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?

Alliwantisaroomsomewhere Sun 30-Dec-12 23:42:18

I had 4 sisters - one died many years ago, two live in one country, the third in another and me in yet another. But they are still my sisters, so YANBU.

My Ds is an only child though and I worry about him feling this way in later years. I am 46 now. Not sure if I have the energy to try for another at my age???

Hopefully when you are old and grey, you can have all your children and their families over for big and happy visits!

ChiefOwl Sun 30-Dec-12 23:42:31

Absolutely, I have 2 dc but would love more. I swore growing up I would never have just one dc. I love how mine always have someone to share exciting things with (like Xmas) don't get me wrong they argue but they live each other very much . I am hoping their relationship stays this way.

Soupqueen Sun 30-Dec-12 23:43:35


I have a sibling. Can't remember the last time we spent a Christmas together, must be about 15 years.

peaceandlovebunny Sun 30-Dec-12 23:44:46

i have one child. i would have had more if i could.

i have one brother. i don't see him. he looked shocked when i pointed out that i'd never see him again after my parents die, as i only see him if we chance to be seeing them at the same time. i was sorry to have upset him but its true.

LiegeAndLief Sun 30-Dec-12 23:45:30

My only sibling is in Australia at the moment. Christmas is time for one of our tri annual phone calls (also each other's birthday).

CogitOCrapNotMoreSprouts Sun 30-Dec-12 23:45:49

YABU because you have no way of knowing or guaranteeing that, if you had siblings, you'd all still get along well enough or be geographically close enough to have the kind of relationship you're imagining. Your own children could easily grow apart as they get older. In my own family, my DB and I live 200 miles apart, speak only occasionally and don't spend much time together. No animosity just that's how it goes.

Ilovejellysweets Sun 30-Dec-12 23:48:12

Yes. I have 1 older brother who is an arse. So as far ad I'm concerned I'm an only child. History has repeated itself I have an age gap of 19 yrs between my boys so the wee one is practically an only child. I try to involve him in so much but I do feel he's missed out.

MichelleRooJnr Sun 30-Dec-12 23:51:14

Especially at christmas.
You have 3 children - you will have their company every christmas for a long time I'm sure.
I have 5 siblings. They spend christmas with their families / children.
I have no children and feel it badly at christmas.
I'd rather have 3 of my own with me at christmas than a phone chat with adult siblings.

ArtigeneAuberchoke Sun 30-Dec-12 23:55:43

I feel exactly the sane as you OP. I find being an only very lonely. Never did I feel it as acutely as when I nursed my mum as she died. I feel it at Christmas, on the anniversaries of my parents' deaths, on my children's birthdays.

Like you I have gone for 3 DCs and o hope they grow up with more of a sense of belonging to a clan and having a safety net of family behind them.

timidviper Sun 30-Dec-12 23:57:02

It's swings and roundabouts but I think YABU as you are thinking the grass is always greener on the other side.

Siblings can be great to share things with but, equally, can often fail to live up to expectations. Relationships are not always close even if you would like them to be.
I have one sibling who is unfailingly self-orientated and who, despite being on good terms with all the family and having just received cards and gifts from everybody for a birthday, has not sent any of us (elderly parent included) so much as a Christmas card.

Siblings are not always close no matter how much we would like that and I have had no phone calls or visits either.

MrsMaggot Sun 30-Dec-12 23:58:44

I am an only child and i always wanted a brother, i spent today with dh and sil and it was so nice to hear them talk about the things they did (and the way they fell out) as kids. It was something i couldn't relate to and i was a bit jealous.
I don't think Yabu to want somethin you've never had that a lot of people have but i think Im a bit bias coz Im in the same boat

BananaBubbles Mon 31-Dec-12 00:00:10

You're entitled to your feelings,but having siblings is no guarantee that you'll have a good relationship with them. My uncles caused my mother no end of trouble,though she does love them,and my cousins have done practically nothing to support each other through a recent bereavement,unless constantly arguing and injuring each other counts.

Of course plenty of people have a good,healthy relationship with their sibling,but there are no guarantees.They could be your worst enemy,or best friend or anything inbetween.

Personally I'm very content with my only child status.

Bunnyjo Mon 31-Dec-12 00:03:24

YABU - I am an only child and would have loved a sibling, but my mum had a late mc and also a stillbirth after me. Yes, I wonder if I'll feel lonely when my parents are no longer here. But there is nothing my parents can do about that and, bearing in mind what they went through, I understand why I'm an only child. I certainly don't feel sad about being an only child.

My family is now my DH and DCs. We are very close to my parents and MIL. Interestingly we are not close to my BIL, DH's brother. So, have I missed out? Probably not...

perceptionInaPearTree Mon 31-Dec-12 00:04:37

Cogito - I think you're right to some extent and tbh I look at my mother who has 5 siblings - and they regularly fall out - she speaks to only 2 of them. All because of how their mother played them off against each other. Perhaps this would have happened to me anyway?

Of course I am very grateful for the three girls I have. But I have had three because I don't want them to be lonely iyswim.

Zavi Mon 31-Dec-12 00:05:33

Y MightBU

Me and my siblings (3) fought all the time. I hated having them!

Now, I love having them. Our children - first cousins - have a blast together.

Hated my brothers and sisters growing up. love them now because they extend my DC's family.

my DC loves nothing more than getting it together with the cousins.

CogitOCrapNotMoreSprouts Mon 31-Dec-12 00:10:51

"Perhaps this would have happened to me anyway?"

Who knows? What's very certain, however, is that if you go through life feeling resentful about things you can't change, you'll make yourself miserable. Whereas if you make the most of the hand you've been dealt and try to appreciate things as they actually are, you're more likely to be happy.

HappyNewBleurgh Mon 31-Dec-12 00:27:03

I am an only and have 3dc. I don't feel at all lonely surrounded by them and all the chaos.

I don't crave a sibling now as an adult but looking back and observing my own dc, I think when I was a child having a sibling(s) would have been a good thing for lots of reasons. Thats why I wanted a bigger family myself.

Utterlylostandneedtogo Mon 31-Dec-12 00:27:57

Siblings are over rated

TwoFacedCows Mon 31-Dec-12 00:27:58

i have a sister and brother. I can not stand my sister, she is a actual loon, as well as being nasty and spiteful and self-centred. I , apparently, hated her from the moment she was born.

My brother on the other hand i get on quite well. he is a hot tempered pain in the arse, but we go out socially, for dinner etc and will speak via texts or calls. I never just talk to my sister, only if i need to and her the same to me.

I could start a whole great long bloody thread on her, but i cant be sure she is not on here!!

SO i would much rather not have such a strange sister, we are very different, so just dont get on.


ChasingAwhiterabbit Mon 31-Dec-12 00:29:56

I don't think YABU.

I absolutely love having an older sister, but then again we are close. If we hated each other then perhaps I would think differently.

However be thankful for what you do have and don't dwell on what can never change.

Utterlylostandneedtogo Mon 31-Dec-12 00:30:04

twofaced your sister sounds just like mine, spiteful, mercenary, nasty and self centred

Yanbu. I have 2 half brothers who disappeared into the care system when I was five and I've had little contact with them since.

I grew up as an only and I hated it. I only have my mum now and when she goes I will have not a soul left of my own family. No aunts, uncles, grandparents apart from my vindictive and abusive grandmother, and no cousins.

I have 4 dc. I don't want them to be lonely in the way I was and am.

TwoFacedCows Mon 31-Dec-12 00:42:33

yep! poor us. how funny if we were actually each others sisters?!

older or younger?

Utterlylostandneedtogo Mon 31-Dec-12 00:45:31

Mines older. Have a kid brother too

Droflove Mon 31-Dec-12 00:51:07

Yanbu. I was taught from a young age that my sister is a special friend for life and that we would always have each other. Fast forward 30 years and I have never doubted that and it's the way it is. I think kids do need to be encouraged to treat their siblings with love, respect and buddies for life. Otherwise even those relationships can break down.

TwoFacedCows Mon 31-Dec-12 00:53:39

oh bugger! you could be her utterly!!! grin

Utterlylostandneedtogo Mon 31-Dec-12 00:56:05

Ha ha I would laugh

TwoFacedCows Mon 31-Dec-12 01:00:07

phew!! I had to go and check your name, and thankfully you are not her!! I am expecting to see her on here as she is pregnant. She is mad and has now totally fallen out with me due to me not asking about her being pregnant! - like i said, we NEVER EVER jsut call each other for a chat, so why she thinks it should change now is beyond me! -- i know why, she just wants attention and is pissed because i didnt give her any!!--

louisianablue2000 Mon 31-Dec-12 01:02:51

I'm one of four because my Mum was effectively an only child (not my grandparent's choice, her brother died in infancy). You always get the people with bad relationships with their siblings commenting on these threads but IRL most people I know get on well enough with their siblings. Mum said as she got older being an only child got worse, especially when my grandparents were getting older and weaker. At least she had cousins who were supportive. I wouldn't be without my siblings, the shared history and family in-jokes can't be replicated and even though we live across the country we still make an effort to see each other regularly. When DS (DC no3) was born the various aunts and uncles took turns visiting and helping out which was fantastic.

perceptionInaPearTree Mon 31-Dec-12 02:31:33

I am not resentful in the least - I accept who I am and like my life in many ways. Just feel a little envious (not bitter) of friends who obviously have nice, functional relationships with their siblings, that is all.

Coralanne Mon 31-Dec-12 03:31:16

I don't know how I would feel without siblings. I have 5 (had 6 but one DB died at birth).

I find I do different things with each of them. My DB and I are the youngest so are fairly close as our DC's are roughly the same age.

I have one DS I go patchworking and sewing with. We also spend Christmas Day together each year.

My eldest DS lives 4.5 hours away and although there is a 14 year age gap we get along well. (When I visit her I sit on her huge verandah and get waited on hand and foot[grin ])

Another DS is in ill health and I rarely see her but always have warm feelings towards her and she knows she can count on me whenever she needs me.

The last DS has always been a very nurturing kind of person (she is a registered nurse) I have lunch with her at least once a week and she organizes theatre outings etc, She's pretty much the social secretary for the family.

Four out of the six of us still work full time so it's not always easy keeping up.

All our DC see each other on a regular basis.

Christmas 2013 we are going to try to get as many of my DM's 70 descendants together to celebrate her 95th birthday.

Coralanne Mon 31-Dec-12 03:32:18


ZZZenAgain Mon 31-Dec-12 04:19:57

have a brother and a sister, none of us are close. We all live in different countries but I have more to do with friends from school than with either sibling. We don't hate each other but we get on with our lives pretty much without contact to each other. Maybe that is unusal. My cousins cannot stand each other for some reason, I like them both but they are very different personalities.

My mother was an only dc due to the death of her brother who she didn't know. She told me she wanted us to have each other so we wouldn't feel lonely but in fact I don't really think once we leftvhome it made much difference to us

MaMattoo Mon 31-Dec-12 04:49:25

Oh dear, I hope my only child does not think this when he is older.
YANBU there is a special equation in the sibling relationship that nothing else quite matches, BUT you might not always get along. I now know more people who don't get along as compared to those who are happy and close knit. And I don't think parenting can be blamed for it entirely.

I have 2 siblings who I love immensely and we get along very well, speak everyday despite being on different continents etc. I am actually thinking of moving countries to be near them again.

But I have decided to stop at one child as I had the pregnancy and delivery from hell and would not want to go through it again. Hence your post made me stop to read.

cricketballs Mon 31-Dec-12 07:39:31

I had 2 sisters, 1 has since died. I am quite own about the fact that whilst I loved her as a sister I didn't like the person she was and if she wasn't my dsis then I would have never spoken to her. However we both knew that although we didn't like each other we would always be there if needed.

My other dsis is a different story and we get on really well and speak to each other on a regular basis apart from the time her ex caused a huge argument.

My dh is an only child and he admits that he struggles to comprehend the relationship that dsis and I have, also the dynamics of the relationship of our dc

Loveweekends10 Mon 31-Dec-12 09:56:31

I grew up kind of as an only child as my brothers were much older but now we see each other a lot. They are all really nice people and we get on well. You can't predict that you are going to have great Christmases just because they are siblings. Some people just dont get on.

McNewPants2013 Mon 31-Dec-12 10:01:07

I have 4 sister and 2 brothers, and I haven't really seen them over christmas. To busy with there own DP and DC ( thats how it should be)

CogitOCrapNotMoreSprouts Mon 31-Dec-12 10:12:12

For all you know your friends may be envious that you can spend time with your immediate family and are not duty-bound to go traipsing about the country visiting various siblings. Envy is one of the seven deadlies for good reason. smile

FlojoHoHoHo Mon 31-Dec-12 10:18:07

I know how you feel, when you look at other families that are close you wish you had that too but I do have a brother and I grew up hating him. Now he lives 200 miles away and I see him once every couple of years when he comes to see my parents.

CrispyHedgeHogmanay Mon 31-Dec-12 10:24:42

I'm an only child too and I have two children who are in their early 20s now and very close to each other.

We do feel it at this time of year because there are just my mum, the kids and me and it's just like a glorified sunday dinner. I also feel it a lot now because my mum is getting elderly ("I'm 84 you know") and when she's ill or somethng's wrong, there's no one to share the burden with. Once she's gone, I'll effectively be the head of the family and I don't wanna be a grown up yet! On the other hand we are all 4 of us very very close - us against the world sort of thing.

I'd probably be wishing I was an only child if I had lots of siblings so who knows?

manicinsomniac Mon 31-Dec-12 10:31:25


I have one sister and she is everything to me - the one person who I seriously can't imagine being able to cope with the death of. But, even if we didn't get on, I would need her. I'm single, my dad is dead and my mum needs a lot of help and can be challenging to be around (plus she's only 56 so likely to be around for a while yet!) So if I had to bear the sole responsibility for that I'd find it really tough.

I never wanted children but, to me, the one silver lining in getting pregnant for a second time in even worse circumstances than the first, was that at least my older child wouldn't be an only and feel like she had to care for me alone if I ever need her to.

DumSpiroSperHoHoHo Mon 31-Dec-12 10:34:39


I'm also an only child and have found it much harder to get my head round as an adult than I did as a child.

That said, I know plenty of people who have poor/indifferent relationships with their siblings and over time I have learned to let it go and live by the motto 'Friends are the family we choose for ourselves' and make the most of my lovely mates instead. I also have an only child myself and I hope she will learn to treasure her friends and build her own 'family' too. She's 8 and not remotely interested in siblings.

My only weak spot is anything to do with close older brother/younger sister relationships - I would have loved an older brother and if isee anything like that on TV/Films I'm guaranteed to shed a few tears blush.

perceptionInaPearTree Mon 31-Dec-12 14:59:32

Thanks, I wanted to see whether there was an only child who was happy as an adult being one! I feel it more as an adult too.

Itsjustmeanon Mon 31-Dec-12 15:33:56

I'm amazed at how many people don't get on with their siblings. I have two brothers, and am very close to both of them.

My mum is one of three girls, and considers her sisters her best friends. My dad has a younger brother. They do get on, but live about 3 hours away, and tend to be quite competitive. They don't like to see too much of each other. They still meet up at least once a year, and speak on the phone every few months.

thegreylady Mon 31-Dec-12 15:36:43

YANBU I am an only child too.It was so hard when my parents died especially. My mum and her sister were best friends all their lives and to some extent auntie's dc filled the gap for me but I always vowed never to have just one dc myself.

Salbertina Mon 31-Dec-12 15:39:02

Another one w a horrible sibling ..

CaptChaos Mon 31-Dec-12 16:13:55


You are also welcome to my brother. He comes complete with a vile wife who will constantly put you down and 2 DDs who are the most ill behaved brats it has ever been my misfortune to meet. My brother is fabulous, but we never see him or hear from him and he comes with horrible appendages.

DumSpiroSperHoHoHo Mon 31-Dec-12 16:56:07

Greylady - that must have been so tough for you ((hugs))

Losing my parents is my worst nightmare - they are in their 70's and I feel like we're on borrowed time. As well siblings, they and my DH don't have a great relationship so I know when the time comes I will have next to no support.

My extended family are lovely people but are spread out around the country and have their own families and priorities. I suspect when the time comes my husband's reaction will make or break our marriage sad.

CMOTDibbler Mon 31-Dec-12 17:02:19

You can have my brother if you like. He does nothing at all for our elderly and frail parents except hurt them. We weren't close growing up either.

When my parents die, which will prob be very soon, I will not see any member of my family again

noddyholder Mon 31-Dec-12 17:03:53

I used to worry about this with ds but tbh he has an amazing life and families are not all like the waltons.

natation Mon 31-Dec-12 17:05:33

I'm married to a 3rd generation only child and their extreme narcissism is very hard to handle, no aunts and uncles, no siblings, it's really hard at Christmas, thinks only of himself and forgets his family of wife and children completely. I hope our children cherish the fact they have siblings and that they share their emotions, material possessions and are responsible for each other, because I know they have missed out in having virtually no family on their dad's side.

noddyholder Mon 31-Dec-12 17:07:12

My son isn't like that but to be fair we have always had a very open house attitude to his friends. I have a close friend who is an only and her dh and they have just one too and they are a great family full of love and life

MoomieAndFreddie Mon 31-Dec-12 17:11:51

yanbu but even if you had a sibling/s there is no guarantee you would get on

i have a brother and sadly he is a bit of a twat tbh (and to be fair i think he probaly thinks the same of me)

slambang Mon 31-Dec-12 17:17:56

Another lonely only here. YANBU.

Yes, I know that some siblings are awful etc etc (Dh has 2 sisters, one is lovely the other is a nightmare). But even for those who are not close to their siblings you have the benefits of shared experience. (Do you remember when X happened? Do you think that mum's upset about Y? Why on earth did our parents do Z?)

Even if you don't get on, you have another person from the same background with a different perspective on your childhood and parents. At best they're a shared support and friend, but even at worst they shed a different light on your upbringing.) That's got to be a bonus.

noddyholder Mon 31-Dec-12 17:19:50

I am one of 4 and its just not like that. I think my ds would have liked a brother when he was little perhaps but now at 18 he is happy and very social. We are very close though and all of our friends and their kids are in our life.

BridgetBidet Mon 31-Dec-12 17:20:35

It's not unreasonable but has made me feel very sad as I have one son through IVF and we simply can't afford it again so barring a miracle he will be an only child. I hope it doesn't effect him badly, there are a lot of worse things he could be.

slambang Mon 31-Dec-12 17:21:57

And it's the type of stereotyped comment that Natation makes about only children's '^extreme narcissisim^' that only children have to learn to live with. It doesn't help. sad

chezchaos Mon 31-Dec-12 17:24:37

I'm an only child and I would love to have a sibling. My dad left when I was born, my mum is now dead and the rest of my family don't really bother seeing or responding to contact from me much so apart from my DH and children I do feel alone. I appreciate that not all siblings are close but I do envy those who have great relationships with their brothers or sisters.

catsmother Mon 31-Dec-12 18:04:26

This is one of those where you can't say you're being unreasonable, or reasonable, because as all the replies have demonstrated, there are so many different individual circumstances. Having family doesn't necessarily mean you get on with them, and in extreme cases, you don't even have the "shared experience" thing Slambang referred to if all contact has been cut. Conversely, people who are only children, and maybe their parents were too so their extended family is small, may be lucky enough to have deep, meaningful relationships with either friends or much more distant relatives who effectively step in to the space left by having no siblings.

I have one sibling - but we have had no contact for almost 13 years - with good reason. Regardless of a shared past, I felt my mental health was suffering through the contact we previously had always been such a stressful and unpleasant experience (extended family have since validated my feelings by confiding how they felt about my sibling's personality and behaviour too) and therefore I made the decision to cut ties. That does make me feel very sad and lonely at times .... not because I miss them as an individual but because I feel sad at what could have been had they been a different person if that makes sense ? Because I've never been an only child in the true sense of the word I don't know if my situation is better or worse ? But I kind of think it might be a bit like the cliche of feeling lonelier in a bad relationship than you would be on your own? Neither situation is ideal but one is "better" than the other.

I do feel very envious however of people I know who have very close relationships with siblings .... as many have already said they might not see each other for months or even years on end but if push came to shove they would be there for each other. That isn't true of myself and my sibling and I suspect the next time I see them will be at our mother's funeral. I actually feel quite sick at the thought - this isn't something which can be "made up" - and right now, from what bits of info I pick up every so often from other relatives, I think that occasion may well be made even more diffcult by how (very probably) my sibling will react.

I really hope my children remain friends as they grow up. My sibling and I were never really friends and it just got worse not better as we got older.

I've only skim-read the other posts on here, but I think I'm the only one so far who can say I'm an only, absolutely love it, and the mere thought of siblings gives me the screaming heebie jeebies - always has done, and I think it always will. I've married an only as well and he feels exactly the same way. Neither of us is 'extremely narcissistic' but we do entirely understand and respect each others' occasional need for alone time. Maybe that's what non-onlies see as 'narcissism' - we just see it as liking or needing our own company from time to time.

I find Christmas one of the best times to be an only because there's no obligation to be dragged around to extended family's houses, or make phone calls to people you never speak to for the rest of the year...because they don't exist! Stay home, eat crap, hog the telly (with NO arguments over the remote) and revel in the shed load of presents you've got because what family you do have hasn't got anyone else to buy for. Bliss!

Salbertina Mon 31-Dec-12 18:56:19

Catswoman- completely get that, same w me. I feel so sad at the loss but not of dsis herself ( shes really a selfish, narcissistic , envious person! ) but of the potential sibling relatiplonship that never was sad

DumSpiroSperHoHoHo Tue 01-Jan-13 11:35:36

I think the narcissism factor our a bit of red herring tbh and if people are inclined to be like that they will be regardless of family circumstances.

Ime a lot of onlies go completely the opposite way as they are so aware of the negative stereotype and end up being people pleasers who can't say no instead.

Hulababy Tue 01-Jan-13 11:40:53

I know a few only children who are now adult and they don't appear to be lonely or feel lonely. They seem surrounded by friends and also families of their own - partners and children - as well as their parents and extended families.

Likewise I know of several adults with siblings who have little or no contact and where siblngs really have no bearing on their adult life. Many adults with siblings only really see them when at their parents, as the common ground, and I often wonder how often they'd see or speak to each other if and when the parents are no loner around.

Yes, siblings can be wonderful friends and great company. But there is no guarantee. Just like their is no guarantee that an only child will or won't be lonely.

perceptionInaPearTree Tue 01-Jan-13 18:25:15

What I've observed in other sibling relationships (including my children) is how protective they generally are of one another. I certainly am aware that sibling relationships can be toxic as well - my mother is one of 6 and she is bitterly resentful of most of her family but she had a toxic mother who played them off against each other so hardly surprising.

SamuelWestsMistress Tue 01-Jan-13 19:27:34

Both mine have died at a young age in the last few years. I do feel cheated but in a different way. I got on with one and it was a bit turbulent with the other but unfortunately they hated one another so Christmas was always hugely stressful.

I guess I'm jealous of those who have siblings who get on well, but at least there is no fighting any more.

Chottie Tue 01-Jan-13 19:37:49

I have one sis who I get on well with, however I don't see her as often as I would like as her DP is not a family person. I try to get on with him as I love my two DN and would hate to lose contact with them.

I have 2 DC and I am so glad they get on really well. I wish I had had another child and that I had another 2 siblings.

fluffypillow Tue 01-Jan-13 19:54:42

YANBU OP. I am an only child, and hate it. My DH is also an only child, so our children have no Aunts, Uncles, or Cousins. We had three children mainly because we wanted them to have a family when they are older. We feel it's important.

Because I'm an only child DH and I feel a reponsibility towards my Mum, and we have no back up, nobody to share problems with. We feel suffocated sometimes.

It would be great to know that there was someone else there to help when things get tough. We feel very alone sometimes.

Being an only child is crap.

DumSpiroSperHoHoHo Tue 01-Jan-13 22:36:54

fluffy I know what mean about the responsibility for ageing parents thing - it can be very hard work & stressful, even when their needs are more emotional than physical.

I think a lot of the issues my DH has with my mum parents is their neediness. At 43 he is one of 3 of much younger parents and has only lost his grandparents over the last 5 years, so he just cannot relate to my situation at all.

I dated a couple of onlies before meeting DH and I did feel they understood that side of things better, although I'm sure it would have it's own issues over the longer term.

flippinada Tue 01-Jan-13 22:45:24

I read this thread with interest as I'm mum to an only child and I wonder how some parents of onlies would feel reading this back.

Haven't you ever wondered why your parents only had one child? Has it not occurred to you they might not have had a choice in the matter? It seems to be a very glass half-full perspective on life.

Saying that I can understand the concern about looking after elderly parents...but then again you could have brothers/sisters and it would still fall to you.

It's very sad that people feel they are missing out because they don't have siblings.

flippinada Tue 01-Jan-13 22:55:05

Just read back and that sounds a bit sharper than I intended; people are entitled to their feelings and to feel sad about it.

And of course I mean glass half empty!

JustAHolyFool Tue 01-Jan-13 23:00:33

I have a brother, don't get on with him at all, in fact he's a massive pain in the arse and was horrible when I split up with my first boyfriend. He has said a couple of really unpleasant things to me.

Keep in vague contact through my mother, only because it would upset my mum too much if we actually didn't speak.

But am jealous of the close relationships others have with siblings, so I see what you mean. But having a brother/sister does not necessarily equal having a good relationship.

perceptionInaPearTree Tue 01-Jan-13 23:01:40

flippinada - yes, obviously you can't always choose the number of children you have, I realise that. In my parents case they probably could have had more but my mum had an anxiety disorder and found having a newborn very stressful and she didn't want to go through it again. Of course there are some people who want more children and just can't have them (like my friend's parents) - I don't mean to make them feel bad about their child's only status. But I can't help the way I feel.

flippinada Tue 01-Jan-13 23:10:10

I do understand that PearTree, hence my second post. It's a very emotive issue.

I'll never have another child through a combination of circumstances, but mainly because I had very severe PND and never want to go through that again.

It is a shame though to feel you have missed out though. Lots of people have siblings they never see/can't stand or worse, who are/were abusive. I think when people miss siblings, they imagine a suppportive/friendly relationship, whereas that's not always the case.

ChiefOwl Wed 02-Jan-13 20:07:04

Flippinada I certainly don't spend my days missing siblings I never had, however I do get pangs when I see my friends talking about things they did with their siblings such as holidays with them and all the kids etc, or Christmas, or new year or days out. My parents could have had more children but chose not to, I actually asked them!

As a child I never cared that I was an only, funnily enough it's only since I've had my own children that it has bothered me.

strumpetpumpkin Wed 02-Jan-13 20:09:59

its pure fantasy. Me and my brother don't get on at all. i have cousins and friends that are more like family

flippinada Wed 02-Jan-13 21:59:34

I think pangs over what could or might have been are normal ChiefOwl - especially if the sibling relationships in your group are happy ones and you think oh, wouldn't it be nice if....

I do think its a bit unhealthy if you focus on it to the detriment of of other things in your life, like having the mindset of how much better life would be if you weren't an only, because that sort of 'romanticises' it all. That's just me pondering generally, not commenting on anyone in particular.

Both my parents have got siblings but I don't really know my cousins very well as one set are much older than me and my sister and the other set lives abroad, so having siblings with children of their owner doesn't necessarily mean a close extended family.

I do wonder how my DS will feel when he grows up. This thread has certainly got me thinking.

perceptionInaPearTree Wed 02-Jan-13 22:06:17

That's exactly how I feel ChiefOwl - like you I don't spend a lot of time thinking about this but do just feel sad about the things you describe and the fact my children haven't got cousins on my side. Many of the sisters I know, who didn't get on so well as children now get on very well as adults.

foreverondiet Wed 02-Jan-13 22:09:52

YABU as even if you had a sibling they might not live close. I am very close to my cousin who lives locally - he is an only child - and his DC are similar ages to mine. Don't think it makes a difference really that he is my cousin and not brother in terms of holiday time together?

Or close friends just as good.

flippinada Wed 02-Jan-13 22:10:09

children of their owner should say children of their own! No idea where that came from.

perceptionInaPearTree Wed 02-Jan-13 22:36:40

I don't think close friends are as good though - siblings have a special bond. It doesn't matter if they live close or not - from what I've observed.

mrsmalcolmreynolds Wed 02-Jan-13 23:06:47

Not really U, and I do understand how you feel, but I think you (understandably perhaps) have a rose-tinted view of what a sibling relationship necessarily involves. IME how well you get on/how close you are is the result of a whole lot of complex interactions, not least the personalities of the siblings involved!

I've given this a fair amount of thought, as I had a sister until I was 28, and she was then killed aged 26. So since then I've been an only child for a lot of practical purposes, and will be when eg. dealing with illness in elderly parents (who have been divorced for ages, before DSis died). However in my head and emotions I don't think I will ever be an only child and it is a different way of experiencing the world.

We got along fairly well as adults but I have to say that as kids it was a real example of having one person in the world who can wind you up (and be wound up by you) to a truly astonishing degree.

NewYearsEvelyn Wed 02-Jan-13 23:16:49

YABU. I have 4 sisters and a bro and I see them very rarely, get on with around half of them. 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. You will feel sad if you must,but you have 3 children. I'm just hoping that my fertility issues are not hereditary, or she could end up with no children or just one and how lonely will that be?

Kendodd Wed 02-Jan-13 23:25:15


I am now an only child (brother died many years ago with no children of his own). My DH has one DB who lives abroad with no DCs. We both really have no other family apart from our 3 dcs and our two mums neither of whom life locally.

I would like a big close family like some of my friends but just don't have it. I think those of us who do wish for this have romantic ideals about what it's like that in more cases than not don't fit the reality though.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

*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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now