Guest Post By Muriel McGrath.
What’s it like to be an only child?
A personal view of the good points and bad points of being an only child
[Daniel Radcliffe: a famous example of an only child. Photo by Justine]
Although becoming more common, one-child families are by no means a modern phenomenon. Many famous people through history have been only children; not having siblings certainly didn’t hold back the likes of Frank Sinatra, Franklin Roosevelt, Condoleezza Rice, Natalie Portman or Daniel Radcliffe. In fact, despite the stereotype of the introverted only, being an only child often promotes a level of confidence and maturity that can lead to great things.
There are certain down-sides to being an only child, both in childhood and later life. A lot of only children, myself included, experience a certain degree of loneliness and a need to find ways to fill the time more because there are no readily-available playmates.
The positive side of this is that it gives you the space to become a more imaginative and well-rounded individual, able to plan your own entertainment, doing things like crafts and hobbies, and spending more time with people outside of the family for company. My ways of connecting with the world included dance and drama, which as a quick look at a list of famous ‘onlies’ will tell you, is quite common!
An only child may well feel pressure as his or her parents age because there is no-one else who is responsible for their care. Parental attention is also not always a good thing to have constantly focused on you as you grow up. However, it’s important to remember that this can happen even to those who have siblings. One of the best ways of combating this is to plan ahead and keep the lines of communication open and expectations clear. Strong external relationships are also useful to help provide the support that might otherwise be found in a good sibling relationship.
Only children are often quicker to mature because they spend more time in the company of adults without other children. An only child might find that he or she is seen as a bit stand-offish by other children. Many famous only children attribute their gregarious personalities and success with people to the need to consciously overcome this and develop friendships.
Essentially though, apart from automatically having extra personal space and parental attention, only children are rarely very different from those with siblings, especially elder children!
This is a guest blog written on behalf of Baker Ross by Muriel McGrath.