- This topic has 7 replies, 5 voices, and was last updated 7 years, 9 months ago by Anonymous.
December 8, 2015 at 6:32 am #89222
I was just wondering if anyone else out there has been brought up as an only child and has struggled. (I am by no means saying that having siblings does not come with its problems).
I am curious to know whether anyone else has felt an enormous amount of pressure growing up? The thing is, I feel guilty because my parents are amazing human beings who have always loved and encouraged me and never told me ‘I must succeed’, yet I have felt the overwhelming pressure to be everything to them and to be perfect. This coupled with 15 years of Christianity (I have mentioned that in other posts) has led to me not really knowing how to feel good about myself or love myself, but then once again I feel guilty because I never had an abusive or neglectful childhood.
I was just wondering if anyone has only child experiences to share that have left them with similar ‘issues’ or feelings?
Thanks all xDecember 8, 2015 at 7:57 am #89230JenniferParticipant
As I read your post, I kept nodding my head. I’m a 33-year-old only child (yay, welcome to the club!)…and I still feel that my parents are pulling my strings sometimes. It’s gotten much better since I moved out.
I used to think that I was not abused or neglected….but if you are feeling the pressure, then there is something deep down that your parents did pass to you…maybe it just takes time to figure it out.
Growing up, my parents never said “I must succeed” but then my mom would compare my high school marks against my cousin who was in the same grade. Although she never said “You must earn top marks”, the fact that she was comparing and commenting against my cousin, whether better or worse inadvertently gave me pressure.
My mom never said I needed to be perfect, but I felt she was controlling and she had low self-esteem. She always says she is not pretty enough even in a beautiful evening dress, so I grew up thinking I was also not pretty enough. She would panic if we had relatives visit and everything in the house (e.g. how to stack dishes) had to be done a certain way. The way that she panicked subconsciously taught me that if I was not “perfect”, then I would be banished from the house because it had to be presented a certain way to the outside world.
Further to that, there are no siblings to bounce any ideas off…so it sometimes feels like we are the only one taking all the responsibilities of our parents. I’d like to always remind myself once awhile “who’s life am I living? It is my own or my parents?” Sometimes, I forget that my parents are only human beings too….they can make their own decisions about things…but it doesn’t mean that I have to follow anymore because I am an adult now.
I read your other posts on Christianity. I know that feeling of when you “lost” a group to belong because your belief system no longer fits theirs. That is ok. Remember to love yourself. We all are equal beings in this world. May I suggest perhaps doing other activities that is non-religion based and perhaps you may find some new & interesting people e.g. Any hobby or interest group, exercise/outdoor/sport group, etc. I’ve been lazy with that myself too. I think I’ll maybe join a local yoga class again.
Thanks for sharing & take care!
JenniferDecember 8, 2015 at 8:58 am #89238AnonymousGuest
You wrote above: ” I have felt the overwhelming pressure to be everything to them and to be perfect.” as an only child. Can you elaborate on that pressure? Look as way back as you can, look for what prompted, what caused that pressure? I think much help may be in this very examining.
anitaDecember 8, 2015 at 6:43 pm #89275Adam PParticipant
Hey what’s up Mermaid. Yeah it can have its moments both good and bad. I enjoy that I am the only one because well I just like that. But of course the comparison game comes into play, which I do not like, because I’m living MY own life and trying to overcome MY own obstacles/setbacks, etc. Excuse me if this post was very possessive lol.
Thank you and take care.December 8, 2015 at 10:05 pm #89292jockParticipant
I have 6 brothers myself but my partner is an only child. She feels the pressure as her parents age and need looking after and of course organising the inevitable funerals one day.
One advantage I see in favour of only child family is that a large family tends to have complex politics. Allies versus nothing in common siblings take sides. Oh and gossip can be nauseating. I think my older brothers resented the fact they had more responsibility when we were growing up and the younger ones had little or none. (I was one of the younger ones)
I think you only child people learn to grow-up/mature quicker than the rest of us. You forge your identity quite soon I imagine.December 9, 2015 at 4:19 pm #89321
This is really interesting everyone, thanks for sharing. It would be so interesting to have a day in the life of someone with siblings or without, don’t you think?
A psychologist once said to be that the psychological purpose of siblings is to ‘toughen you up’ which I suppose might explain in my case why I am so sensitive and try to be responsible for everyone (including my parents’ happiness). I have such guilt for even saying I struggle with being an only child because obviously I had all the love and care and limelight I needed, but I think that in itself is a problem because you can never escape the attention.
It’s just interesting how different people turn out. I recently met a guy who is an only child and he loved it, was totally confident and grounded.December 9, 2015 at 4:24 pm #89322
P.s. Jennifer – relate on so many levels! My Mum is highly anxious and has always worried what others think of her and whenever we have people round it’s always so stressful as if 50 were coming round when there were only 5! She has also always strived to please others and I think I have absorbed that too, I suppose it’s not always what we say verbally is it that gets absorbed by children…December 9, 2015 at 7:07 pm #89350AnonymousGuest
Having siblings does not toughen one up any more than not having siblings toughen the only child. It all depends: a child needs a strong parent, one the child can depend on, rely on, whose behavior the child can predict… a parent strong enough, CALM enough to give the child the strength of being in the hands of someone capable, reliable, strong, someone who can take care of themselves and of the child.
Your mother being “highly anxious” was a big problem for you. You couldn’t feel SAFE with a highly anxious mother, no wonder you felt so responsible for her happiness- you sensed she was not capable of making herself happy, so you took on the job. No wonder you “felt the overwhelming pressure to be everything to them and to be perfect.”
You took on the job because she was highly anxious, not because you were the only child and that is what only children do. The guy you met who is an only child, totally confident and grounded… well, it is no accident. Maybe he had a confident, calm, grounded parent…
I can relate to having a highly anxious parent, and I am so sorry to the high price it exacted from you so far.