Only the lonely - only-child thread

I wasn’t sure if there were any other threads here like this, but are there any other only-childs here? If so, perhaps it’s a place to discuss experiences if people want, or how it affects you in your desire to have children, names, etc. Anything really :slight_smile:

I can go first. My mom had some health issues and it was a risk for her to even carry me, but she did, but she wasn’t able to have any children afterwards. My parents did consider adopting on and off but they never really pursued it. I did see cousins a few times a year, but it was a more solitary existence for me growing up. Lot’s of imaginary friends, reading and writing stories etc.

I definitely want a bigger family I think because of this, but the idea of having more than three scares me a bit because three seems a lot compared to one :slight_smile: The nice thing about being an only is the close connection you form with parents and not competing (I imagine) with siblings for attention. So I am perhaps over worried about how I would divide my attention across my future children. The other thing is that I don’t have much experience of larger family dynamics.


I’m not only child, but as the youngest of a large family, I’d love to know the experiences of only children!
Because in my family… it means… not much individual attention and minimal or a lot of action. I’ve never actually thought about what being an only child would be like, so I’d like to hear what it’s like for others.


I’m an only child (with a few stepsiblings that came into my life later and are much older). In the future, I definitely want to adopt multiple children close in age, as I’ve always wanted a sibling or siblings. I know this might seem kind of trivial, but one way in which it affected my childhood is that whenever my family went to the beach or something, my parents would never go into the water and I wouldn’t have anyone to play with. [name_f]My[/name_f] parents are both one of four children and although they do have their disagreements, including a feud between two of my mom’s sisters that’s lasted throughout much of their adulthood, the bonds and shared memories that follow you through your whole life seem unmatched by anything else, even with the fights that come along with it. For this reason I’d feel almost as if I’d be denying my child something important that I always felt was missing if I didn’t give them a sibling. (No offense meant to parents of only children – I’m sure you made the best decision for you and your family.) Obviously, everyone’s experience is different, and some people, I’m sure, thrive as only children. That’s just my take.


Only child here! One of my moms stipulations for having a child (she had raised a crap ton of kids by the time I was born so she knew what she needed to happen and what she couldn’t live with and all that - she literally had a contract w my dad lol) was actually that they would have two because she did not want an only child. Sadly, she miscarried 5 other babies and couldn’t take any more losses, plus she was getting older and didn’t feel comfortable with the risks so they stopped trying (although my dad wanted to keep trying). It ended up being good that they only had one though because my mom developed some very serious health issues when I was around 5 and from when I was about 5-10 my mom could only be out of bed for 1-2 hours everyday.

I hated being an only child until I was about 12 and then this widowed father came into our life who pawned his kids off on anyone he could whenever he could. They usually got put with us, so they were at our house (or we were at theirs) a lot of the time and his two little girls became like my sisters. It was then that I learned I was VERY happy to be an only child lol! They drove me absolutely insane. Since then, I’ve been pretty content with it up until the last few months. I watched [name_m]Little[/name_m] Women and I’ve been wishing I had sisters ever since! Also, about a year and a half ago I got really close with this guy and he was literally like my little brother. He was in my phone as ‘brudder’ I was in his phone as ‘sidter’ his mom was in my phone as ‘mom #2’ I was at his house all the time it was great. That all went to crap, but I do really miss having a “brother”. So I have kind of wanted siblings the last few months or so (provided they were ones I would’ve been friends with anyway lol), but I am very happy I didn’t “have” to compete with any my whole life.

As for my own kids, I go back and forth with how many I want, but 3 seems to be the number I come back to most often. Although it swings back and forth anywhere from 1-5 kids.

(Didn’t edit any of this, sorry)

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@aventurine I can understand what you mean about playing. Because of my mom’s health I mostly played with my dad or on my own, except when with cousins or neighborhood friends.

I think you tend to grow up a bit quicker maybe by being around adults mostly.

I hope this doesn’t come across too weird because it wasn’t, but in some ways I felt like I needed to fill the roles of a daughter and son. Of course even multi-children families can have all girls or all boys, but being just the only one, I became more conscious at some point that my dad maybe wanted someone to throw a ball with, if that makes any sense?

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@futuremama this sounds so similar. And [name_m]Little[/name_m] Women…it’s such an emotional movie for me because when I first saw it (and since) I feel exactly the same way. The same with [name_m]Little[/name_m] House and The Waltons. Are there any shows with only children? Of course, then I tell myself that it is fictionalized and so idyllic, even the arguments seem wonderful. But like you when I was with cousins and could not escape it drove me crazy too :slight_smile:

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There’s always [name_m]Gilmore[/name_m] Girls!

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Yes, I have to remind myself of that as well!

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Omg! This is such a good idea. I’m 17 and an only child. It’s something I really struggled with when I was younger as my mum became pregnant but was never able to carry to term and miscarried. I always found this so sad as she had told me I was going to be a big sister and then all of a sudden, I wasn’t anymore. [name_f]My[/name_f] parents also struggled with the process of adoption but were never properly matched with a child which was very upsetting for our family.
I really missed having people to play with as a young child, I also happen to be very much in the middle in age with my cousins. One half are in their mid to late 20s and the other half are 1 to 5. So I never had anyone my own age.

It’s definitely effected my thoughts on having kids. I feel like I need to have kids earlier because I don’t want to get to a stage later in life and then only be able to have one child. And I want a large family, probably around 5 kids with fairly close age gaps so that they can be playmates as children and support as adults.

Sometimes having no siblings was good because I had my parent’s full attention when they weren’t working and it probably enabled us to go on holidays more or be able to afford school trips as it was just me. However, I hate the stereotype that only children are really spoilt and bratty. I have been told many times that as an only child I must get everything I want when I want, which is simply not the case.


this is so relatable. Although my dad would never say it, I often think he would have loved a son as well as a daughter (not instead of) but he always wanted to do football (soccer) and martial arts with me which being quite a ‘girly girl’ I never enjoyed but I just did it anyway to please him. I also think my dad would be less protective if I had siblings. Not that being protective is a bad thing but you know what I mean.

I also forgot to say that I’ve a lot more about being an only child during covid especially when we were in total lockdown. I usually rely on school , church, social groups etc to speak to people my age and my friends are a big part of my life because I see them as my sisters in many ways. Not having any socialisation with people my age for last few months has been hard. I feel like that’s selfish to say because of course the situation has been harder for those who lost relatives or those working in medicine etc. but i hope what I said makes some sense.

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Going to come in as both an only child and an on only grandchild (no cousins on one side at all and no contact with the family on the other side, so essentially zero cousins).

I’m going to ruin this by saying I loved being an only child. I’m ridiculously close to both my parents, they never made me feel like they wanted more than they got, and my grandparents took me for 2 weeks every summer to go caravanning, visiting new cities and to see what [name_f]England[/name_f] had to offer. Absolutely fantastic childhood. When I asked Mum, she said that she had expected to have 2 children, but she would have had to give up her job to have another as they couldn’t afford the childcare and she’s too work-oriented for that (she had already dropped down to part-time when I was a baby). No regrets for any of us.

What was harder, and is harder now, is that I am the only person my age in my close family. I have one uncle (who is obviously a lot older) and all my grandparents are now dead. I have no first cousins I speak to and I see my second cousins very rarely. [name_f]My[/name_f] parents are now moving abroad and I feel abandoned as an adult since they’re leaving me with nobody here in this country. It’s a me problem honestly. I have friends who have become family, I will be fine.

I’m debating just having the one child. I don’t want to set my career back decades by having several, guess I am like my mum. Got told by a friend that was tantamount to child abuse, so that was kind of them. I don’t want to negate anyone’s experience where they hated being an only child and would say you need to have ‘a good reason’ for it, but that seems to be the public perception - it’s okay to not want an only child and end up with one, but it still seems unacceptable to plan for that.

Anecdotally, Mum said I said no to wanting siblings by the time I was 6 when the reality kicked in. Guess I was just a selfish kid! ETA: So I guess I’m the anti-title?


@emelfem People’s perception of only children is so bizarre! Other women have told my mom she’s not a “real mom” because she only had one child. She would always respond with how she was a full time nanny for 18 years before I was born, so she’s raised her share of kids! And even if she hadn’t, just…what? Like…what?

There’s sooo many pros and cons to being an only child, as well as having siblings. There’s no “right” amount of kids to have. And you’re a real mom regardless :rofl:

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I didn’t mind Dad time probably because I associated activity with it. We watched the Bad News Bears but I could never throw like that girl :slight_smile: He would pitch more and I batted. Side note… the main boy in the team is unisex named [name_u]Kelly[/name_u] :slight_smile: I was sort of in the middle, not a total tomboy, but not a full out girly girl either. It’s funny how we say we don’t compete with siblings but in some ways I did sense a competition with my parents as to how they saw me. It was very subtle (mostly) but my mom clearly wanted me to be ‘girlier’ at times and I expect there may have been a few private conversations between them that I wasn’t aware of. I am not saying they pressured me, but if there was any pressure I felt it a little more from my mom.

I was actually the youngest of all my cousins which didn’t help either. The ones I saw most had a boy 8 years older than me and a daughter 4 years older than me.

And I do know what you mean about the last paragraph. I think we all have different circumstances and challenges during shutdowns and distancing depending on our circumstances at home, work (if we have it still), health etc. I am trying to really be focused on all the things I can be grateful for at this time. Not in a pollyannaish way, but really recognizing what I have, what others are going through.

@emelfem I don’t think you are ‘ruining’ anything. Parents have different reasons for having no children, one child, two or more children, adopting vs not, etc. I don’t think it’s right for anyone to judge them from outside. It’s a family decision and a personal one. There are certainly upsides to being an only child too like you said. There are some challenges too, like you mentioned near the end where you can end up feeling more isolated as you get older. I know some only children whose both parents died before they even got married and they weren’t even able to share big life events like marriage, having children with them or a brother, sister etc. It was almost like being orphaned as an adult they told me.

I hate this idea/myth that only children are selfish or spoiled too. I don’t think it’s true either. But I do suppose we grow up in certain ways and that does shape our expectations and personalities. Perhaps I am selfish in the sense that I can become very focused on something and shut others out? Is that selfish? Maybe people who have been used to dealing with big families would have adapted to that in different ways.

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@futuremama that’s not only stupid but even a very hurtful thing to say to someone. Not a real mom! I totally agree with you.

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I’m an only-child married to an only-ish child*, thinking about having an only child. Truthfully, my experience as my parents’ only daughter and the only grandchild on my mother’s side has been nothing but pleasant. We’re a very close family. My parents mean the world to me. My grandmother and I were until the very last moment one soul divided into two, and I’m glad I had all her time, energy and love to learn everything there was to learn from her.

I knew my parents worked harder than many to make ends meet, but I still had a privileged childhood with lots of positive learning experiences, which wouldn’t have been possible if there had been more mouths to feed. Their sacrifices gave me, and still give me, access to a world and a life they never had, and I hope I will give them enough satisfactions to thank them for their efforts and love. When you’re an only child, being the cause of satisfaction and bragging with friends is a must!

I was and still am quite social. My childhood wasn’t lonely. I played and bonded with neighbors and schoolmates just fine. I’m also very fond of solitude. Being able to be on our own and feel content is a skill not exclusive to only children, but I’m glad I got it in such a natural and simple way. I could sit in the living room reading an entire afternoon while my mom and dad worked, and relished the silence.

The one thing that is very only-child of me is that I’m neurotic and bossy. I tend to assume that I’m charge of everything, until people tell me rightly to tone it down, listen and re-group. Over time, I’ve become much more of a team player, particularly at work.

As a kid and as an adult, I’ve never had a problem sharing material or emotional “things”. My parents taught me to value community and the good of the group rather than individualism for the sake of it. However, I also like “my” things. If something is mine (house, work desk, sporting equipment, car, whatever), I want it clean and organized, and no one can mess with it unless they get permission. This has been a fun one with my better half, because as a fellow only child, he also thinks that “his” things should look and be a certain way. It was pleasant and fun to turn his and mine into ours.

We’re not sure if we will have one or more. I first want to welcome this baby, discover myself as a mom and my husband as a dad, and devote at least five or six years to their development. If by then we feel like one is still our lucky number, then that will be fantastic. If not, then we’ll see if adoption is a path we can explore or where to go from there.

*My husband has two half siblings who are 14 and 17 years his junior. He isn’t particularly engaged with them, which is something I wish he would work on. At the same time, mental health comes first and if he doesn’t want to deal with his family atm or ever, then he doesn’t have to.

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I’m an only child. [name_f]My[/name_f] mom actually wanted three, but she had a very difficult pregnancy, so my dad wouldn’t let her have anymore.

I actually really like being an only child. I’m the only grandchild on both sides, and the only direct niece/nephew to my mom’s siblings. I’ve got a lot of extended family, though, and all of them have siblings besides me.

I was kind of a horrible kid. I lose my temper pretty easily, and I used to lash out pretty badly. Definitely don’t think that would’ve been allowed if I had a sibling. However, I’m also fairly mature for my age, and I don’t think that would’ve worked if I had a sibling either.

Sometimes, I do wish I had siblings, mostly to take the pressure off of me. [name_f]My[/name_f] parents have had very high expectations for me for years, and that’s lead to my happiness depending on whether or not I’m doing well in their eyes. I’m afraid of failure because I’m ‘their only hope’.

I don’t exactly plan on having kids (I have a lot of issues to deal with first.). If I do, though, it really doesn’t matter how many I have. I don’t really think my life was made worse for not having a sibling.

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