The Experience of Being an Only Child


Lucy Lu

A photo of younger me (an only child) with my parents.

Lucy Lu, Photojournalist

Being an only child is a unique experience that I wouldn’t give up for the world. However, it brings with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. The media likes to present the stereotypes that all only children as spoiled bratty entitled kids as those traits come along with the family dynamic of not having siblings. So, let’s talk about the actual experience of being an only child coming from a real-life only child.

It’s also amazing cause you don’t have to worry about siblings getting you in trouble and stealing attention

— Sierra Paz (9)

There are many perks of being an only child including undivided attention. With no siblings competing for their time and affection, you often have the opportunity to spend more time and build a closer relationship with your parents. This can lead to a stronger sense of security and support. Added by Sierra Paz (9), “It’s also amazing cause you don’t have to worry about siblings getting you in trouble and stealing attention.”

In addition, being an only child often encourages independence. Not having siblings to rely on for playtime or assistance teaches you to entertain yourself and solve problems on your own. And with no siblings for comparisons or competition, only children can develop their own sense of self-identity. More free to explore their interests and talents without feeling overshadowed by a sibling.

Last but not least, I believe being an only child gives you more opportunities and resources. As the sole and only focus of your parents’ resources, you have greater access to opportunities such as education and extracurricular activities. Financially, parents will have more flexibility in providing for a single child compared to having two or three kids, this can lead to a wider range of experiences.

Though being an only child is great, there are also some negatives. Personally, for me, the absence of a built-in playmate and companion was really annoying especially when I was younger. Not having siblings means you don’t have someone close in age to you that’s always there available for you to hang out with. At times this caused me to feel lonely and need to be more social with making friends.

Additionally, being the sole focus of parental attention isn’t always so great. As an only child, you might feel added pressure to succeed in all aspects, academically and socially. The weight of parental expectations can sometimes be overwhelming causing stress from the pressure to achieve.

Being an only child has its share of advantages and disadvantages. The experience is unique for each individual child. While the undivided attention and opportunities can bring immense joy, the absence of sibling bonds and added responsibilities can present its own challenges. Ultimately, I believe the experience of being an only child has shaped me as an individual in many unique ways.