First Person: The life of an only child


Cole Jaquith


I hear the same question every time someone finds out that I’m an only child.

“What is it like?”

My response is always the same, I tell them that I don’t know anything different.

It’s hard to compare two things when you don’t truly know what one of those things is like. I’ve been to the houses of numerous friends who have siblings, I’ve seen siblings at sporting events, and I’ve even gone on vacation with friends who have siblings, but it’s still very different.

People are generally on their better behavior when they have guests and your opinion of certain people may change after you’ve been living with them for a large portion of time.

Both of my parents had four siblings, four brothers for my dad and four sisters for my mom. I’ve heard plenty of stories about broken bones, stolen belongings, shared fast food meals, hand-me-down clothes, and cramped car rides.

I’m not saying that my parents had bad childhoods, but I think they wanted something different for both themselves and me. I think they wanted to shy away from that hectic lifestyle and settle down into a calmer one.

Ever since I can remember I’ve gotten pretty much everything that I’ve wanted. We used to have three acres of land, so my parents bought me a four wheeler. I wanted a mini ramp in the basement for skateboarding, so my dad built one. If I wanted a new pair of shoes, my mom would always take me shopping.

All of the attention is focused on me. There are no other siblings to take to sporting events, so my parents rarely miss a game and I can always stretch out and sleep during long car rides because there’s plenty of room.

I’ve never had a sibling to be compared to and I’ve never been tattled on or falsely accused of something. I’ve never had to wear hand-me-down clothes and I’ve never had my clothes stolen either. I’ve never had to share a bedroom and I’ve never gotten in a fight at home.

I was always around people who were older than me while growing up so interacting with adults comes very easy to me. I think it interacting with adults so much helped me to think more like them and people would often comment on how mature I was for my age.

Being an only child also helped me to become more independent at a young age. I’ve always been somewhat introverted, so having plenty of time to myself suited me. I had to find ways to occupy myself so I would practice sports, which helped me get ahead of other kids, and I would read a lot, which helped me in school.

With all of this being said, there is also a negative side to being an only child.

Getting everything that you want isn’t always a good thing. I am often impatient and I get frustrated when things don’t happen right away.

Having all of the attention focused on me meant that my parents always had high expectations, and if I didn’t meet those expectations I was always very disappointed in myself, even more than my parents would be. Sometimes the attention is too much. I get tired of answering questions all the time and having my parents involved in everything gets old sometimes.

I’m glad that I never had to wear old clothes, get my clothes taken, or share a dirty bedroom, but this has made me horrible at sharing. When people come to my house I have a hard time letting them take food or lending them clothes and it really bothers me if they make a mess, which is something that will really catch up to me when I go to college.

Knowing how to interact with adults is something that has really helped me when talking to teachers, coaches, parents, and admissions officers at colleges, but it also made it difficult to interact with other kids. I often felt that some of the things that other kids did was ridiculous. Looking back, I realize that a lot of those ridiculous things are what make childhood fun.

Being independent had a downside as well. Growing up I often felt lonely, even though I could practice and read by myself, it still wasn’t the same as the company of another child. Playing with toys isn’t nearly as fun when you’re doing it by yourself.

All in all, I had a very good childhood. I’m not bitter with my parents for not having another kid, I think being an only child suited me well. It has prepared me well for an adult life, and even though I acted mature, I still had plenty of fun growing up.

I can’t recommend having an only child to parents and I can’t tell them to have multiple children either. Every family is different and every child is different. It’s hard to tell if I would have turned out differently if I had siblings, but I don’t think I would’ve wanted to turn out any other way, and I will be forever grateful to my parents for the way that they raised me.

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