Are You an Only Child?

Updated on November 07, 2013
S.S. asks from Los Angeles, CA
27 answers

My husband and I have been wrestling with whether we want to have another child or not. I have heard lots on this topic from parents of only children and that's fine but I'm really curious to see what actual only children feel and experience as they grow up without siblings.

So.... are you an only child? Was it really lonely? What was your experience like growing up without siblings?

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answers from San Francisco on

Whatever you decide do it because YOU want another child. Siblings don't always get along, even in the most loving and stable homes.
My BFF is an only and she always thought she wanted siblings. But watching other people deal with family drama and fighting among brothers and sisters (even as adults) has made her thankful for her quiet, yet more stress free, upbringing!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I am not, but I had several discussions about this with my husband who is an only.

He said he enjoyed it. His parents came to all his games and events (no juggling or having to choose between kids' events). He was the sole focus of their attention, which as a child he liked. His parents went out of their way to sign him up for scouts, sports teams, etc, so no, he was not lonely. He had a very happy childhood as an only.

He says that hard part of it is actually now. One reason is that he is still the sole focus of his parents attention, which can be a little much. The second, more important, reason is that as his parents get older, he knows that any health issues, taking care of them, etc, is going to fall on him completely - emotionally, physically, and financially. He worries about that, whereas in my family, yes, it would be hard, but I know that my 3 siblings will share in these kinds of family responsibilities.

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answers from Chicago on

I am an only child. So is my mother.

To ask if it was lonely is a moot question regarding childhood. I didn't know anything different. I didn't have anyone to "miss", and I had plenty of friends around to keep my company. I never wanted for anything and I never had share (although my parents taught me that sharing was good manners).

Now, I do feel like I would like to have a family connection with someone else. I do miss that now that I'm old enough to understand that siblings can be close. I'm 36 now.

So, I knew no different. I was the center of my parent's attention. That was good and bad growing up. I was their first and only experience through the joys of being a teenager. They were hyper aware of who my friends were and what I was doing. They had no other distractions. So I didn't know what it was like to not have 100% of the universe be about ME.
And that wasn't really a problem until I moved out of my parents house and had to share space with a college roommate (or now, husband, too).

So, looking back, I can tell you all about the ways that I was overly spoiled (although I never thought that)...not with material things, but with attention. But as a kid. It was all I knew. And all of my friends has siblings, and would tell me stories, but I could never internalize their lives. Because it wasn't my experience at home. In other can SHOW a kid everything you want and try to teach them about things, but if their experience is different from what you're trying to's just not going to sink in.

Hope that helps.
FWIW...I vowed that I would NOT have an only child. I have 2 kids now, and now there's a whole world of things I struggle with because I don't know any better. Like sibling fighting and tattling...what's to handle it, etc...

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answers from Dallas on

I was the only child for 6 yrs and then came my brother. We never got along, we are civil today but I would swear we are not related.

I am the entrepreneur business person, higher educated, go getter and he is the one who chose not to further his education but get married, have children and try to live like WAY beyond his means. He is so deep in debt he'll never get out of it. He resents my success and resents the fact that I refuse to be his banker. If I did that, I would only enable his poor management and lack of responsibility.

I never grew up planning how many children I would have, etc. When the time was right and we decided to try to have a child, we thought long and hard about our obligations as parents and what our responsibilities would be to parent any child we have to make sure our obligations are fulfilled for that child.

We do have 1 child. She is almost 19, just moved out and in her first year of college. She thrived as an only, we were able to do so much more for her than we would have if we had more. We felt complete after 1 and we have no regrets.

It is a bit disturbing to read one of the other comments and how the mom judges all only children and tries to stay away from them. In reality.... children who have siblings can also be raised as spoiled entitled brats. I've seen some prime examples. It is all about how you parent them. Maybe that is the attitude from where she lives but certainly not around here.

It's funny... our house has always been the "go to" house because those with siblings wanted so badly to get out of their house and away from their siblings. I have enjoyed every minute of having multiple children here on weekends, some of these children joined us on nice vacations, concerts, etc. There was 1 poor girl who lived at my house every weekend because she hated her mom so badly and her brother was a nightmare. Her mom knew she was safe here and basically, she just left her with us. She will also have a special place in my heart.

I would never have another child just so my daughter would have a sibling. I think that is crazy. You can't guarantee that siblings will get along and I feel it is not right to have a child so that child can be fulfilled by another sibling. You can be fulfilled with how you are raised with your parents. You don't have to have a sibling to do that for you.

As for other negatives I have read... I did not have my child in order to have someone care for me when I get older. My daughter is not my retirement plan... I took care of that myself and she will have no worries as far as being obligated to care for us.

If you ask her... there is no way she would want a sibling. She is happy as she can be in her own condo living on her on responsibly. We modeled the behavior we expected and she is just like us... very driven, responsible, entrepreneur type and no doubt will be as or more successful than we have been.

It is a very personal choice and you must take a lot of things into consideration. For us, we love our tightknit family of 3 and there are no regrets.

Best wishes.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

I'm not an only child - but I always wished I was.
I have a sister that is 22 months younger.
Growing up with her was pure torture.
We fought like cats and dogs till we grew up and moved out.
We live in different states and we still can't stand each other.
I'm 52, she's 50, and to this day I have no feeling in my scalp from all the hair pulling I endured.
She was whiny, we were forced to play together (I had neighborhood friends I would rather have played with), she was always crying over everything - you could not go to an amusement park or even pet a cow without her bawling over something.
My husband is an only child and he loves it.
Our son is an only child and is very happy.
I could never put him through what I went through with a sibling.

Some siblings are close no matter what their ages.
They have compatible personalities.
Others are life long enemies.
You just never know what you are going to get.

I know some very large families.
Do NOT assume that siblings will share aging elderly parents.
It seldom works out that way.
Kids grow up, marry and move all over the planet.
Families disperse and the parents will pick one child and move to be near them.
As for us, my Mom lives in New York, I'm in Virginia and my sister is in Connecticut.
When my Mom gets to a point where she can no longer take care of her house then she will move to an assisted living facility close by to me.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I had siblings and was unbelievably lonely. People can't fulfill other people.

Have a child, because you can't imagine your life without another. Don't have a child to fulfill a preconceived notion of togetherness. It works the opposite more then not. I know few people who are close with their siblings, or even help each other in their parent's ill heath or death. My grandmother can't love alone, and guess who does EVERYTHING? My dad. He has plenty of siblings. My mother in law does everything for her mother, the other siblings don't even call. When her father died, she did every single thing.

The ONLY reason to have a child (the only good one, at least) is because you life is incomplete without them. You simply can't assume a sibling will complete your child, and it's an unwise and irrational reason to have one. Siblings should not be born, so that MAYBE, one day when you get old, they will share the load. (More likely, there will be ill feelings over decision of assets and care, rather then help. I digress...)

ETA: The "only child" brattiness myth, has proved the be just that. If you allow your child to be a brat, they will be. It doesn't matter if they are an only, or one of 12.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I'm not an only, BUT I wished I was through my childhood. You can't guarantee your kids will have a close relationship. I am in my mid 40's, never was close to my sis (2.5 years younger). Yes, I am there for her as a family member, but even if we lived close by, we wouldn't spend time together because we have NOTHING in common other than parents. We never have. So even with a sibling, my childhood was lonely in that way. But I had FRIENDS.

Do NOT have a child just to have another sibling. Have another child because YOU WANT another child.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I'm not an only child (I'm the eldest of 2), but my 7-year-old son is.

I can say, with total confidence, that he is not lonely. He fills his time with reading, and he's an amazing, unbelievable reader. He is very polite, very un-spoiled, and like most only children, he's more comfortable/conversant with adults than kids with siblings typically are. He has a huge vocabulary (and uses the terms correctly).

I see nothing wrong with parents having multiple kids if that's what they want, but so far I've seen no downsides to having an only child. None.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I am not an only child, but my mom was and my husband grew up as one (met his half-siblings as an adult). My mom always wished for a sibling or siblings. I don't know if "lonely" would describe it, but she definitely thought she would've liked to have had siblings. Her mom, my grandma, was very, very dependent on her. They had a very close relationship, but it could also be burdensome at times. No one to share any of the responsibilities (or good times) with her. My mom died a year ago and my grandma, 91 and still living alone, lost her only child. It's been a very sad and difficult situation, although in some ways my grandma is doing much better than I expected.

My husband didn't mind growing up as on only child and never really thought much about having siblings. He appreciates having half siblings now, although they aren't that close since they didn't grow up together. He also has a mother who is very dependent on him. Knock on wood, she is so far healthy, but even so it can be difficult because she depends on my husband and our family so much for her social life, family gatherings, etc.

I have two boys. Before I had two I once joked that my oldest son needed a sibling so I could protect him from me in my "golden years," based on the experiences of my mom and my husband!

This is all just our personal experiences provided because you asked. I don't mean to make a comment on whether you should have another child or whether these are typical situations for only children. Best wishes whatever you decide.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

I am an only.. I wish I had siblings. yes it is lonely but you get lots of stuff.. but I don't care about stuff.

when I was in the emergency room with my sick mom.. I really reallyl wanted a sibling to be there with me.

have another child so your child will have a sibling.

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answers from Seattle on

Let me add my 2 cents.

I am one of 7. But not from a happy home, rather a dysfunctional home. Lots of chaos, but lots of siblings to hang out with, grow up with, talk with, play games with. I was never alone. I have a hard time being alone now.

I have met happy, only children in my life, but not that many. The little ones I know now are quite jealous of others who have siblings.

Fast forward, and given my ripe years of 50+, the singletons now are dealing, alone, with their parents complicated and chronic health issues and definitely seem overwhelmed, IMHO. No matter how many legal and financial pre-planned and pre-paid services a dying parent thinks they have set up, the only adult child still has to make some very big decisions alone, and from my perspective there tends to be a lot of guilt and regret about making final choices.

And given the only children I see all the time now, the one's I'm exposed to through my kids, yikes, what attitudes they have when things don't go their way. And I can't stand having an only child over to my home, they think I should cater to them and their every little request. Something as simple as getting themselves a glass of water requires my undivided attention. Ugh. I have to set immediate boundaries with only children in my experience.

My advice, unless you plan to invest a lot of time in teaching your children to get along, they don't do so naturally. You must teach this behavior. Otherwise, you end up with siblings who detest each other.

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answers from New London on

It wasn't lonely..and I was forced to be more creative. I had family and lots of cousins and close friends that I was with multiple times a week.

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answers from Amarillo on

I am an only child. My parents married late and my mom had medical issues which caused problems conceiving. I some haw survived and am here.

My mom was ill for most of the time that I knew her. She even told me that she would not see me grow up and she did not (lost her when I was 9). My dad became ill and I lost him at 14. I was a bit spoiled during this time frame. However, after the loss of my parents and living with other relatives a reality check was in short order. No one else was going to do for me but me.

I remember my mom making me a survivor when all friends and relatives were having fun. I did not understand until later in life what my mom had done for me. She made me very independent and able to stand on my own two feet (I wish more children had this instilled in them).

Growing up was a bit lonely. I did get to use my imagination a lot more. I wished I had had an older brother and almost got one as a step brother but he, too, was an only and we were like oil and water a lot of time. The big brother tormenting the little sister thing.

I don't know what the future holds for how I would feel about loosing a relative later in life as I lost my two so young and so long ago. I just went to a memorial service for my BIL with my husband last month. His mom is 93 and still living on her own with a fabulous support system. She may even out live him depending on his health issues.

When I thought about kids as most girls do young, I wanted more than one and I had one each. They are three and one half years apart. For the most part they get along from afar. To get them together in a room it will take about an hour before thing begin to unravel. They don't live in the same state because of my son's actions and probably never will. One day they may bury the hatchet and live civilly realizing they are all they have.

Sorry I rambled on about things. But this is my take on only and more than one. Do what you want for your family and not for the child you have already. If you are on the fence about adding more than don't.

the other S.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I was an only child and I always said that when I had children I would have more than one. I have a boy and a girl and they are 3 years apart. I wasn't "lonely" but I think I would have liked to have someone there to play with, get in trouble with, talk with. As I've gotten older I really wish I had a sibling around. I see how my husband is with his brothers and wish I had a relationship like that with a sibling.

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answers from Washington DC on

I have an only child, and although it would be nice for my dd to have siblings, in general she really loves my undivided attention. We invite many kids over and she actually has quite a few friends that are only children as well.

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answers from Philadelphia on

I have an only child as of now and I want to have another baby for us but also for her. she is most of her childhood will be that of an only child. i regret not being able to give her a sibling closer in age to bond with, although her future stepsisters on her dads side are 7 and 5 so she will have that from this point on if things work out.

She is not lonely
she has TONS of our attention (at her dad's house its shared now)
we all go to every event and never had to call out of work sick for any other kid so when we need to for her its no issue
its cheaper
she is super creative. more imagination then anyone i've met...I had a sibling and never had to rely on myself for entertainment
no figthing/tattling
i know kids who wish there were an only child at times
she is expected to behave so i dont believe the whole bratty comment

She wishes for a sibling badly
she gets too much in she is spoiled attention wise
She has some issues making friends since she never has to bend to other peoples wants at home. she gets to pick what game we play, what show we watch. she shares perfectly BUT if kids are playing something she doesnt want she's fine J. walking away and playing on her own (go back to very creative in the positive side)

I think the sides are pretty much even depending on whats important to you and yes your kid might hate their sibling but I think that has more to do with parenting then the kids, but theres a chance they may be the best of friends.

I cant imagine only having one forever. i want her to have nieces and nepphews and know that love that comes from siblings and i want her to have someone to complain about M. to=)

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answers from Seattle on

Technically I'm not an only child. I have a half sister (same mom, different dads) that is 4 years younger than I am. But, we never grew up together and we never talk now, as adults.

So, I consider myself an only child. Being raised by a single working father in a retirement community was BORING! Watching paint dry was more fun. None of my friends lived close to me, and my dad was never home to take me anywhere. From 4th grade all through high school I was a latch-key kid. I'd come home, to an empty house, at 2:00, be expected to do my homework, do my chores, and whatever else my dad thought I should do, but not tell me about, and stay inside and not let anyone in until he got home anywhere between 6 and 10.

Lonely would be an understatement.

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answers from Honolulu on

I have many friends... that are only children. I have also had co-workers that are only children.
All of them said, they "hated" it growing up. And some still do now, as adults.
That is not to say, that all only children feel that way. Nor their parents.
I only know, what the friends/co-workers I know, told me.

I also know a married couple, who both are only children.
And they themselves, have lots of children. Purposely.
They have 4 kids.

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answers from Washington DC on

I am one of 5. Both of my parents are the oldest of two siblings. My dad and his sister are close, we see her several times a year and she lives several states away. My mom and her sister live 3 hours apart and don't speak. I blame my mom's mom for that though...I won't go into details.

I could never imagine having an only child. My kids are 22 and 23 months apart from each other and it's amazing. They get along really well MOST of the time and are there for each other...same as it is with my 4 siblings and I. We were always close and still are - now we are 32, 30 (me), 28, 26, and 24. We are ALL close.

I think the grass is always greener. My kids have friends from huge families and small families - there are pros and cons to both. You just need to determine what works best for you and your family.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

My daughter was an only child until she was 13. She hated it. She begged for siblings for a LONG time. We kept her active in after school activities, etc. but she wanted someone at home with her.

I am the baby of 3. My husband is the oldest of 3.

We each have different experiences. While they are different? We would NOT want to be an "only".

If you are on the fence? It sounds like you aren't ready for more kids. If cost of raising another child is scaring you? Get a budget in place to see if you can afford it. If it something else? Get a list of pros and cons together.

Hope this helps!

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answers from Los Angeles on

yep only child..........I felt VERY lonely and still do. Have no sibling to share anything with, when my parents got old and needed help it was ALL me. I also felt I grew up too fast being around only adults

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answers from Chicago on

I have three kids, and I had an older brother growing up. He and I were close, and were close still until he divorced his wife of 20 years two years ago...His new girlfriend is all about her family....

I just wanted to say that my greatest J. is seeing the J. my kids bring to each other. My 5 and almost 4 year old adore their baby sister. They light up when they see her, and my son cries if he can't kiss her good-night. It really is one of the most amazing things I have witnessed. I really wish I was young enough to have 2 more.



answers from Oklahoma City on

I grew up like an only child even though I had one brother and one sister. They were older than I was.

I hated being an only child at home. I had no one to share sibling stuff with and I didn't like having to do everything by myself.

I would say this has no bearing as to whether you want to have another child or not. If you want more kids have more kids. I think it is so much easier when there are more than one or two. It's so much harder with just one.



answers from Kansas City on

My husband is an only and we've talked about this quite a bit. He said he was never lonely growing up. He had a wonderful childhood. His parents were super involved and he always had friends/neighbors/cousins. He said he never wished for a sibling until we had our 2nd child. Now he sees our 3 boys playing together and wonders "what if". Also, he realizes now once his parents are gone (they are late-60s and super healthy!) that's it--no siblings. He's pretty close to my siblings.



answers from Raleigh on

This is always an interesting question for me. I call myself an "almost only child". I have two brothers- the oldest 25 years older than I, and the other 14 years older. My oldest was out of the house by the time I was born, and my other brother moved out when I was 4. I don't remember him living at home.
So, they visited, but most of my days were being the only child. I don't remember being lonely. Being the only child at home, I could easily entertain myself. At the same time, I never had to share my stuff or deal with an annoying sibling hanging around. :) I was also treated like a princess by my entire family. I was the big surprise in everyone's life.
My mom will be 80 soon and my oldest brother died last year. I am still relatively young (late 30s). My mom will probably not be around see my kids get married- I really do struggle with that realization. I hope my other brother will, but if something happened to him, I would be the only one left from my original immediate family, and that makes me so sad. I have always wondered if only children also feel the same way when faced with aging or deceased parents. Anyway, not to be a debbie downer. My point is- I think the importance of having a sibling comes much later in life.
Hope this helps.



answers from Bloomington on

I am an only. I LOVED it as a young child & teenager. Once I started having my own children , I started wishing I had siblings. Like with anything, there are pros & cons.


I am an only. I LOVED it as a young child & teenager. Once I started having my own children , I started wishing I had siblings. Like with anything, there are pros & cons.


answers from Grand Forks on

I was sort of an only child. I was much younger than my siblings, so they were out of the house for most of my childhood. I wasn't really lonely because my parents always let me have friends over and bring friends on outings and vacations. As an adult I am glad that I have my siblings now that my parents are gone.

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