I’m an Only Child. So What?
I do not have any brothers or sisters. Yes, I am an only child. So what?
It is okay with me that I don’t have brothers or sisters, so why is it often not okay with the rest of the world? Why do people often think they know everything there is to know about me simply because I do not have siblings? I don’t profess to know anything about anyone else because they are the oldest child, middle child, or youngest child of their family. Why should anyone profess to know anything about me based on one thing?
Only children get a bad rap. We’re supposedly coddled, tantrum-prone, attention-hogging, and always have to have our own way. Hearing someone is an only child often conjures up images of a child growing up showered in attention and being constantly praised, being told they can do no wrong. Yes, sometimes this is true. But often it is not. It’s not okay to stereotype someone because of their race or gender, so why is it okay to assume that all only children are the same?
I am an only child because my parents got divorced before they had a second child. Not knowing anything about me or my family history, you would likely assume that I had a particular type of childhood. A childhood spent going back and forth between two parents who both wanted to be loved more than the other parent. A childhood spent with my parents competing to be most popular parent, each trying to outbuy each other for the reward of my love. While I have no doubt that this circumstance happens quite often, this was not my story.
My parents were high school sweethearts. After high school, my mother went to college and my father went into the workforce. They married young, then had a child. Neither of them had the opportunity to be young and single. This was the late 1960s and early 1970s, so people settled down at a younger age. It was common to marry your high school sweetheart.
My parents divorced in 1980. Socially accepted rules of age, marital status, and what was appropriate had changed drastically by then. My parents were in their early 30s and free for the first time. Both of them quickly took to their new lives and got involved in the bar and dating scene. From what I recall, they reveled in it. They began to experience the bar scene that many single people today experience in their early 20s.
The bar scene distracted my parents from the fact that they were parents. This often left me to fend for myself. I taught myself the art of self-entertainment. I watched copious amounts of television, read piles of books, and made forts out of couch cushions. I grew up relying on myself for most things instead of being reliant on my parents. It was the only life I knew, so I never longed for a brother or sister.