First, it seems I’m terrible at keeping up with my blog’s anniversaries. After May 22nd, my blog turned five years old. Maybe I should start making a yearly scheduled post for that.
Now, on to the topic at hand.
A stereotype of only children is they are spoiled because of their lack of siblings. Some people think it’s selfish not to give a child a sibling, and some only children do grow up to say they wish they had siblings.
I’ll be honest. Hearing these things makes me cringe, especially the former. Why? Because they’re idealizing having a sibling.
I don’t think people who consider it awful for a child to have no siblings, or who wish they themselves did, realize having a sibling is no guarantee of not being selfish or never being lonely. I don’t believe they realize that sibling could very well be someone they don’t care to have in their life. Having a sibling does not automatically mean you have a built-in playmate/best friend for life.
My mother had two children while my father had one, so I somewhat got to experience being an only child while growing up when I visited him. I much preferred the only child life. Just about every positive reason stated for having siblings never existed for me.
Taught me how to share? My sister and I only shared if forced, and I hogged my things because she continually lost or broke them. My mother forced me to loan her my baby blanket for the kindergarten (I was 8). At the end of the year, she never retrieved it, so it was thrown out. My 8-year-old self was furious because that blanket was one of my favorite possessions. But the reason I argued (and lost) against her borrowing it in the first place is I knew she’d lose it. As an adult, I still hoard things, and part of the reason I tend to buy excessively is that I can finally live without worrying where my stuff will disappear off to.
Playmates and best friends? Again, not unless forced. Otherwise, we either played alone or played with our school friends. My sister and I fought constantly, and the only time we got along on our own was to (figuratively) beat somebody else down, which usually meant drive the adults crazy. I remember people used to say we’d grow up to be best friends. At the ages of 23 (me) and nearly 20, that ship has sailed. Our relationship as sisters borders on dead. My best friend and the person I call my sister are the same person, but she’s not genetically related.
Never being lonely? I don’t even want to talk about this. All I have to say is loneliness due of no people is no better or worse than loneliness because of people.
Teaches eldest siblings to be responsible? First off, I want to hang the person who came up with the notion that oldest siblings should be live-in babysitters. If someone asked me why I want nothing to do with parenthood, the answer of “being forced to babysit my sister” would be in the top three. “Babysit” was essentially the short way of saying “everything your sister does is your fault, no matter where I am in the house”. My sister never got in trouble unless I also did. This didn’t stop until I moved out of the house, which means even at age 13, my sister was deemed “too young to know better” and I was “supposed to set a good example because I was the oldest”. Why was I supposed to enjoy this again? Ironically, babysitting other people’s children as an adult wasn’t an issue for me. Perhaps it being voluntary has to do with it?
I know everyone is entitled to their feelings, but I wish people would stop thinking “siblings = automatic BFFs” because it truly does not. Siblings are essentially hit or miss. If you’re fortunate, the stereotypes are true and you luck out. If you’re not, you get a situation like mine, where your sibling only talks to you to start an argument at four o’clock in the morning.
There have been brief periods of time where we do get along, but they’re sporadic at best. I’ve said before if I wanted to be a parent, I’d be “one and done” because I’d have zero desire to put up with what I went through with my sister. If my hypothetical kid was really so lonely, I’d let them adopt a pet. Really, I did have a cat for a few years while growing up. Much better company.