An Only Child
It is not better or worse than growing
up with siblings, but it is different.
Adult onlies see
that the experience of growing up as the only child has given them
many positive qualities. They're capable, reliable, a good friend
to others, sensitive, thoughtful, considerate, organised and responsible.
And some themes have emerged very clearly too.
I can somewhat
relate to feelings of being 'suffocated' by parents' love and attention.
As children, most wanted
more children to play with and were fascinated by larger families.
Very few rebelled in their teenage years.
The intensity of the child/parent relationship,
its potential invasiveness and lack of privacy has often led to
feelings being locked inside.
As adults, many have difficulty now expressing
deep feelings in close relationships. Despite the independent image,
they are still emotionally dependent on parents, or their memory.
Now that I am older, I would appreciate having an adult
relationship with siblings and having a support group to help take
care of my parents as they get older.
An issue that looms
large for everyone who has not already lost both parents is the
loss of the last one, leaving them alone with no one, with whom
to share family history.The loneliness of the only child comes full
Europe: According to recent press
reports in the British and US press, families with one child are
estimated at 17% in Britain and 50% in Germany and Portugal.
USA: Between 1980 and
1998 in the USA, there has been an 85% increase in the number of
women aged 40-44 (ie those deemed to have completed their families)
who have just one child.
China: Since the introduction
of the one child policy in China in 1979, an entire generation of
only children has grown up.
(Guardian, USA TODAY,
'Beanpole familes', those with fewer children and multiple generations
of older people - are leading to profound social changes, the Office
of National Satistics said. Fewer brothers and sisters in one generation
leads to fewer aunts and uncles in the next... and longer, thinner
patterns of family relationships.
There has been much publicity recently
about the family tree changing shape. No longer
are we creating large families which broaden out over generations
to form a tree with a wide canopy. We are increasingly having one
child. This phenomenon has been named the ‘beanpole family'.
The reasons are many - women choosing
to have children later, the one child option as a lifestyle choice,
May be now is
the time to get beyond the stereotyped image of the spoilt brat
and become curious about the actual experience of growing up as
the ‘only child'.
would imagine that kids with siblings would be more competitive
as adults (having to fight for attention, toys, praise). I find
that I am lacking that competitive 'drive' that others have. As
an only, I value my friendships ... many lifelong friends have developed
in to my 'sisters' or 'brothers'.
My father died last year of cancer, now my mother is on her own
and I am worried about what will happen if she becomes ill. I'm
both worried about her but also about having no close family left.
I never saw before they died, what my
life would be like afterwards. When dad died, I had to be strong
for mum, because I had to look after her, but then when mum died,
it had a devastating effect on me.