaine....compliment!) Now, in retirement, although I am happily married to a sweet man, I was also perfectly content as a single woman for several years.  I never felt the desperation and lonliness so many women (and men) deal with when not "attached" to someone.  I feel blessed to be able to be in either situation and remain happy with my life and MYSELF.....and finally, I attribute this to my homelife growing up, my parents, my education, my sister and our ultimate relationship and my own motivation.  There is MUCH to be said about ONLY children and 95% of it is totally POSITIVE.  Thank you for this platform!

  11. gmwilliams profile image86
    gmwilliamsposted 12 years ago

    Good morning!  You are so welcome.   I believe that we onlies need a platform to express our views.  We onlies live in a sibling society which glorifies the virtues but downplays the minuses of the multichild family and does the opposite to the one child family.   Well, I believe that it is time to stop the negative and stereotypical misperceptions about only children.     I have found only children to be more mature, intellectual, creative, and peacemaking than children from multichild families who have issues which I will not detail here.    Only children are beautiful and positive.   I appreciate your response to this form.     I shall depart now but thank you again and God bless!

    1. fpherj48 profile image59
      fpherj48posted 12 years agoin reply to this

      gmwilliams......I think we should send out a special invitation to the DUGGAR Clan to participate in this discussion......Michele (Mom) is expecting their 20th.  Can someone please send the paddy wagon?

      1. gmwilliams profile image86
        gmwilliamsposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        To fpherj48:   Please do not get me started.  Oh no, you have!   I have found people who either have large families and/or who came from large families to have an extremely strong almost abnormal animus against people from small families, particularly only children.   They defend their inversely dysfunctional lifestyle.   The large family system is rife with total dysfunction and abnormality- children raise themselves.  No, errata, the oldest child is the parent thus forfeit his/her childhood and adolescence.  Privacy is unheard and an anomaly in large families.   There is no proper nutritional and/or medical care in large families because monies are stretched tight for only the rudiments., forget about monies for educational, cultural, and intellectual activities.  Non-existence.   

        Life in large families are often hardscrabble and tough.   You have gotten me started.   Many people purport that children from large families are more compassionate and tolerant.  Well, I have found the opposite as recent studies confirm, they are often intolerant and territorial because they were raised with no individuality and no sense of self.   Let me not digress here.   Maybe we should invite Ms. Duggar and all parents of large families to the post and WE can teach them something about the benefits and beauty of the SMALL family.    Great idea and have a wonderful Blessed day!

  12. Will Apse profile image88
    Will Apseposted 12 years ago

    If your parents are crazy you are certainly better off having some siblings to share the horror with.

  13. fpherj48 profile image59
    fpherj48posted 12 years ago

    And....my friend, since YOU have gotten this entire thing STARTED...(lol) I must reply.  All that you have said is 99% ACCURATE in 99% of LARGE famlilies (In my opinion, any number over 4 kids, is large)  However, not necessarily in defense of the Duggars, because Lord knows, there is little defense, if any.....The Duggars have PLENTY of money, earned the honest way, and their children are anything but "hardscrabble & tough,"SO FAR....which I think is largely due to the proper and gentle manner of the parents who are CHRISTIAN to their core. (I'm not sure what that proves, but they are kind, compassionate and moral beings)....and all the females learn violin, dance and voice as well as keep up with their peers who attend traditional schools.  The Duggars are all home schooled. These 19 siblings are also exposed to a lot of travel and interaction with other families of every origin.....So, what I'm trying to say is that they truly ARE an exception to what we can know about OVER-breeding.  This, I'm sure explains their TV fame and poplularity. Although, even people who love them think they are a few plates short of a feast....personally, they amaze me...but not in a positive way.  Highly unlikely we will ever be exposed via the media to a family of 20 living in a shack, half-naked, starving and ignorant...however more realistic this would be.

    1. gmwilliams profile image86
      gmwilliamsposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Thank you for your response.   Thank God that the megative perception against only children are fading.   In fact, there are more onlies in the population than we would have guessed of!

      Only children are often calm and mature beyond their years.   Of course, only children have mainly their parents to interface with.  Many people with siblings are prejudicial against us onlies because we present a minority in the sibling culture.   In fact, we onlies represent "the other" i.e. something strange and forbidden.

      We onlies are not lonely.  We are not "missing out" because we do not have siblings.   We onlies are quite content to be who and where we are.   We are free to be individuals and not part of the sibling collective consensus.   We are free to express WHO we are as unique individuals.   If we want some age companionship, we can have friendships.   In fact, onlies often have more friendships than children in multichild families who are, in fact, more insular and prefer being among themselves.

      Onlies are also more likely to indulge in more intellectual and cultural activities such as travel, dancing/music classes, and related cultural activities because there are more monies allotted per one child than there are monies allotted in multichild families.  As a result of the varied intellectual and cultural activities that onlies are exposed to, they have more varieties of friends and experiences which gives them extensive social and cultural savvy.

      Onlies are also truer friends and companions because they were not exposed to the infighting and competition that is de rigueur in the house of children with siblings.   Onlies do not have these issues- they are busy creating their lives.   Onlies have individual lives that children with siblings do not have because children with siblings are more enmeshed in each other's lives.   Onlies have TIME to read, write, sketch, and indulge in more creative hobbies that children in multichild also do NOT have because there is always a sibling or siblings hanging around.   

      Onlies have unmitigated privacy and know how to spend alone time.   In fact, onlies are less afraid of being alone than children with siblings who are often afraid of being alone.   I am here to educate people that only children are like other children.  One does not NEED siblings to be a whole child.  In fact, such an idea is totally preposterous to say the least. 

      Noted examples of illustrous only children include Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Charlize Theron, Natalie Portman, Jerry Lewis, Robin Williams, Chelsea Clinton, Lauren Bacall, the prodigiously mature Kiernan Shipka, Condoleeza Rice, the late Hedy Lamarr, Robert DeNiro, and the great Betty White who is just so-well, fantastic.  We onlies are in such great company.  I am so proud to be an only child and we rock to the milnillionth degree!


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