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Siblings Suck (Or Why Only Children are Lucky)

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Momlogic's Andrea: I'm actually not an only child, but I might as well have been. My sister and I have never gotten along. Not when we were kids and not in our 40's. In fact my sister and I fought constantly until she finally went away to college. As the little sister I always longed for my big sis' approval. It never came.

siblings fighting
We haven't seen each other -- despite a brief, recent and uncomfortable reunion --in over 5 years. She didn't come to my wedding and she just met my three-year-old daughter.

Yet, anytime I tell that nosy stranger I only plan to have one kid, I have to endure a barrage of how I'll be "denying" my daughter a life-long best friend. Sure there are some siblings who have "always been close" but it's not ALWAYS the case. Some brothers and sisters, to put it bluntly, hate each other.

"She's going to be soooo lonely," those incredibly judgmental people lament. Hmm, I was lonely when I was I kid AND I HAD A SISTER ... we just never hung out - except when forced to at the dinner table.

From what I hear from my friends with more than one kid is their home is one giant battleground, filled with screaming, fighting, pulling hair, grabbing toys, slammed doors, finger pointing, complaining and, the very worst of all, whining.

Maybe my daughter will have her lonely days, but she'll also not have to deal with another person hanging around all the time taking her stuff, blaming her for things she didn't do do and lobbying for mom and dad's attention. My sister and I did plenty of that. For my daughter,  all the attention, love and resources will go to her and her alone.

Was how well you got along with your siblings a factor in how many kids you have?


26 comments so far | Post a comment now
Natalie January 29, 2009, 7:03 AM

I’m technically an only child (both my half brothers are 14 and 18 years older than me, and I didn’t grow up with them). I always wanted a brother or sister to grow up with. Honestly, being the spoiled only child kinda sucks. I don’t have that bond that a lot of other people do. Growing up, I never learned how to share properly. Why? BECAUSE I NEVER HAD TO. If I was mean enough to my friends, they would go home and never come back. Then I would have all my toys to myself. Yes, I know that you had an awful childhood with your sister, but not every sibling relationship is like that. Think about it.

ashley January 29, 2009, 8:58 AM

I had two younger brothers. Growing up we always got along (well, we fought some, but we all played together). When we hit our teens my middle brother and I hated each other up until I was 20 and had a baby and got married and moved out, we would have knock down drag out fights. I always got along with my baby bro though. He is 5 years younger than me. Now, we are best friends, he is in college and our parents live a few hours away, I cook for him and do his laundry, and tell him everything. Now my middle bro and I can get along (he lives in NC, I live in OK) but his problem is classic middle child syndrome. He thinks we get special treatment and he doesn’t we get more than he does, everybody hates him and not us. Because of these thoughts, my parents have actually done more for him. SO the 2 reasons I won’t have 3 kids is I don’t want my baby girl to have the middle child syndrome, plus we can’t afford another one. And actually I hadn’t planned on having my second one, but, my hubby is an only child and he was, is and always will be spoiled rotten. And I didn’t want that for my son. But I do feel bad sometimes because Lucas was 5 when Sophia was born and he was used to all the attention. So who knows only children and multiple children all have there advantages and disadvantages.

Julie Mead January 29, 2009, 8:59 AM

I have one child and this was a great article for me! We only have to deal with paying for the big bday parties for one kid, one kid at xmas etc etc. My son is not spoiled at all and I get sick of the insinuations that he is/will be simply because of the only child status

Meagan Francis January 29, 2009, 9:01 AM

I have to imagine it has had an effect, yes. I get along really well with my siblings (though age spacing and one of those awkward divorces where half the kids leave to live with the other parent meant I spent a lot of time alone as a child), and I’m expecting my fifth baby. My oldest brother and sister each have four, and my other brother and his wife have two and will probably have at least one more. The fact that we’re all choosing to have larger families must mean we have some kind of positive feeling about them and each other.

Christy January 29, 2009, 9:08 AM

I was an only child until my mom remarried when I was 8 and I was part of an instant family of three girls. I wouldn’t trade that for anything - I’m so glad to have sisters in my life, even when we’re not getting along. I don’t have a huge grudge, but I’ve never really forgiven my mom for not having another child. I think there are pros and cons to both sides, but much like going to a movie or out for dinner, it’s a lot more fun to share toys (and even attention) than to do everything on your own. And I agree with Natalie, I still suffer from “only child syndrome” and have a hard time sharing things and hate it when people touch my stuff. And that’s with a single mom who worked full-time. Each family has to make their own decision about how many children they want, but I hope you don’t let your bad relationship with your sister make that decision for you. Most sibling relationships are more positive than that (I mean, if you had a bad relationship with your dad, would you say that people are better off without fathers?)

Marissa January 29, 2009, 9:35 AM

At 23, I still consider myself fairly young to be thinking about having a family. However I do think that your relationships with siblings (or lack thereof) does factor into how you envision your future. I am an only child and must say, I cannot thank my parents enough. To think that children will face a lonely, selfish existence if they don’t experience it with siblings is ridiculous. Oddly enough, those that usually say I will never understand the deep bond between siblings are friends who have the most abusive and dysfunctional relationships with their brothers or sisters. Just having a sibling doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll spend and, more importantly, enjoy your time with them. When I need to vent about a family holiday, I have my mother and father (in fact, we are probably so close because we had so much time together when I was younger). When I’m having troubles with work, a solid group of close friends is always there for me. If I need a bridesmaid, I’ll call my cousin. When I’m alone, I’m rarely ever lonely. Being an only child helped push me to branch out into other groups, showed me at an early age how to socialize with both children and adults, and also taught me how to entertain myself and embrace (not yearn for) peaceful solo time. It is for no one to say how many or how few children a person should have in order to create a nurturing, supportive and well balanced family environment. Right now, for me, one healthy, happy child looks like a perfect fit. And should I have another…well, a double stroller it is.

anony January 29, 2009, 10:19 AM

I was an only child till age 10 when the first of my 2 younger brothers was born. My brothers are just over a year apart in age so they get along, albeit begrudgingly sometimes, but with each other, with me its not quite the same. The age difference and the fact that we were raised entirely differently means that we see things very differently so we will probably never be very close. We didn’t fight too much growing up because well I moved out at 17 so with that age difference there was never a reason to fight but also never a reason for us to be close either. As for my kids they’re teens about 3 years apart and they are pretty darn close. Maybe because they’ve always shared a bedroom or maybe because I won’t tolerate them fighting. I actually tell them “you are not allowed to fight with your brother” When they were younger if they had an argument I would let them know that it was not acceptable for them to act that way and that I would not tolerate such behavior. Then I always made them work out a solution and apologize to each other and hug and say I love you. Also I always made my kids share their stuff (toys, video games, clothes, CDs…) and taught them to respect others things. If one damaged something belonging to the other then they had to earn money to fix or replace the damaged item. Now that they’re older I rarely have to intervene. Don’t get me wrong they are teenagers but most of the time they get along just fine.

for real January 29, 2009, 10:20 AM

This article came at the right time! I only have one child and all my only child friends say that I need to have another so they can have someone to play with. But what about making friends? Sorry, but I am not having one for the sake of “giving” my child a playmate. Oh, and my kid is not spoiled like many would presume, she has to earn everything.

Jen January 29, 2009, 10:39 AM

I’m also an only child. Thank you for this article. I was never any more or any less spoiled than my friends and family members with siblings. I think the whole idea that only children are spoiled is silly.

anony January 29, 2009, 10:45 AM

I agree. The point of having more than one child should not be so that your kid can have a permanent playmate or to avoid the “oh your kid is an only child she/he must be a spoiled brat or she/he must be lonely” comments. It should be because you actually want another child.

N January 29, 2009, 10:57 AM

I think kids get along unless the parents make it a competition between them. The author said they had to lobby for the parents attention. So i think this is true for her family, which is just sick.

Joyce January 29, 2009, 11:22 AM

I so relate to this article. I chose to have an only child because of my relationship with my brother (10 months older than me) and my relationship with my parents because of my brother.
People gave me the same flawed logic. I tell them, my child gets to choose on a daily basis who he wants to play with, or if he wants to play with anyone.

Shannon January 29, 2009, 3:27 PM

I am an only child. And I must say that it was sometimes lonely and sometimes I enjoyed the solitude. I am married now and I have two children with one on the way. They get along great! But I am anxious to see how this third one is going to come into play. I do believe that being an only child aided me in the decision to have two (the third was a shocker). I always admired people who had siblings. But like the author stated, siblings don’t always mean great bond. My husband has a sister and they do not get along at all. They might as well be strangers. They are so different, you wouldn’t even believe that they came out of the same house. That is so striking to me. Also as an adult, being an only child can be tough. My parents are divorced and now my mom depends on my to be her entertainment and friend. It is not that bad, but sometimes she doesn’t get that I am busy or tied up with my family. And I felt that if she had a least one more child, she would call them and relive some pressure off of me. But having children is a deeply personal decision. I say if you want one, then just have one.

Katie January 29, 2009, 4:33 PM

I am an only child. I never felt like I was missing anything until I got older and had my own children. They are four years apart and love each other so much. When my mother was sick with cancer I had noone to help share that burden …then it really hit me that having a sibling would be nice! So as an adult only child I can say I really wish I had a brother or sister.

Anonymous January 29, 2009, 5:12 PM

I have known may only children/adults and I feel that they are socially awkward and more self-centered because they have had all of their parent’s attention focused on them for their whole lives.

susan January 29, 2009, 7:04 PM

I have an only daughter. She kind, thoughtful, and not the least bit SPOILED. Maybe with love, but not material things. I babysat until she went into the 1st. grade. She knew what it was like to share her toys, and her mommy. Back in the day there weren’t many only children, but in my daughters class there are at least 15 kids that were, and i can tell you they were the kindest most respectful kids i knew. She is far from self centered, in fact, one of the kindest, loving, and careing child i know…I’ll take an only child anyday.

rose January 29, 2009, 8:27 PM

i am the 2nd of 8 and my husband is the eldest of 7. I was never overpressured to help around the house neither did i feel i was lacking materially or emotionally from my parents. I adore all my siblings and yes although siblings sometimes fight, theres much more love, happiness and friendship that makes up for it. I currently have a baby and i definitely want to have more.

Anonymous January 30, 2009, 12:33 PM

I pretty much an only child and hated it. I was lonely and ALWAYS wanted my parents to have another but it was hard enought for them to have me so another baby just wasn’t in the cards. While it is a total crap shoot as to whether or not your kids will get along, I still would never want my child to be an “only”. It’s especially hard now that my mom (dad already passed away)is aging and I have nobody to share that weight with. The holidays are hard too because my children will never have the opportunity for cousins and everyone is old. I had the same experience as a child and it really stunk. Luckily, my kids are really close as can be and get along great. It’s awesome.

Stephanie January 30, 2009, 2:53 PM

Finally..i have been waiting for an article like this! I have only one child and hate that everyone tells me i need to have another just because. I have two brothers…who are involved in drugs and alcohol. So basically, i am the black sheep because i am sober..and feel like an only child. I cannot call my brothers for help, advice or even lunch..they are too wrapped up in their problems and addiction. I had to BEG them to go to my college graduation..and one of them did not attend my wedding…and neither have attempted to drive to my town to see my little baby. those of you who push and push on people that have one child..please keep your opinions to yourself. I am so tired of the whiney statement—“Ooohhh you cant do that to your HAVE to have another one..he will be so lonely.” Hey i have two brothers..and feel pretty lonely sometimes but..i get through it. And when my parents are ill..i will be like an only child taking care of them..because my brothers are incapable with their addictions. We should just be greatful for having a child..and not focus on making a little companion for them. If the momlogic people are listening..can you please have more articles on being or having an only-child?

Randi January 30, 2009, 10:58 PM

I am the parent of an only child as well. My daughter is slightly spoiled wih attention, but not too bad. I have actually had someone tell me it’s selfish to have one child. Call me selfish then. What is the right number? Everyone should do what works for them. I can handle one. We love our life. I know what I can handle. She was a great baby, and I don’t think I would get that lucky again. Plus we are past diapers and strollers, and I just can’t see going back.

As far as being self centered. Everyone should be somewhat self centered. We are all the center of our own worlds. We see the world from our perspective, what other perspective do we have?

Socially awkward? I think people see what they want to see. I know plenty of well adjusted adults who were only children.

It bothers me that there is such an insulting tone use towards parents who choose to have one child.

I think a lot more thought should be given to what people can handle. I don’t need to keep up with the Jones’s. I am not having two children because it’s the new one.

Would it be insulting if I walked up to a mother struggling through a door with a double stroller and said “I would never have two children!”

Who cares what I would do? It’s your life.

That said, I don’t think I should have to pay the same health insurance rates as a family with five children. I would really like this to be considered when this country looks at reforming health care.

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