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Family Life: Being an Only Child

Effects of Growing up as an Only Child

Traumatic events. Disabilities. Money. Location. Experiences. There are thousands of factors that contribute to the growth and development of a child. The most effective of these? Family life. The factors within one’s family life truly determine how a person will become in the future, including things like their personality and interactions. Specifically, the factor of being an only child has a prominent effect on a developing child. This aspect of life has been studied and researched throughout time in order to discover exactly how and why these children become how they become.

There is no better way to study the character and social habits of an only child than by reviewing first-hand experiences. A certain author grew up being an only child, and now realizes the effects this had on his future development. His outlook on life, his occupation of being a writer and his emotions can be deeply contributed to the way he grew up. He explains how the loneliness of his childhood affected his social interactions as an adult, "The life I have ended up leading has effectively recreated those afternoons when I had no one to play with and nothing to do and so had to come up with something to amuse myself. As a kid this meant drawing or making something; as an adult it means writing things like this. I'm not only used to having, I need to have hours and hours of uninterrupted free time if I'm ever going to get anything done." He recognizes that his secluded occupation as a writer in his adult life is a direct result of the bored afternoons from his childhood. This desire and need to be secluded for certain periods of time in his adult life is not only an aspect of his character but is also a contributing factor in his social habits. The preference of seclusion, whether it is during his writing time or simply for leisure, is a direct result of growing up as an only child.

The effects of being an only child are so abundant, in fact, that many studies have been done in regards to it. According to a study conducted by Guo-Yuan Sui explaining only children with parental illness in the family, the sole factor of being an only child affects many aspects of child development. The background studies for the case gives abundant information specifically and solely regarding only child statistics and studies. Evidence for an only child's needs, personality, and interactions being affected is stated when the article gives a comparison: "Compared to the children with siblings, the children without siblings obtain more economic and interpersonal resources (such as attention, time, and energy), which may be conductive to their well-being."Clearly, an only child will not only want but also need extra attention, time and energy. The way they grew up makes it a sort of requirement for them to need these extra things, demonstrating that being an only child has affected their character and their interactions. Some might even go so far as to say that as an only child develops, more attention and concern must be put into raising the child because of the great impact that outside factors have on them. The world around an only child can be used for growing and learning. Many of these children are often culture shocked when introduced to the fast moving, unconcerned world in which they are not the center of attention. However, their experience of attention and personal relationships give them the ability to utilize the world around them, resulting in job perseverance along with special abilities to work closely among individuals. Each factor of attention, time and energy give an exclusive experiment and possible benefit, if used correctly, to the only child’s character and interactions.

The crucial time of development as a child is impacted by the circumstances of not having siblings and evidently affects the character of the child. Further studies through textbooks and research have been conducted by Carl E. Pickhardt, who is surprisingly a middle child and father of four. In his book, titled The Future of Your Only Child: How to Guide Your Child to a Happy and Successful Life, he explains the effects of being an only child on all aspects of life and interactions, specifically regarding adults who grew up as only children. It covers a broad range of topics from the way only children deal with responsibilities to certain friendships these people have. The only child tends to posses more intimate friendships and relationships as a direct result of their lack of group experiences. However, compared to a child with siblings, only children are much more accustomed to interactions with adults or positions above them. This is because of the close relationship these children have with their parents. Additionally, this close relationship between the parents and the child adds pressure to succeed on the child, emphasizing the high expectations parents often have for their children (Pickhardt 1-20). This explains the observation that only children are often highly-motivated and handle responsibilities well. Along with these effects, the book defines only children as tending “to be more like older children in that they enjoy being the center of attention. Because they spend more time in the company of adults, rather than siblings, they tend to mature sooner and to adopt adult like behaviors earlier in life.” In this development, it is clear that children who do not have siblings are drawn to desire attention in social situations and often obtain mature characteristics. These results can also be applied to the seeking of intimate and personal friendships that only children often obtain throughout life. A great sense of responsibility and determination are additional effects derived from The Future of Your Only Child: How to Guide Your Child to a Happy and Successful Life.

The personal results of growing up as an only child are endless. I believe you are (at least somewhat) a product of your environment. With that being said, you have the power to change that or allow yourself to be conformed to it. I grew up as an only child and here I am... sitting silent and alone, perfectly happy, writing. 

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