To feel sad that I'm an only child?

(109 Posts)
perceptionInaPearTree Sun 30-Dec-12 23:38:46

At Christmas, particularly all my friends have their siblings to visit etc. I feel like I've missed out - I would have loved a brother or sister to have a close relationship with and talk to on the phone.

I'm very glad my children won't ever feel the way I do (lonely) as I have three.

Anyone else feel like this?

wispawoman Thu 03-Jan-13 18:26:49

I am an OC. I didn't mind it when I was little (I didn't know any different) but hated it from teenage years onwards. I think it was made worse by my mother telling me she only wanted one child! It is a huge responsibility when parents are old and there is only you to visit/call and you feel guilty about going on holiday or away for Christmas. I envy my DH who has several siblings all of whom, surprisingly, still get on very well and try and see each other regularly. Luckily they include me and I am close to my SILs. I am very glad my own children are not onlies. They are not in each others pockets, but I know they are there for each other.

idococktailshedoesbeer Thu 03-Jan-13 13:26:42

I have two sisters and I treasure the relationship I have with them, it's different to the one I have with close friends. I also have a brother and we get on though aren't as close. My parents are pretty old now and the thought I will have three people to share whatever happens with is a comforting one. I definitely want a few children if possible, it's the ideal for me.

But of course I know people who have been left devastated over toxic relationships with their siblings. And I have friends who are only children and blissfully happy with their lot.

Dotty342kids Thu 03-Jan-13 13:02:58

I'm an only, with parents who were also only children! So, growing up I was the sole focus of their love, scrutiny and criticism - swings and roundabouts. But as an adult it's much harder. When I've fallen out with them there's no-one else in the family (grandparents all died long ago so it really was only the three of us) to talk to or discuss it with or who can mediate. When my dad died last year I was the only person around who could help mum through it and now I am the sole focus of her attention.
I've gone from seeing her for a weekend a couple of times a year, and speaking to her once a week on the phone, to seeing her every 6-8 weeks and speaking every sodding day! Of course I love her and I wouldn't want her to be lonely or sad but you realise how much of a burden it is when you're the only child.
I'm dreading it when she gets older and more frail and it really will all come down to me.
Needless to say, I always said I'd have more than one child if I could (I have two) and yes, they do bicker and argue and I can't guarantee they will be best friends as adults but at least there will be two of them around to share decision making and hopefully support one another in times of crisis.

boomting Thu 03-Jan-13 12:57:10

YANBU. I'm an only child, and there are no other people of my generation in the region - the closest I have are some cousins who live on the other side of the country. I know that when my grandmother and parents have died, I won't really have anyone like that sad

EllenParsons Thu 03-Jan-13 12:51:38

I am the youngest of 4 siblings and I'm really glad to have quite a big family. I get on really well with all of them and see them quite often. I wouldn't want to have only one child just because of how I feel about my own siblings. I know plenty of people who are happy as only children though so I don't think it's cruel to only have one or anything.

fluffiphlox Thu 03-Jan-13 12:43:42

I was/ am an only child. I don't have children. My parents are dead. It's quite freeing actually. I have a husband, friends, my in-laws, some of whom are OK. I think that whatever your original family circumstances, you make your own 'family' as you mature. Who's to say if you or I had had siblings we'd have got on with them? What's the point of regretting a decision made by your parents?

mistlethrush Thu 03-Jan-13 12:30:29

I'm an only and didn't feel as though I missed out at Christmas - indeed it would have only complicated the visiting scenario what with in-laws to visit too...

My mother has 2 brothers. It was a great shock that one of them rang up to speak to her at New Year - I cannot remember it ever happening before. He didn't bother to come over when his mother was dying (we had her in our home for months before she went into a hospice) and just complained about the division of the estate without lifting a finger to help.

DH spoke to his brother at Christmas, but that was it.

My son is an only, not through our choice, but its just one of those things. He's had a whale of a time over Christmas being the only grandchild in the country on one-side and the only grand-child on the other. We've met up with other children over the period, and he has friends at my parents' as well as lots at home (200 miles away) so he's not short of company of children.

Some siblings may be great, others may be less so. Some onlies might get lonely, but others (like me) don't miss not having siblings.

HappyNewBleurgh Thu 03-Jan-13 12:19:58

I think on the whole a sibling is a good thing too. I don't suppose for one minute that all sibling relationships are happy ones. But it's more than just about having a ready made playmate about the place.

A sibling will have a shared understanding of what it means to be part of that family. What having those people as parents was/is like and a shared memory of the family in a way that friends or cousins will not.

Also being an only child does mean you bear the weight of parental scrutiny alone. Even if kindly meant the noticing what you do, the expectation, the joy or sadness at your actions is not set against the counterweight of anyone else. It has no other context and that can be a strain.

That is one of the reasons as an OC that I hoped for a larger family myself. I think being part of something bigger gives more balance in what you expect from others and yourself.

Iggly Thu 03-Jan-13 11:15:20

But Hula your DH works in an area where of course he'll see lots of breakdown.

I think on the whole, a sibling is likely to be a good thing. Yes you will get bad relationships but on average I reckon more are good than bad.

i didn't mean they could do that easily voice - just meant talking in hypothetical terms there are ways to compensate. ergo only doesn't have to equal isolated if steps are taken.

i think the anxiety is a perfectly valid reason - to say she could is imo untrue, she felt she couldn't.

swallowed - yes, because in the mid- to late-70s, the economic climate was SO much better than it was now and my parents could quite easily afford to just up ship and relocate. One of the reasons they only had me is because they couldn't afford more children. Luckily, both sets of grandparents lived nearby when I was growing up to help - moving away wouldn't have solved that dilemma, would it? My parents rented a house (not council but a housing association), had a right old banger of a car and we didn't even have a phone in our house until 1984 (when I was 11) because we weren't well off. Dad being a builder, mum working in a shop.

perceptionInaPearTree Thu 03-Jan-13 09:16:47

Also, I didn't start this thread to make parents of only children feel bad and/or need to justify themselves on here for their decision. It's my feelings about being an only child which I've posted on an anonymous forum to see if anyone else in my position feels the same. It's not something I would feel the need to say to my parents at this stage in my life.

perceptionInaPearTree Thu 03-Jan-13 09:07:39

'i do think though that saying your mum could have but didn't want to as she had an anxiety disorder is a bit harsh'

No, it's not harsh - it's what she told me was the reason which I am merely relaying!

for example i think the being an only plus growing up in a village with no other children could have been avoided by making the decision to move somewhere that served a child better.

for myself i chose to move back to the village where my parents and my sister and her children live when ds was 1.5. i want him to have the feeling of family around him and when he's older to be able to walk round to see his GPs or his cousins. i've also let him play out from a young age so he feels part of a community of kids.

so yeah - i think both can be managed well or badly and there are definitely advantages to being an only as well as potential negatives.

it is a bit hard to read this as the parent of an only. i do think though that saying your mum could have but didn't want to as she had an anxiety disorder is a bit harsh - she felt she couldn't have more and that's enough. you don't know what strain might have come with another child, you don't know if she would have lost the ability to cope altogether and your childhood would've been entirely different. she made the best decision she could for you all.

my son is an only - he's lucky to have 3 cousins close by who are quite a bit older than him but very close (especially one is like his big brother who he adores). i went through a stage of really wanting a second child and even considering deliberately setting out to have one alone but decided that gut feeling it wasn't right to do so.

i think just as siblings can be mismanaged (playing them off against each other, sucking them into the family toxic dynamics) so can an only be managed wrong. either way you can take preventative steps for the possible downsides - re: teaching siblings to treat each other well or encouraging an only to not feel overly responsible for you. the parent of an only for example should make sure they are independent as possible and don't overly lean on their child - maybe you can also make clear your wishes about what will happen when you get old and infirm and try to set aside the money for that.

the point is really that fucked up parents can fuck up any situation! siblings or none. ergo good parents can do all they can to make the best of any situation and put their child/ren first.

JingleBellaTheGymnast Thu 03-Jan-13 08:37:29

I am one of two, I didn't get on with my sibling at all as children, we really hated each other. We get on OK as adults but don't live anywhere near each other, or phone just for a chat etc. I can't see we'd be friends if we weren't related.

DD is an only, and likely to remain so as OH doesn't want anymore. At the moment my mum is in ICU and it's really making me think about when I'm old and DD will be on her own.

*Perception", I totally understand. I am an only child (male) who can't have kids. I have been single for 3 years. A lot of the time it doesn't bother me, at other times I notice it very much. Xmas being the obvious one. On Xmas Day it was just me and my parents and I am aware that very soon it will be just me.

Even if I had a sibling who I wasn't close to - maybe even hated - somehow knowing there WAS someone else actually would make me feel less isolated. I grew up in a small village, no other children, so perhaps a sibling might have been company back then.

Even if I didn't get on with a sibling, maybe I'd have been a fab uncle to their kids? I'll never know. I have a goddaughter but it's not the same as blood family. I have good friends, but they are all busy understandably with their families over Xmas and New Year so it was a pretty lonely time.

But you have lovely DCs instead.

Hulababy Thu 03-Jan-13 08:32:51

Iffy - it does depend though. Not all families work that way. For some people a sibling is definitely not a joy, I am lucky and have good relationships with my siblings although don't see them loads. Not everyone does. It is definitely not uncommon for there to be no relationship or even totally broken down ones, eps in adults.

Dh is a solicitor and deals with families a lot, normally around the time of a death but alSo before and after for different reasons.. The amount of family breakdowns he has seen is huge.

So yes, sometimes siblings can be a joy. Sometimes they can be nothing but trouble, sometimes a nightmare.

Fwiw dd is an only child. She's 10. It wasn't really by choice but that's the fact. As a child she is very very happy, is very social, shares beautifully, no issues at all. Financially everything is being put in place to ease any burden on her as an adult and we are elderly. Hopefully, as an adult, she will have her own new family of a partner and maybe children, as we'll as close friends, plus her cousins, to help her out emotionally too.

Iggly Thu 03-Jan-13 08:26:18

All those saying it's greener grass/fantasy etc - for many it isn't. Having siblings is a joy. As for sharing - that's one part of being a sibling but not the only. I didn't get much attention from mum, neither of us did, but that was from her upbringing not because I had a sibling.

Iggly Thu 03-Jan-13 08:22:06

YANBU for feeling that way at all. Those are your feelings.

I only see my brother at Xmas and birthdays (of my DCs - he's a generous uncle!) but the fact he is there is a huge comfort. We were very close as children, less so now, but having the shared childhood is such a comfort to me.

I feel quite strongly about only children and think they must be lonely but I know that I'm massively generalising. Which is why I had two DC.

Hulababy Thu 03-Jan-13 08:18:52

My mil does all the care for her father. She as a brother but he has never helped her, she doesn't really have a family relationship with him at all. Her wn husband, my fil, and ET own friends, totally unrelated to her and her father, are far more help and do way more for both of them. Mil certainly doesn't benefit from her brother IMO, close friends way more.

BunFagFreddie Thu 03-Jan-13 01:19:55

twofaced and Utterly lost, I don't speak o my sister, she sounds very similar to yours. I rarely speak to DB. Probably about twice a year and that's messaging on Skype.

DS is an only child and do I feel guilty about it. Then again, I split from his abusive, alcoholic father when he was 18 months old. I have never had any male admirers who were desperate to father my children, even though I did desperately want more.

DP isn't interested in having children. DS is 14 and he has always said he likes being an only child, because he doesn't have any competition for my attention. hmm That could change though! I don't think I could go through the sleepless nights and toddler years again now. I also have health issues that would make it a very bad idea to have another. I feel pretty lucky to have DS, we get on pretty well considering the fact he's a teenager.

teacherandguideleader Thu 03-Jan-13 00:26:41

I'm an only child. I would give anything to have experienced having a sibling. I know it is not always a great relationship between siblings as my boyfriend is estranged from his now. However, I can't help feeling like I've missed out. My mum is a single parent too. It makes certain things difficult as I am my mum's only real relative. Christmas is just me and mum - I spend it apart from bf as can't leave mum on her own. As mum grows older, there will be no-one to share her care with.

Mum and I are really close and that's great, but I can't help feeling like I've missed out.

DumSpiroSperHoHoHo Thu 03-Jan-13 00:17:04

My little girl is an only, not through choice. I hate seeing threads like this as it reminds me of how much she might have to put up with on her own when she's older

Try not to worry - she may well have a completely different perspective on it.

I always wanted 4 children, ideally 2 of each. A less than brilliant pregnancy, labour and rampaging PND, followed by other health issues (minor but badly timed and with a possible impact on future pregnancy) soon put paid to that. Also DH has never wanted any more, probably I suspect because he doesn't get on with his younger brother.

DD is absolutely delighted to be an only child - she loves seeing her friends and has no issues at all with sharing, but has no desire to have to do it with siblings on a 24/7 basis. TBH I really enjoy just having her to focus on and not having to divide my attention any further. I work and do also need a bit of me time/space to function properly - if I had more than 1 I don't honestly think I'd make a very good job of it and would probably end up in the loony bin!

onetoomanytoo Wed 02-Jan-13 23:37:32

i think whether you are an only child or if you have a load of siblings, everyone has the grass is greener moments, i guess its human nature,

my dh is the youngest of a huge family, mostly scattered to the 4 corners of the uk, he sees maybe one or 2 of them a few times a year, none of them were ever very close,

me, i am the middle one of 3, younger sis, older bro, but for most of my life wished dearly i was an only child, never more so during my mum's illness, death and the aftermarth, they both managed to make what was a difficult time a hundred times worse, i don't speak to my sis unless i really have to, i can't be bothered with the competing she goes in for, nor her nasty bullying, as for my bro, i can tolarate him, but he is far more intrested in my sis because he feels she is more useful to him.

luckily i have been blessed with several wonderful friends who i feel are far more like my sisters than my own siblings ever were.

for the record, dd is an only, and to be honest, would not have had the wonderful things we have been able to give her had she been one of several, i think she is happy as she is, she is an independent, outgoing young woman with a very happy circle of good frineds.

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