Despite the fact that more and more parents are choosing to have smaller families, the stigma towards only children is still pretty strong. We’re seen as spoiled and aloof, like we missed out on some big part of life. While there can be some truth to those stereotypes (I had almost every Barbie on the market), being an only child means so much more than a few extra presents under the Christmas tree. Being an only child in your twenties comes with a whole host of pros and cons, as well. Fellow onlies, can you relate to any of these?
CON: So. Much. Responsibility.
I hate to start on a downer note, but I’ve come to realize that being an only child comes with so much responsibility, especially as your parents get older. There may come a time when my parents will need more help taking care of themselves, and I’ll be called upon to support them. I’m happy to do it – they brought me into this world, after all – but it would be much easier knowing I have a few people to back me up.
When you’re an only child, you don’t have siblings to defer to for decisions. There’s no cool older sister who can drive you to school in the mornings. You spend a lot of time learning how to entertain yourself. This lack of back up taught me how to problem solve and made me much more comfortable doing things on my own. I probably wouldn’t have a driver’s license otherwise.
CON: We’re not the best roommates.
We only children are pretty used to having our own space. Generally speaking, we didn’t have to share a room with siblings and spent a fair amount of time alone. Going from this living situation to sharing a tiny dorm room with one (or more) strangers in college can be a pretty rough transition. Personally, I tolerated all my roommates but wasn’t great at sharing space. I didn’t like people touching my stuff and I continually forgot when it was my turn to buy toilet paper. It’s truly for the best that I now live alone.
PRO: We’re pretty great friends.
Since our immediate families are so small, we only children tend to see our friends as the siblings we never had. We work hard to build our little family of friends and can be fiercely loyal. Besides, who else will we turn to when our parents are being insufferable?
CON: Helicopter Parents
Parents of only children have a tendency to be kind of overbearing, and understandably so. When you only have one kid, you only have one chance to get this whole parenting thing right. Still, it was always hard to convince my parents that one C on one algebra quiz wasn’t a mortal sin. These days, I could do with maybe one call a day from my mother instead of 3.
PRO: We’re hella confident.
All that love and attention from our parents helped us learn how to love and pay attention to ourselves. Since we spend so much time on our own, we have a better sense of who we are, which is crucial when you’re in your twenties. After 20+ years of our parents telling us we’re special, we eventually start to believe it.
CON: We don’t know how to relate to kids.
Growing up, we spent a lot of time hanging out with adults. As such, we weren’t always the most popular kids on the playground. I spent half my youth trying to get other kids to care about the Oscars and That One Article I Skimmed in TIME Magazine. Now that people my age are having kids, I’m not entirely sure how to communicate with these little aliens. What do I talk to them about? Politics?
PRO: Our peers have finally caught up to us.
Since we grew up spending so much time with adults, we’re pretty mature (or at least we think so). This may have been frustrating when we were growing up, but now our bodies have actually caught up with our brains. Plus, we’re finally on the same page as our peers. We can at last be the cool adults we always thought we were. Okay, cool is relative.