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Is there such a thing as ‘only child’ syndrome?

child balloons beach

There’s been a bit of talk lately about only children. In particular, this article on Daily Life caught my eye. The author is an only child and talks about how being an only child was a great experience.

For all intent and purposes I was an only child. Yes, I had older brothers and sisters from my parents’ first marriage, but by the time I came around they had grown up and moved to various corners of the country. I really only saw them a couple of times a year, and they were really more like Aunts and Uncles than siblings.

Growing up, I enjoyed my childhood. I had a great imagination, and with older parents who were always occupied with one thing or another, it was a good thing. I could spend all day making up games and stories, jumping on the trampoline or listening to music. I was happy. I didn’t know anything different.

When I used to go to friends’ houses it was odd being in a house with lots of kids. I found it intriguing and a little scary with all those different personalities around. And noisy! But I’d go back home and return to what I knew best.

That’s not to say there weren’t times that I longed for a sibling. At certain times, I would be overcome by a feeling of loneliness when all I wanted was a sister or a brother to share my life with. I even used to get angry at my parents for being selfish and not giving me a sibling!

Those feeling usually bubbled to the surface during emotionally trying times. It was then where I wished I had someone close to share feelings and hold my hand. Certainly losing my mother to cancer when I was 15, was one of those times.

But those times were few and far between. Back then.

Now, it’s a different story. Now, more than ever I long for siblings. For cousins for my children. For friends who are always there, but who know you better than anyone else.

So while I do agree that only-child shaming is ridiculous and uncalled for, I can see both sides. But everyone is different. Everyone’s childhood is different. There are only children who hated growing up ‘alone’, and those who loved it. There are those who live up to the stereotypical only child of being spoiled and selfish and not knowing how to share, and those who are the opposite.

And then there are those who grew up in big families and hated it too.

There are also many reasons that parents choose to have an only child, or a big family. Sometimes, they don’t’ even get that choice. For some, one baby is their miracle baby.

There’s no perfect childhood, no perfect number of children. What matters is that children are safe and loved. No matter who their family consists of.

What did your family look like growing up?