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Being an Only Child

Tanya Lee, Staff Writer

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“Oh, ugh, only children are always so spoiled.”

“You’re an only child? You are so lucky!”

“I wish my siblings didn’t exist.”

I’ve been hearing these things for years. As an only child, I was perceived differently, and everyone had their own opinions about me. In fact, one of the most common things I hear is how only children are extremely spoiled. Sure, I know there are some parents out there who feel obligated to cater to their only child’s every whim. After all, they only have one child, and many parents may be concerned that their children don’t feel loved. However, after meeting my parents, most people who have this initial thought can only gape in stunned silence at the iron fist with which my parents rule. Their strict disciplinary actions often leave my friends in awe at how I manage to even live in the same house as them. The idea that I’m spoiled simply because I’m an only child often seems like an insult to the very values that my parents work so hard to drill into my brain: working hard for the things I want, taking responsibility, and not acting like I’m entitled to anything.

Many people also believe that I’m lucky because I don’t have to deal with any annoying siblings. But surprisingly, I often dream of having sisters or brothers, simply because my life would be so much easier. Being the only child in the household, every mishap somehow becomes the result of my carelessness. Every time something bad happens, labels that only my parents seem to be able to see immediately call out my incompetency. The fact that I’m studying becomes an “excuse”, every word I say clear proof that I’m lying to get out of trouble, pushing me even deeper into the pit of guilt and shame. The youngest in the household, I never seem to be able to do anything right. So, as an only child, am I lucky? Not quite.

With no siblings, all of my parent’s emotions are deflected onto me. During arguments, the combined rage of both parents translates into silent tears sliding down my cheek as I lie in bed, listening to their muffled accusations. With no siblings, I have nobody to talk to or hang out with. My emotional confessions fall on the empty ears of my parents, unable to fully fathom the complicated social networks of school and the sheer volumes of stress that my need for perfection brings me.

Despite all of the drawbacks of being an only child, it seems like there are many hardships I’m lucky to be missing out on. My friends are constantly complaining about how their brother ate all of the snacks again, or how their sister won’t share the computer, or how their parents blamed them for their younger sibling’s mistakes. In such times, I often smile silently to myself, glad that I don’t have to deal with such things.

Being an only child also allows my life to be enriched. My parents have reminded me multiple times that if they had chosen to have more children, I wouldn’t be able to take any of the numerous extracurriculars I participate in. No flute classes, no piano classes, no dance classes, no Chinese classes, no flute ensembles, no youth orchestras, nothing. I never have to fight with anybody for the passenger’s seat when we got out on trips, and I never have issues with having to share my bedroom. Without any siblings, I have my parents all to myself, never having to share the spotlight with another child.

As the youngest, oldest, and middle child of the family, those characteristics that are always associated with these roles are all combined into a single cesspit that I am stuck in. I am the clumsy child that causes all the issues. I am the lazy child who isn’t living up to her responsibilities. I am the child that my parents don’t quite care about. But at the same time, these characteristics have melded into a single beam of radiant light that shines down upon me. I am the child that gets all the new clothes. I am the child that gets the best electronics. I am the child that smoothes things over in times of unease.

Overall, being an only child has it’s ups and downs. It isn’t up to us to control the number of children our parents have, so we’re forced to work with the hand with which we’ve been dealt. I will never know what life with siblings is like, and those who do will never quite understand how it feels to be an only child. Even though I can dream of having an older sibling to help me out or a younger sibling to play with, in the end, I’m still just an only child.

Photo Courtesy of THEODYSSEYONLINE.COM

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The World Is Our Campus
Being an Only Child