17 Things You Never Knew About 'Only Children'
Having grown up as an only child, I've been faced with many misconceptions and often negative stereotyping throughout my life. Contrary to popular belief only children are not all isolated, egocentric, Sociopathic, mini-Hitler's running around talking to our imaginary friends. You may think you have only children all figured out, but I'm here to clear the air about these 'white tigers' of society.
*Disclaimer: Not only did I grow up as an only child, I was also raised in a very low income household by a single, often overly anxious, mother in the 1980's. Soooo, while I'm presenting these evidence-based (AND not so evidence-based) Only Children Generalizations, keep in mind that my biased opinions are of the Paranoid, Ghetto-Ninja Variety.
Let's get started then!
#1. We're not as selfish as you think.This is probably the most common misconception about only children. It's true that we weren't raised sharing our toys, books, food and personal space but, that doesn't automatically make us selfish people. I've met grown adults who were raised with siblings who are crazy selfish. This is most likely because as children they never had anything of their own; it was all up for grabs. Even though I was an only child, I had to practice sharing with younger cousins and other kids at school. And it was tough! If anything, only children had to put more effort into it than other kids with siblings who were just naturally used to having no sense of entitlement over anything (poor buggers).
#2. There are some super cool, famous Only Children representing.
Frank Sinatra, Franklin Roosevelt, Albert Einstein, Lance Armstrong, Natalie Portman, Robin Williams, Isaac Newton, Daniel Radcliffe, Charlize Theron, Anthony Hopkins, Elvis, John Lennon, Leonardo DaVinci, and Betty White were all raised as Only childen, and they turned out alright!
And let's not forget the King of Only Children (and Jews), the man himself... Jesus!
#3. We've been labeled as a disease.
A famous psychologist named Granville Stanley Hall published a study in 1896 called, "Of Peculiar and Exceptional Children" where he stated that, "Being an only child is a disease in itself". Ouch!
#4. We've got a touch of the 'OCD'.
Let's just say, we're not used to having our things 'touched' or 'moved about'. Given that we weren't raised with other grubby handed little children mucking about with our things, we are quite accustomed to having things a specific way and in a specific order. Only children have built in sense of security by having a routine. I have a particular way I make my coffee in the morning and a particular place on the couch where I always sit. I do not sit in any other place in the living room. Ever. And if I have a guest over visiting, and they proceed to sit in my favorite seat, I'm most likely silently battling a scaled down version of a panic attack.
#5. We are more likely to get divorced.
I would totally argue against this blatant and cruel generalization against only children if it wasn't for the sole fact that it comes from an actual, legitimate research study... AND because I'm kind of divorced. Whoops.
According to researchers at Ohio State University, Onlies are more likely to get divorced than people who grew up with siblings. With each added sibling in the family the risk of divorce is decreased by roughly 2 percent. Another popular way to minimize the likelihood of divorcing later in life: Don't marry a dink hole. (for further information on this topic please refer to my article 'Don't Marry Him')
#6. We like our 'private time'.
It probably goes without saying that we enjoy doing things by ourselves. It's just what we're used to! When I go to the bathroom when I'm out somewhere at a club or something, I don't need all my girlfriends to come with me. I'm probably going to the bathroom to get some 'alone time' for a few minutes in an attempt to regain my sanity from an 'Over Exposure to Other Human Beings'.
Don't get me wrong... Onlies like doing stuff with their friends and family but, in all honesty, we'd probably rather do it without you. No offence.
That being said, we're not huge fans of team sports either. Here's the 'Team Sports Equation' that goes through our minds:
'Multiple Human Beings' + 'Competitive Sports' + 'High Risk of Injury' - 'Parental Supervision' = 'I Think I Just Pooped My Pants'.
#7. We are more happy than people with siblings.
"Researchers with the Institute for Social and Economic Research questioned 2,500 young people and found that only children are happier than those with brothers and sisters, mainly because they don’t have to compete with a sibling. They also found that 'happiness declines the more siblings there are in a household.' " (The Telegraph, 2015)
#8. We grow up faster.
The only child's main source of socialization is with their parents. We spend a great deal of time learning and studying adult interactions and behavior which we then go on to mimic at an earlier age.
That being said, it's not hard to see that Onlies sometimes find it difficult to identify with their own peer group. I remember being a small child watching other children my age play and thinking to myself that they looked like they were crazy. I couldn't relate. As a child, I was more likely to want to sit and have a proper conversation with my teacher than play with other kids.
"Children with siblings relate and talk to their siblings rather than their parents. The only child’s primary role models are parents. The result is that only children copy adult behavior as well as adult speech patterns and develop good reasoning skills early on making them better equipped to handle the ups and downs of growing up. A good thing, for sure."
-Dr. Susan Newman, Social Psychologist (Only Children Stereotypes)
#9. We dealt with a lot of pressure to make something of ourselves.
For our parents, we're basically IT! It's up to us to make them proud and due to that added pressure we tend to be high achievers who often battle with perfectionism. That being said, it's not surprising that we also tend to do better in school!
"The more brothers and sisters that children have, the lower their grades are in school, a new nationwide study shows. The results, which include data from 24,599 eighth graders, suggest that academic achievement drops as families grow because parents have less time and economic resources for each child." (Ohio State University)
#10. We felt like 'one of the adults' ever since we were kids.
Having grown up with mainly adults around, Onlies tend to feel like their parents are their equals. When I was 3 years old, I learned that my mom's real name wasn't "mom". It therefore made no logical sense to me to call her 'mom' when that wasn't her "real name". She called me by my "real name" so I should be calling her by her "real name". This wasn't a decision I made in order to be rebellious or mean spirited. In all sincerity it just didn't make sense to me and I refused to do it. My mother naturally tried to get me to call her mom and eventually gave up thinking that I would someday just 'grow out of it' but, I never did. Sorry Carol.
#11. We find your super close, sibling relationships a bit creepy.
I've met brothers and sisters who are very close and super touchy feely, and it seriously weird's me out to no end. It's like watching Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia in 'Star Wars' and thinking to yourself, "God, will you two just do it and get it over with!" Even really close siblings of the same sex are quite off putting. I guess we, as onlies, just can't relate.
That being said, keep in mind that for an only child, nothing trumps the ultimate, anxiety-provoking, terrifying phenomena known as... TWINS! That s*@t just ain't right.
#12. We don't have to get 'our way' all time.
"Children with siblings often have more “who’s the boss” difficulties because they are constantly forced to share toys, television times, and parents. Kindergarten teacher Deejay Schwartz observes: 'It’s the ones who have been jostled and have had to compete who are always trying to push someone down, to be first in line or yell louder in order to be heard. Onlies have always been heard at home, and therefore function in a very calm way.' "
-Dr. Susan Newman, Social Psychologist (Only Children Stereotypes)
#13. We get lonely.
Despite everything I have just said, we do get lonely from time to time. When I was little I felt alone at times because there was no one to play with. Now as an adult, I see other people with siblings as having a wider support system and deeper family relationships (or at least the potential for them).
#14. We have no 'back up' for our childhood memories.
As far as childhood memories go, we have no other person's recollections as a sort of memory 'back up file'. There's no other person that's been at our side all our life to remember how awesome it was when we played in the woods all day long and built forts, or to remember how angry mom was when she found out I convinced my 6 year old friend to steal cigarettes from his parents.
#15. We didn't necessarily have imaginary friends growing up.
As a very young child I remember hearing about this and thinking that the idea of kids having imaginary friends seemed completely schizophrenic. Having been raised in a very adult world, where thinking "realistically" and "logically" (note sarcastic air quotes) was essential to survival, I had no time for an imaginary anything!
#16. We can let things get Quiet.
It probably makes sense that given our amount of alone time growing up (and a lack of noisy siblings), Onlies don't mind the quiet. In fact, we tend to seek it out and embrace it.
I often see people living these hectic lives that are constantly brimming with: large/group dinners, constant parties, shopping with friends, non-stop vacations, constant texting/talking on the phone, needing their friend's validation for every decision they make, working all the time, unable to go to coffee break or lunch alone at work, always needing the T.V. or radio on at home for background noise, etc. Ugh!!
It seems that these people have been so over stimulated all their life that now, as adults, they continue to seek out this constant state of hysteria and drama. I would literally go insane living like that.
#17. We saved our parents a fortune!
Obviously kids cost money. Given that there was only one of us to look after, Onlies were definitely easier on the old bank account. According to a recent article from Moneysense, the cost of raising a child, in Canada, till the age of 18 (just before his or her 19th birthday) is roughly $243, 660! And that figure doesn't include post-secondary education. (The Real Cost of Raising Kids, 2011)
So there you have it! If this article has got you thinking about a close friend of yours who's an only child, and you'd like to pop by their house to say 'Hi' and catch up... a word to the wise; just text them instead. Then proceed to reread this entire article because you obviously didn't get the message the first time around.