One Is the Loneliest Number

Molly Bond

Social wrecks. Bossy monsters. Temperamental brats. These are the common stereotypes of only children. Because only children have nobody their own age at constant availability, it is probable that they will grow up to be at a different place developmentally than kids who grew up with siblings.

First of all, when an only child first enters kindergarten, it will most likely come as a shock that there are other kids out there that want to play with the big yellow Tonka truck; having never experienced this situation before, an ugly temper tantrum will very well be in order.

Other than lacking the social skills required to function in a classroom, only children will most likely have more trouble saying goodbye to their parents when they are dropped off for the day.

Seeing as there were no other children upon which to dote, a tight bond between the parents and the singular child will have been formed. This, according to Dr. Carl Pickhardt of Psycology Today, will result in the typical mama’s boy or girl.

But how will the child feel about this bond, come adolescence?

In Nickelodeon’s iCarly, the character Freddie Benson is constantly mocked for his relationship with his mother, to whom he is the only child. He also must constantly lie to his helicopter-like mother in order to do things such as hold a hammer or wear open-toed shoes. While this is a bit of an exaggeration, it is based upon the tendencies of of real helicopter parents.

Also, as the child reaches adolescence, the pressure sets in. Being the only child of two parents, the expectancy is that the child will be significantly above average when it comes to school, sports, and other activities. Dr. Pickhardt mentioned in an article “no one who has an only child is content to have an average child.”

This can go either way. Seeing as the child is the sole beneficiary of the parents, it is expected that the child will turn out to be emotionally stable when it comes to recalling their childhood. If the parents fail in raising a decent child, they will most likely feel as if they failed in life, seeing as that child’s success and happiness was their sole responsibility in the task of raising children.

In contrast, Dr. Susan Newman, Ph.D., also of Psychology Today, takes a completely different view on being an only child. She feels that “it is easy to forget that a person can feel lonely surrounded by a large family.” It is her opinion that it is better to have all the attention on one child, rather than have multiple children, with the love and attention dispersed throughout. She feels that “it is easy to feel lost among so many other children.”

But how do the actual “singleton” children feel about their situations?

Sophomore Lauren Altobelli is the only child in her family and says “I like being an only child for the most part, but sometimes I wish I had an older brother or something.”

In response to being asked if she felt there was any extra pressure when it comes to succeeding in her house, Altobelli said “I definitely feel like there is a lot of pressure on me from my parents –they have high standards. But I suppose that is just expected because parents always want their kids to succeed, so since I’m their only one there is extra pressure.”

“I personally think that I am spoiled,” Altobelli added. “My parents do pressure me, but I feel they do reward me with usually whatever I want. I mean, I don’t mean everything, but my dad especially is a pushover, and I end up getting my way, which sounds snotty, but I think it’s the truth.”

While it appears as though Lauren enjoys her life as an only child, opinions differ according to one’s experiences in life.  Senior Amy Stevens is the oldest child in her family, with three younger brothers.

“It’s a lot more responsibility than you would think,” says Stevens. “With giving them rides and helping with homework, it can be a bit of a burden.”

When asked if she would rather be an only child, Stevens said “Oh no. Although my brothers can be a lot to handle, being an only child just seems so…lonely.”

Based on the situations of these girls, it is apparent that, in most situations, people are partial to what they know. If you grew up alone, with your parents admiring your every move, or if you grew up with six siblings, with your parents constantly aflutter, your opinion depends on how you feel when you remember your childhood.