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FAMILY LIFE | What does it mean to be an only child?




Ruth S. Morales

GROWING up along with six siblings in the house, I was always curious how it is to be an only child. Do they want siblings? Are they lonely? Is it true that they’re spoiled and self-centered? Do they struggle sharing because they didn’t have anyone to share with when they were growing up?

“I never wanted a sibling as a kid. I liked being an only child and thought it was advantageous for our family economically.” says Kristine, a government employee.

“I yearn to have siblings who could have my back and help me relate more in this generation,” says Anjeliz, a psychology student.

“Some people think that being an only child is “lucky” but it’s actually not. My parents never spoiled me. They always make me work at home” says RG Lynned, a senior high school student.

Being an only child used to be stereotyped as spoiled, selfish, lonely, bossy, and with poor social skills. This stereotype, which was called Only Child Syndrome, resulted from the study done by psychologists in the late 1800s. Their study concluded that children without siblings possessed peculiarities and a long list of negative behavioral traits. The study pushed the idea that children would be better off with siblings.

More studies were done in the following years to see if this stereotype was true, and the majority of studies have debunked the existence of this syndrome. More research proved that being an only child doesn’t necessarily make one different from children with siblings, as there are different factors that contribute to the shaping of a child’s character. The lack of a sibling doesn’t make one become self-centered or antisocial, especially now when there are more opportunities for children to socialize. So, this should not pressure the parents to have more than one child, or for the child to feel bad being an only child.

As I read through the testimonies below, I see no hint of negative attitude, but only of humility in admitting sporadic loneliness, maturity in acknowledging the need to relate to others, a strong sense of self-awareness, and security that come from the undivided love and attention from parents. 

I liked being an only child. It was a bit lonely but I’m thankful to receive undivided love and attention from my parents. It also helped me be in-tune with the emotions and struggles of the adults from a young age. I remember acting so mature even when I was still 7. However, as I grew and socialized more, I learned to loosen up and act my age better. As an adult now, I think having a sibling would be so fun and exciting, and I’m really excited to have two younger sisters [in-law] soon!  – Kristine Joyce Portillo

I have the undivided attention from my parents. It keeps the relationship closer, making them my best friends. I relate more to adults than people of my age. Having daily conversations with two adults in my life shaped my interests. Being an only child suits me as an introvert, too.  I can stay in my room or anywhere in the house without being bothered or disturbed.  I have no sibling rivalry to drain my energy and time with. It doesn’t mean that I am not social, I just enjoy the company of others as much as I enjoy my own. Growing up alone gets lonely sometimes so I sometimes yearn to have siblings. Also, I can be extremely sensitive which stems from the high standards and expectations I put myself into as an only child. Anjeliz Deborah Yap

Being an only child can be lonely sometimes, but I also enjoy being alone by myself. However, being alone at home, especially this pandemic, can be tough because I sometimes need someone’s help or someone to talk to. To the question “Do you wish to have another sibling?” which I do get a lot, I only reply by saying “Yes, but sometimes no” because I understand my parents’ limitations. Sometimes I feel lucky because my parents take care of me and give me everything I want as a reward for doing chores at home. Being an only child, I feel content because I have my parents who make me feel happy.  – RG Lynned  Gesulga



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