Getting More And More Difficult

I'm 19 years old, and I am an only child. My parents are happily married and have been together for 21 years.

When I was younger, I always remember asking for another sibling. I always wanted a little sister to play house with me, or a brother to play in the sandox with. Looking back, the reason that my parents could not have another child was financial reasons, since we have always been a working-class family with just enough money to get by.

Back when I was a kid, being an only wasn't THAT bad. I did get to spend a lot of time with my grandma and mother, which is why we are so close to this day. It's true, I didn't have to share my toys very often, so that might be a plus. But I often found that I was very lonely. It was very boring playing alone all of the time (there weren't many kids in my neighborhood) and I would love to go to friends houses and play with all of their siblings and see how their larger families acted.

Transitioning to the teenage years was hard. My parents expected a lot from me so it became a bit overbearing. I started to become more shy but still had a great group of friends. The most difficult thing in middle school and high school was meeting people and hearing their comments when I said I was an only child. They would always give me a weird face and say, "oh, you must be so spoiled!" or "wow, you're so lucky... you can always take my sibling!" I HATED those comments. Even when I came to college, those types of comments bothered me. All of my close college friends were from large families (3+ kids), so whenever they complained about a silbing, I would tell them that they were lucky. To which they all responded: "You wouldn't know. You're an only child." IT'S NOT LIKE I CHOSE THAT. That one got to me the most.

And now I find myself having intense anxiety about being alone in the future once my parents pass away. I have only ever been close to my parents and my grandma, so once they are gone I have no idea how I will act or what I will do. My family has a history of early heart disease, and my father and grandma are already beginning to show their age. There are some nights where all of a sudden the anxiety washes over me and I can't stop thinking about it for hours. I don't know what I would do without them.

I'd love to hear from other onlies who can relate in any way to what I'm saying. Do you have any advice for dealing with these anxieties? Thank you so much.
alyssalo alyssalo
5 Responses Sep 15, 2012

I have that fear also, I'm afraid I will end up old and lonely. I have been dating a guy for 12 years. But we are both still immature in our own ways. I have tried to talk to him about this fear and he tries to sympathize but he just don't "get it". He has 4 brothers! Through my job I found someone who was an "only" and I dug up one of my friends from high school that I remembered was an "only". And just through those 2 people I have found tremendous support and advice! And better yet, they "get it". I read an article the other day about "onlies" and losing their parents....the article states that losing a parent is never easy, but there are some advantages (depending on how you look at it). 1) you will be the one making all final decisions. 2) You won't have to argue over property or wills or legal things with anyone else. In some way, that article helped me. I have seen friends with siblings fight over the dumbest stuff. Even though you may be dealing with these anxieties yourself, if you find other "onlies". They will be your family in your time of need.

I'm an only as well and have posted a few things up in the past; feel free to read & comment :)
I too understand where you're coming from with the anxiety about the future. I'm only in my mid-20s but I hate that when my husband & I eventually have children; they won't have close relatives on my side of the family. I hate that when the older relatives pass away, I'll be the only one left (i'm the youngest of many grandchildren and there's a huge age gap between me and the rest of my first cousins) and it saddens me so much. I have a distant cousin who is my age who i am very close to but i don't think he understands just how much his friendship means to me as he has siblings; it's just not the same.

I am an only child as well. I grew up in a rural south west Minnesota farming community. I believe being an only had advantages for me, but there were short falls as well. My Parents were married in December of 1938 and I was born in June of 1949. (i'm 63 as of this writing) It took them 10 and one half years of marriage to have me. (you would think they were afraid of sex) My parents were very laid back, My father was a farmer and my mother taught school, but I never had her for any class. In high school I had 8 or 9 real close friends, a couple of whom were girls (I am a male) After school and on weekends I helped my dad on the farm. From my High School graduation(1967) until I left for the U.S. Navy, in November 1968 I helped dad run the farm. I spent 21 years in the Navy. I retired from the service, worked a civilian job, an retired from working one year ago. I am married to really fantastic woman for 31 years, we have 2 adult children and own our own little piece of southern California real estate.
All my life I did not let being an only child bother me. MY wife and her sibblings have been incredibelly supportive and i love all of them dearly for that.

I am an only child as well... and like you, the idea of being an only child seems to bother me more and more as I get older. I am 26 years old and don't have any children. I am very close to my family as well. At the moment my uncle (who was basically like a father to me) is dying of brain cancer. I am so close to my parents and a particular set of aunt and uncle and an aunt on my father's side. They are my world and sometimes its hard to think about not having them around. I basically am very scared of ending up alone. I am afraid if I never have children and I outlive my family, I will end up alone, with no one to really care about me. It is a bad feeling. As far as advice, I can only say that my Catholic faith helps me to deal with life's ups and downs. Sometimes I am very depressed and lonley, however I try and distract myself by doing things I enjoy with friends. Sometimes I feel like Im the only, only child in the world. Its nice to hear from someone else who knows the feeling that only an only child would feel (sounds weird, only only lol). Hope this helps.

You still have your friends! Spend more time with them, or you can go travel to a new place to you. You see, Chinese couples are only allowed to have one child, so you're never alone!