I’ve faced this all my life. “Siblings?” they ask. “None,” I reply. “Oh, you’re an only child!” And I get raised eyebrows, sniggers, sneers, and even non-committal but pregnant murmuring. There’s a certain stigma attached to being an only child, the general perception that we are spoilt, petulant, and probably fit the word brat to a T. Seriously people, we aren’t all that different from you, and what you call our innate snootiness, is perhaps our inborn maturity.
Fact is, an only child has been dealing with being an only one all his or her life. And contrary to popular belief, being an only child is not a disease in itself. Don’t believe me? Read on to know what makes us strong, resilient, and mature.
1. We’re not arrogant, we have higher IQs.
According to a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, only children tend to have higher IQs, perform better in school, and are high achievers all their life – making them successful individuals on the whole. A lot of this has perhaps to do with the fact that only children get a lot of one-to-one attention with their parents.
2. What you call snobbishness, is our shyness.
Like everyone else who’s normal on a social front, we have friends, too. However, large groups tend to put us off – and when amidst too many people that we don’t know, we tend to be quieter. Don’t take this as us being snooty, we are merely trying to cope with our innate shyness.
3. We tend to avoid conflict, and so usually get along.
As only children, we have missed out on the rough and tumble of siblings. We do not know how to fight it out with peers, and hardly know how to make up after that. So we try to avoid conflict on the whole, though we may sulk and walk around in a huff. Usually, this means we agree with the majority more often than we like to, and end up being labeled as team players, even if we really aren’t.
4. We are natural born worriers, but not bossy.
Only children are often labelled as being bossy and domineering. To an extent, this may hold true – since childhood, we’ve gone our way, unhampered by siblings. To a great level, this also means that we operate autonomously – it’s very often our way or the highway. This may make it difficult for people to get along with us, however – when it comes to family, it means that we very often take on the mantle of being the mother hen to every member.
5. We have friends, but like our “me” time too.
How often do you hear people crib about having too much on their social plate? Not many of these complaining lot will be only children. Simply because as much as we like our friends and their company, we are used to spending some alone time and we value that highly – it keeps us sane!
6. We get along with authority figures.
We’ve dealt with authority figures all our lives. Unlike children with siblings, while we got all our parents’ love and affections, we bore the brunt of their temper single-handedly too. This means that early on, we learnt to deal with the adults and authority figures in our life – and this holds in good stead even when we ourselves are adults.
7. We are our biggest critics, and competition.
Think because we didn’t face sibling rivalry, we are not competitive? Well then you are wrong. We are our biggest critics and tend to push ourselves into doing more, achieving more, and just trying to be more. Perhaps a result of us being the only person our parents could pin their hopes on. So love and affection sure, but we are also under intense pressure from our parents to succeed, however inadvertent.
8. We are not so very different from you.
Like all children, siblings or not, we pick up what we get from our parents and formative years and mold ourselves accordingly. Not having siblings does not make us any more or less weird – it just makes us what we all are – human, with our own unique foibles and follies. The thing about being an only child is that it is as normal as it not being one.
Remember that while being an only child may not make us special, it does not make us any less than a child who has had siblings. It is how it is, and only children make the best of it, like everyone else.