Growing up only

I am an only child. I am the oldest grandchild on my maternal side (and the only grandchild living locally for ten years) and the youngest grandchild on my paternal side. Yes, I grew up with attention galore. If you believe in the “only child syndrome,” you may think I have the following negative personality traits: spoiled, bratty, selfish, indulgent, entitled, self-obsessed, anit-social, self-conscious, or aggressive. And I do have some of those traits (or all of those traits if you catch me on a bad day), but I wouldn’t necessarily blame my only-childness.

I’ll be the first to admit that I am glad my children have a sibling, but that doesn’t mean that I would change anything about my upbringing. First of all, being an only child is amazing because you get to pick you own family. I hooked up with another only child early on and consider her my sister to this day. Plus, I enjoyed the addition of another extended family to go with it. How cool is that? While technically anyone could do the same thing, only children tend to do it at a much higher rate (no, I didn’t look up a statistic to back that up) and are fiercely loyal.

What did being an only child mean for me?

The good: It means my imagination is out-of-control vivid. My dreams are extremely vivid. I grew up to be very independent with a cool head in a crisis. My communication skills developed early because of all my adult contact (although hindered by my shyness). I was mature at an early age – but this didn’t stop be from acting a fool in my teens. I’m perfectly comfortable being alone. In fact, I crave my alone time to recharge.

The not-so-good: I like to do everything on my own. I seriously hate asking for help and admitting that I cannot do something. Being an only child nurtured and cultivated my introvert personality. Now I enjoy being an introvert, but spent many years trying to figure out how to be comfortable in some social situations. This is still a struggle for me. My imagination is out-of-control vivid. Yes, this one is a pro and a con. The vivid imagination gets in the way when you have a tendency to dwell on things and hold grudges.

Overall, being an only child rocks. I wouldn’t change a thing.



  1. Thank you for this contribution to dh’s & my on-going “Are we screwing up our kid by not letting him have a baby sister?” discussion.

    1. Im an only child and im often lonely even in large 50 yrs old and love to read stuff about being an introvert and an only child. Number 9 on the list of facts about introverts is right on..I want to be invited to a table not just walk up and sit down.

  2. I’m a major introvert (but I’m not shy). I have a sibling but I have an only child (who may or may not remain as such). You and I are very similar, even though I have a sibling. I’m horrible at asking for help, and have a VERY vivid imagination, which is both good and bad. Since we share these characteristics even though I have a sibling, I wonder if it’s more of an introvert thing than an only child thing? Thoughts?

  3. I just found this and want to thank you for it, Stephanie. The ship has sailed on my husband and I having a second child and even though our son is 7, it still kills me that I am wronging him in some way. He has a happy, very full life of cousins and friends and sports but has said he’d love a brother and he adores babies. WE’RE more than content with just him but I do worry for his sake and that he might later resent us. So I love reading things like this from onlies. Thanks again!! 🙂

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