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What it's Like to Grow Up as an Only Child

Updated on September 18, 2017
GreenEyes1607 profile image

Sabrina loves to write about love, life, and everything in between in a candid yet humorous approach.

Most people think that it's sad and lonely to grow up as an only child. I grew up as an only child so I can understand that thinking to a certain degree. Yes, I may not have had that built in best friend that comes along with having a sibling, but I don't consider my childhood to have been sad or lonely at all. In fact, what I lacked in sibling love my parents more than made up for with their love and attention towards me.

My friends would always ask me growing up what it was like to be an only child. Did it in fact get really lonely? No, I would always answer, but I never knew any different so there was nothing to miss or feel lonely about. Most of my friends had brothers or sisters so their households were a little different than mine. Being an only child, I never knew what it was like to grow up in a loud household with kids running around because it was always just me. How could I miss something I never had when I had nothing to compare it to?

Being an only child means that you have to find ways to entertain yourself. When I was really young, that was my parents job, but as I got older I found ways to pass the time and keep myself occupied. You could always find a book in my hands from the time I learned to read to present day. I have always loved books and could pass many hours reading in my room. You can't really teach someone to love books, they have to be born with that love for reading. Getting a book was probably one of the best gifts I could have gotten when I was younger because I knew that it meant hours of entertainment in a world that was completely different from my own. That is probably why I have built up quite a large personal library over the years.

Being an only child means having to play by yourself a lot of the time. Sure, I had friends and playdates and such, but for the most part it was just me and my parents. Sometimes I would visit with my cousins who were close to my age and we would play and have a good time. Mostly, though, I had to use my imagination and play with my toys myself. I admit, I had a few imaginary friends too. I loved to pretend that I was the teacher and that I had a class full of students (usually about 5 or 6) and I would give them assignments and then correct their work. Another favorite game of mine was to pretend that I was a cashier. For some reason being a cashier seemed fascinating to me and I couldn't get enough of this game. When I was about 8 or 9 I got my first Playstation and so then I would spend some time each day playing games and trying to move through the levels. I would also watch cartoons or children's movies when I was a little older. I don't know how I did it but I could watch the same movie every day and never get tired of it. I see kids doing that now and I remember how I did the same thing growing up.

So how did I learn the big lessons like sharing without growing up with a sibling? I think it's just something my parents taught me and it sort of stuck with me through the years. I never really had to share my toys because it was just me. I never had to share my parents' attention with a sibling because I had them all to myself. Being an only child means you tend to get along with grownups well because you're used to having your parents around all the time. Stuff like sharing kind of came natural to me because if you saw a kid at school who needed something obviously you gave them an extra pencil or crayon. That is something that should come natural.

One of the perks of being an only child is that you get your own room and your own stuff. You don't have to worry about your sister stealing your clothes or messing with your stuff when you're not around. You pretty much get whatever you want because you're an only child and your parents give you everything you ask for. It's not like they have to buy things for three other kids so you each only get a certain minimum but that's it. It's all you, all the time, and you don't really know that life could be any other way. Being an only child at Christmas means getting A LOT of presents. This goes for birthdays as well. For some people, that could mean they grow up to be stuck-up, spoiled, and expecting that everything will always go their way. Unfortunately, the real world doesn't work that way so these types of people learn that fairly quickly. For me, it just meant that I knew I was pretty lucky and I was really thankful for that. I don't think I ever took it for granted.



Being an only child has some downsides too. For one, I will never really know what's it like to have a brother or sister. I don't know what it's like to have that person who is so close to you but is not your parent. I guess I will never know the feeling of "loving someone like a sister" because you can't just learn that and it's not the same with friends. I also think it would have been nice to have an older brother or sister who looked out for you in school and later in life. It's like having a built in best friend but better. Who could know you better than someone who grew up in the same house and had the same parents? No one but a brother or sister. Sure, you're going to have some sibling rivalry, but that sister/sister brother/sister bond is undeniable. I don't know if I can say I miss that, because I don't really know what it would be like honestly, but yes some days I do think it would be nice to have a brother or sister because parents aren't going to be around forever and you need someone else who is in your close family. Only children also have to work a little harder to be more social in school because it is usually just them and their parents. Only children can usually relate to and get along with adults better than they can with children their own age. I know it was that way for me because I was a quiet and shy child when I was at school and it was harder to make friends.

I think being an only child impacts the type of adult you become. For one, I don't think only children are attention seekers. They always had the full attention of their parents and never had to share it with siblings so later in life they aren't the type who are so desperate for attention that they need to have people notice them at all costs. Only children are also used to spending time alone so they don't constantly need to have people around to be entertained. They have learned to entertain themselves over the years and don't really need to have other people there at all times. They're okay just spending some time alone and taking care of themselves. As for having children themselves, I think it could go either way. Many only children grow up and have only one child yet other only children grow up and have many children to make up for the fact that they grew up alone. I think it all depends on whether you think you missed out by being an only child or you were more than content with it. The thing to consider here is that if you're an only child and you marry someone who is also an only child then your children will never have aunts, uncles, or cousins. That could get kind of lonely.

Overall, I think I had a pretty great childhood. Did I get lonely and sad sometimes? Sure, but what child doesn't? I always found ways to entertain myself and when I couldn't I would spend time with friends and family. Was my house a little quieter and neater than other people who had siblings? Definitely, but I still felt loved by my parents and they gave me more than enough attention. I still consider myself a generous person even though I never had to share anything with a sibling. I think you learn the lessons you need to learn in other ways when you don't have siblings. I think being an only child teaches you to be more independent and reliable on yourself. You don't really have that support system of siblings so you find close friends and form a bond with them. Maybe my friendships are a little stronger due to the fact that I don't have siblings and my best friends are like my sisters that I never had. The great thing about being an only child is that the siblings your parents didn't give you in turn gives you a chance to find your own circle of friends who will love you, care for you, and defend you. After all, loyalty is loyalty, and what you lack in siblings you can more than make up for in best friends that you can pick and choose as you wish. The world gives you many opportunities to build your own family of friends so your inner circle is exactly what you need it to be.

Are you an only child or did you have siblings?

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    • GreenEyes1607 profile image
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      GreenEyes1607 2 years ago from USA

      Awesome! I enjoy my alone time as well. We only children know how to have fun by ourselves.

    • Farawaytree profile image

      Michelle Zunter 2 years ago from California

      Only child here too! I could entertain myself for hours. I love being alone to this day - even though I have kids ;)

    • GreenEyes1607 profile image
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      GreenEyes1607 2 years ago from USA

      thumbi7- Thanks for your comments. I agree with you, it depends on a person's personality and how they interact with other people. Generally, though, only children tend to be a little quieter than most.

    • GreenEyes1607 profile image
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      GreenEyes1607 2 years ago from USA

      Shaan.S- Thanks for your feedback. I think it varies from person to person but that is the general idea.

    • thumbi7 profile image

      JR Krishna 2 years ago from India

      I know a person who is an only child. She is outspoken, cheerful and very friendly.

      I think it is about the way how you take it as you grow.

    • Shaan.S profile image

      Muhamed Shan 2 years ago from Doha

      As it says the major drawback of having one child is you often feel like you are self oriented.. rather than mingling with the friends. you will be too much engaged with your life.No offense please.. I wont totally say its true because i do have a friend and she is just the only kid just like you.. but she is really nice and to my surprise she is not self oriented.. some things are just prejudices. :)