General Question

Facade's avatar

Do you think people who are "only children" are different from those who aren't?

Asked by Facade (22899points) April 26th, 2009

Explain your answer please.

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25 Answers

BBSDTfamily's avatar

There can be exceptions, but for the most part an only child has a more difficult time sharing and being non-selfish because they did not have to learn these traits as a child to the extent that siblings do. The saddest difference to me is that an only child does not grow up with a potential best friend that they share the close bond with that can only come from growing up in the same household, experiencing the same things, and understanding exactly where the other is coming from.

If you are reading this little sisters and brother, I love you!

Facade's avatar

How sweet :)

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

Definitely and it could go so many ways. I was raised apart from my siblings, I’ve got 6 others and they seemed to me more carefree and allowed to be childlike while I felt so much more serious behavior was expected of me.

Facade's avatar

@hungryhungryhortence Yea, I can understand that.

augustlan's avatar

I was raised as an only child (I have a half brother, but we never lived together). The one big thing I see as different between my experience and my 3 children’s experiences is that I don’t understand sibling rivalry at all. Their father, who has a brother, thinks it’s no big deal when they fight, but it drives me crazy!

knitfroggy's avatar

My brother in law is an only child. He is kind of a dick. He acts like the world kind of owes him a favor and he was very spoiled as a child, from what his parents say. They were unable to have more children after him. When he was about 10 they started looking into adopting and he threw a fit and said he would hate them and the new kid, so they abandoned the idea. He feels shitty about it now that he is in his late 30s.

He was very adamant when he and my sister were thinking about having kids that they have two. They have two now and my sis wants a third but he says two is enough. He thinks he would have been a lot different if he’d had a sibling. He sometimes has trouble understanding the relationship between my sister and me. We are very close. I think he is a little jealous that he doesn’t have that bond with someone, which is sad.

adreamofautumn's avatar

I think in the general sense unless they spend a lot of time with cousins, playgroups, etc. from a very young age it’s harder to teach the concept of “sharing” when you don’t have someone to share with. I could never imagine what being an only child would be like, I think there is something so intense and special and amazing in the bond between siblings (okay i’m biased, I love my little sister more than life itself. She’s been my best friend and like a part of me our whole lives), but I think that a child really gets something (especially as they get older) from having someone close to their age that loves them unconditionally. In the teenage years friends are fickle and superficial, but no matter how much sibling rivalry and bickering happens siblings love you no matter what. I guess I just think that only children are lacking that particular experience.
I have plenty of friends that are only children and there is nothing wrong with it. I think being an only child is in no way a problem, I just think i’d be adamant about having at least two myself.
this is completely a sweeping generalization, I know there are people who have awful sibling stories, but from my own personal life experiences and perspectives this is how I feel. Sorry for over-generalizing.

TjHare's avatar

How you grow up effects who you are, what you learn, how you learn it, illusions and accepted realities all set boundaries for what you choose. So the question is too broad to be answered definitively

Facade's avatar

@adreamofautumn I guess it would have been nice to have a sibling, but, as you said, I hate sharing. BUT it’s not my fault! I used to share very freely when I was little. Giving all my little friends my best crayons etc. until I got upset one day because someone broke my favorite _____ (iono what is was). That was the end of me sharing lol. I’ll share with my babe though. Everyone else can go suck rocks :P

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Of course they are. Growing up with a sibling has a major effect on a child.
Children with brothers/sisters have entirely different experiences growing up stemming from sibling socialization.

One is not any better or worse than the other. Just different.

tigran's avatar

I think it can shape our personalities very deeply. I was a younger sibling for ten years, then became the middle one. My young brother is growing up on his own and we get to see him often, but he definitely doesn’t interact with people in the same manner as me. I feel that because he is growing in a house as a lone child, it gives him traits of the elder brother that I feel I don’t even have.

cookieman's avatar

Speaking as one, I love being an “only child”.

I had a good childhood and I was not spoiled. Quite the opposite, in fact. My father taught me how to clean house, do laundry. I had chores, played baseball for years, learned a lot about music, was a cub scout.

Sure, I spent a lot of time alone, but I spent it drawing and painting (which is probably why I got into art college without ever taking a single class). I also became very self reliant and had a great imagination.

of course it wasn’t all peaches and cream. lots of hairy family issues with addiction and my Mother became unbearable by the time I was 14

Out of everyone I know with siblings, I can think of only person who gets on swimingly with them. Everyone else (including my wife) does nothing but bitch about their siblings. I realize the long-term good of having a sibling may outweigh the day-to-day bad in these cases, but I don’t see it.

Also, whether or not you are selfish has more to do with how you are raised than anything else.

ironically, my parents were extremely selfish. I rebelled against this (as children do) and am very giving as a result

My daughter (6) is currently an only child and my wife is very worried we won’t be able to adopt her a sibling.

Me…not so worried.

casheroo's avatar

Sometimes you can tell.
I think it’s pretty obviously that I’m the baby in my family. I do not have a second child yet, but when we do..I’ll see how we treat them both differently. But, for now, my son is an only child and he is the center of our universe. He’s just a baby, but we’ll try not to spoil him too much. We’re thinking he’s going to be a rough older brother, but very protective. I think he’ll always keep part of his only childness, but he won’t always be an only child. If that makes sense.

I think only children are generally more selfish.

rooeytoo's avatar

Seems I have read that statistically they have higher IQ’s and are better achievers. The article said this was probably due to having more adult stimulation than kids who are surrounded by other kids. My own personal experience is that only children are more self sufficient, able to be alone, are very creative because they had to be to amuse themselves. I also thought it was interesting that kids who are more than 7 years younger than older siblings are considered as only children.

blondie411's avatar

I myself have siblings so I can’t really speak firsthand but I do have a very good friend that is an only child and while she knows how to share, listen and be a good friend. I find that her parents treated her like an adult when she was a child. They included her in every activity they wanted to do so she became more mature than any of us did at an earlier age. I’m not sure if it had to do with being an only child or more so with their style of parenting but that is just one example of being different.

Triiiple's avatar

As an only child at the age of 21 and reading these responses heres what i can come up with.

I spent a lot of time with my cousins when i was little (my uncle, aunt and 3 cousins lived on the floor below my mother and i). So i was always running around with my cousins, we all did Baseball together during Elementary school. Though i also spent a lot of time alone reading magazines, books, playing with action figures.

Now at 21 i see myself being comfortable just staying home alone doing my own thing while my friends are texting me about how bored they are and how they wanna go be outside, but maybe thats just personal preference, as for being selfish i am only with my money, beer and weed. But who isnt?

wundayatta's avatar

What are the consequences of having the entire attention of two parents for the first 18 years of your life? Well, you might think the world revolves around you. When you get to school, you’ll have difficulty relating to others around you (unless they sent you to preschool, and even then), because you are not used to sharing, and you are not used to playing games together. You’ve always related primarily to adults, who want to teach you things instead of playing with you.

As a result of that parental attention, you will, most likely, be smarter, and considered “gifted.” You will be more focused on academic stuff and serious stuff than kids around you. You will never be a part of the crowd. You stand out too much, and you don’t see why you should.

You will expect to have the final word on things when you are with peers or subordinates. The only people you really listen to are people who you consider to be wiser than you (usually older, too). You soon feel you are smarter than your teachers, and take on an air of haughtiness or superiority. You talk authoritatively. You are not sensitive to the needs of others, like most of the rest of the kids.

On the playground, this translates to the kid with his nose in an Asterix book, while everyone else is playing hopscotch or kickball. If he does play kickball, he tells everyone else what to do. If he doesn’t get his way, he sulks. He’s the one who has to direct the other kids to the next activity. If he runs up against another strong-willed boy, they will have a love-hate relationship. Both will like each other because the other is interesting, but they will not be able to establish a pecking order. If one can read Harry Potter in first grade, the other becomes a gymnast who is constantly demonstrating his skills.

The examples I give are purely fictional, and have nothing to do with any real persons or events.

for more ideas about this, you might want to look here

cookieman's avatar

@daloon: That descriprion was so far off base from my life as an only child, it’s laughable.

although I’m sure someone exists to fit that description

Facade's avatar

@daloon I think you’ve hit the nail on the head, and described some facets of my pretty well :P

cookieman's avatar

^^ there’s one now ^^

Facade's avatar

and proud of it

wundayatta's avatar

@cprevite: What? You mean people aren’t all the same????? ;-)

cookieman's avatar

@daloon: I know, it’s shocking.

By the way, @Facade: Hellooo fellow only child.

Facade's avatar

Heyyy :)

cak's avatar

My daughter spent the first 9yrs of her life being an only child and truly, I never thought I would have another child. Luckily, I do have another child, now! :)

My daughter had some of the “typical” only child behaviors and can still exhibit them – single play. She was fine playing by herself, but played well with others. She actually tended to yield to the other children, I always joked because she was just happy that there were other children around. She was more “adult” about her attitudes, because she spent more time around adults.

There were other things, but never one was she the only child with that “it’s all about me” attitude. She was pretty laid back, easy going and was pretty unflappable. Still is. She welcomed the chance to be an older sister; however, she may ague that now…he wants to follow her, everywhere! darn those little brothers!

I can’t tell you how many people used to tell me that I’d regret (obviously this was before I had my son) only having one child, because she would be spoiled. If anything, my son is more spoiled than my daughter. She’s pretty unassuming and doesn’t ask for much.

I think in ways that they are different, because they tend to spend more time with adults – not always true, but more likely. They might look at things a bit differently; however, when it comes down to the basics, they are still kids and they still like to play, a lot! yes, I played with my child…many mud pies, many tea parties. Lots and lots of fun was had – still is!

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