What I’ve Learned from Being an Only Child

Ana Ramos, Staff Writer

Think of those times when your siblings play the annoying imitation game with you… Well I can’t. I don’t remember picking on my younger brother or being mad at my older sister, for the simple fact that I don’t have any siblings at all.

Many people come up to me and ask “Why do your parents not have any more kids? Do they have… problems?” No, they simply had me and thought to themselves “What a perfect child! We don’t need any more.”

Of course I’m only joking. My parents just decided they only wanted one kid. According to the Public Health Indicator Based Information System (IBIS), Utah has always had a higher birthrate than the U.S. as a whole. I don’t think that surprises anyone. However, I don’t even come from Utah. I come from Brazil and raising a child there is very expensive, and my parents worked full time on top of that. My childhood wasn’t like most, anyhow. I went through at least eight nannies by the time I was ten; I saw them more than I saw my parents. My dad also travels a lot, and my mom owned a gym at the time.

When you’re an only child, you don’t learn many people skills; it’s true. You have a harder time sharing your problems (or sharing in general). I have to admit; I was spoiled… in reality I still am. My parents never had much trouble deciding whether they could give me something or not, because I was the only one they ever had to care about. I always got the best toys and got to go on expensive trips. I often cried when my mom shared her affection with other children.

I learned that being an only child is just as tough as having siblings. I don’t have the same problems as most do, but don’t think for a second I’m “luckier” than most, because that couldn’t be further from the truth. Being an only child to me means when you cry, you cry alone. You are always bored out of your mind. You have no help with homework, and you don’t get to take care of anyone and help them make life decisions. Oh and when your parents go on trips without you, well… you’re on your own!

Susan Newman, Ph.D. in social psychology, parenting expert and best-selling author says, “Because of adult guidance and lack of siblings to lean on, only children are more self-reliant and independent than those who have brothers and sisters to fend for them.” I don’t need people’s help most of the time. I can make do by myself. That’s not a bad thing, I enjoy the time I have on my own. I don’t mind… But when I was little I’ll admit, it was a bit tougher.

I learned to be independent and self-reliant, to be assertive and persuasive, and to always try to get my way. I also learned that I need to work harder at sharing and that even though I can function without people that doesn’t mean I should. I have to try harder at making friends and keeping them close, not because I can’t live without them, but because it would be lonely not to do so. In entirety, I learned that sometimes a friend is all you need, and when you don’t have siblings it’s your job to go out and find a special someone all on your own.