This only life: how being an only child prepared me for adulthood

For some reason only children get a bad rap. We are perceived as selfish, entitled, and spoiled. From the time we are young we all face the stereotypical judgments from others based on the simple fact that our parents only had one of us. We never understood the relationship between siblings. And because of all the stereotypes, people with siblings would envy our sibling-less lives. Truthfully, just because our parents decided one kid was plenty for them to handle, doesn’t mean we are some rare unicorn species of people. I am the only child that always loved not having to share my room with another person. I never begged my parents to have another kid. I enjoyed babysitting my little cousins and then being able to leave and go to my own room, haveing my own space.

And now, as an adult, I am even more thrilled that I grew up as an only child. Not only did it make me who I am today, but being an only child prepared me for adulthood.

1. We are extremely independent.

As only children know all too well, we are extremely comfortable being alone. This comes in handy as an adult. We don’t rely on others to feel safe and secure. I remember when I moved away to college, I noticed that most people were terrified of doing anything alone. They needed someone to go to the dining hall with, walk to class with, and even study with. But for me, it was the opposite. It was my first time living in a room with someone else, so I’d take any chance I could to be alone.

Only children grow up to never have a problem doing things alone. Whether it be going to a cafe, the movies, shopping, we just do what we want when we want. We don’t have to ask anyone to do things with us. My parents could go on a month long vacation out of the country together and I’d be perfectly content in my house all by myself. It’s a great defining characteristic to go through life never having to depend on anyone to do things that you want to do.

2. We are able to communicate with adults.

All those holiday dinners sitting around the “adult” table comes in handy when you transition into adulthood. While being bored, begging your parents to leave, only children witnessed how adults talk. While we may have picked up dirty jokes quickly, we also learned how to listen when someone is speaking. We witnessed passionate conversations about a variety of topics. From politics to careers, our minds were expanded simply by being in a room filled with adults.

Being around my crazy family and my parents’ even crazier friends, I learned how to speak to all my professors, future employers, and just random people on the street without being intimidated or nervous.

3. Perfection is our middle name.

Truth is, being an only child can be a lot of pressure. We are the only fruits of our parents’ labor. Notoriously known for bragging about their kids, moms in particular expect their kids to achieve great success so they can share that success with anyone who will listen.

Only children have to pave their own way. We don’t have any siblings to blame for our mistakes. We always have to learn the hard way, on our own. Some people think that only children simply coast through life because they don’t have a sibling to compare to. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Innately, only children have a deep desire to please their parents. As the only priority in my parents’ lives, I felt pressure to always get good grades and be the best at everything I tried. This characteristic definitely has its pros and cons. Constantly putting pressure on yourself to be the best at everything is exhausting, but the moment you find that one thing that speaks to you, that makes you work harder and harder everyday, that’s when you’ve found your souls calling. And guess what? That perseverance came from being an only child.

4. Our parents are our bffs.

Inevitably, being an only child will make you close to your parents. As a kid you spend most of your time with one or the other or both. Most likely, you had a parent who was the disciplinarian and the other was the fun one. I certainly did. And having this balance in my life allowed me to grow to appreciate my parents individually for who they are. My mom puts up a strong front, but really is a softy on the inside. My dad, is a softy on the outside and the inside, he lives to make his daughter happy.

Its no wonder I grew up to love, respect and treat my parents like my best friends. Whenever something happens in my life, good, bad, ugly, I immediately contact either my mom or dad, depending on the situation. If I need someone to listen to me vent, it’s a toss up. But when it comes to a hilarious meme, my mom is the first to see it.

We all grow up in different households, with different socioeconomic levels and a variety of other outside factors. The one thing all only children can connect with is how incredibly fortunate we all are that we grew up without siblings. Being an adult is hard. Just take a look at all the pieces written about the difficulty of adulting. So having a leg up on adulting by being an only child is a huge advantage in managing all the hardships that come with adulthood.

Now I’d love to hear from all of you. What have you learned as a result of being an only child? Please share any and all comments below! As always, I love hearing your feedback. Let’s continue this conversation in the comments below!

This post was edited and published by Elite Daily.



A 20-something girl on a journey to find herself with hopes of helping others feel their feelings.