Category Archives: Social skills only children

Only Child on going it solo

Growing up an only child had its peculiarities – some good, some bad. On the bad side, there is the obvious – no siblings to confide in, to help you get through your life especially if like me, you were bullied. Of course, siblings fight and tease each other, but for the most part I would suppose that is normal. There are always exceptions.

Throw in elderly parents – where one (Mom) pushes being pro-active where the Bully is concerned, and the other (Dad) is over-protective and you can be left going from one extreme to the other in dealing with what gets shoved at you in life.

Some only children withdraw into themselves and don’t have any close friends.

Following this going to opposites mentioned above, I did have close friends (besides the Bully) but I also kept my own counsel on many things. And I found I was confiding a lot in my mother – not everything, of course. She didn’t need a blow-by-blow account of my dates as a teenager, although she did almost embarrass me once, when a fellow was walking me home from a teen dance at the church. That was our agreement. I could go to these Sunday evening dances but Mom would meet me halfway walking home. In my memoir I write:

After putting on boots, coats, and hats (well, I did the latter), we amble up Donlands, past the bungalows. While we talk – I have no idea about what, probably about where I live as he thinks he’s taking me there – I dart looks in front. No Mom yet. Are we early?

We cross Plains Road and walk by Vince’s Jewellery Store, beyond the Donlands Cinema. I’m cranking my head over towards Joe, then down, supposedly to watch my footing in the snow. I sneak a look up the street and there she is.

Mom is heading our way and I want to duck into the Donlands Restaurant with Joe but I’m too chicken. Maybe it’s closed, I tell myself. But wait. Mom is doing her diplomatic thing. She pulls into a doorway, Hurst’s Drugstore, I think. Joe and I keep on talking and walking. I can feel Mom’s eyes on us.

When we stop for the lights at O’Connor, I turn to Joe.

“I can walk home the rest of the way myself,” I say. “Yeah. It’s just up there.” I point to my right.

“Okay. I’ll call you sometime during the week.”

“Okay. Good night.

“Good night.”

Fortunately, he doesn’t kiss me. Mom catches up with me. Now I’m in for it.

“I didn’t want to embarrass you so I stepped into the doorway,” she says. (Excerpted from You Can Go Home, Copyright 2014 Sharon A. Crawford).

Growing up solo did give me the background to learn to think for myself. Problem was it took me nearly 30 years to start doing so. When you grow up an only child cocooned by elderly parents, particularly if one or both are protective, throw in losing your dad to cancer when you are 16 and your mother to a brain aneurysm when you are 22, and then you get married three months later, you aren’t exactly prime material for sticking up for your rights. Instead you lean towards others taking care of you.

How can you change?
First you have to have a child; then get separated from your spouse or partner, and then get hit with medical and financial problems.


But growing up an only child can teach you to problem solve – mainly because you have to learn to go inside yourself and pull out some possible solutions. The flip side is you may have trouble asking others for help. And when you do, it comes out as a big whine.


It didn’t all come right away, but I’ve turned into a fighter- finally. True I’m often cranky and come on strong in anger, but I’d rather be that than a perpetual doormat.


Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Aloneness, Elderly parents, Life demands, Mom and Dad, Only child, Only child memoir, Sharon A. Crawford, Social skills only children

Only Child and social skills

Only Child, age 7. at Holy Cross School

There’s research  that says only children don’t have problems developing social skills because they get enough interaction with their peers. The backstory of this study is that with families now getting smaller and going down to one child, maybe junior will be socially challenged. Or will he or she?

My son and I, both only children, went to opposite ends of the poles as children. Martin had no trouble making friends and interacting with them from a young age. When he was in his teens our place was teen central, but part of that was because he played in a rock band and they practised in my basement. At least I knew where he was. I think the key here was getting him involved in activities with other children when he was young. He took swimming lessons, did track and field and was on the local kids’ soccer team  – all prior to age 10. When he was a toddler, I took him to a Mothers’ Morning Out Group at one of the local churches. Here the kids played while being babysat by some of the parents (done on a rotating basis per sessions) while the rest of the parents sat and lisetened to a talk on something in the adult area of topics. I took notes and wrote a story about the talk for the local newspaper. With my freelance writing, Martin also was in daycare part-time and then there was school. That’s the one the researchers, Donna Bobbitt-Zeher, an assistant professor of sociology on Ohio State University’s Marion campus and her colleague, Douglas Downey, refer to in their research as the saving grace for only children’s development of social skills.

Not this only child. I was too shy, very easily intimidated and had overprotective parents, so landed in ongoing situations with a couple of people (the nun in the last post was one) who bullied me. The other one was a classmate. (I’ll cover bullying in another post). I had friends that I hung around with in grade school and in high school but in those days (you know, back in the grey ages) parents didn’t put their children into a lot of extra-curricular activities. My mom got me into ballet and tap dancing for one year when I was seven and then after that switched me to piano lessons. I don’t recall making any friends from those dance classes but the piano lessons and recitals brought a few what you might call “passing friendships.”  I really didn’t develop my social skills much until I was an adult and probably my writing helped. When meeting other writers and  editors and expecially getting out there to interview people for stories, you have to sink or swim in the social arena. In hindsight, I wasn’t completely hopeless in my childhood.  As I write in my memoir…

In grade 3 or 4, we girls discovered baseball – not the New York Yanks, but the unnamed Holy Cross Girls recess and after-school teams. By then the school had grown too small for the ever-expanding families of the baby boom, so the school board brought in three portables and dumped them in a corner of the girls’ yard. You could find a brother or sister of most of my classmates in a portable or in the main building. As an only child, I was in the minority. That may explain why I adopted baseball almost like an obsession. Baseball was a way to belong…

Our girls’ baseball diamond, a mixture of sporadic sand pits and weed patches, stood over by the three portables, so we had to be careful we don’t throw or hit the ball through a window. I don’t recall that ever happening although some of those foul balls landed between the portables or on one of their verandas. Not any I ever threw did. I played third base, over by the last portable near the linked fence corner. Whenever someone hit a ball my way, I caught it. It made up for my lousy pitches. I couldn’t strike anyone out even with my eyes open.

But I could hit – not far – just enough to run to first base. I am right-handed in everything else but my technique was to hold the bat over my left shoulder and when I saw the ball coming, swing the bat around and whack – when I didn’t miss…

In winter, when snow, slush and ice made chasing after balls somewhat dangerous, we sometimes spent recess sliding down the small hill at the front end of the girls’ yard, at the fence over by the church yard. Or we’d stand around in a huddle and talk – but that came when we were 12 and 13.

(Excerpted from You Can Go Home – Part 1 – Deconstruct, Copyright 2010 Sharon Crawford)

So I’m not a shining example for this study of only children developing social skills.

The analysis used information that the National Study of Adolescent Health (ADD Health) collected on 13,000 + students  from grades 7 to 12, inclusive, attending over 100 US schools in 1994 and 1995. (I would like to see some more up-to-date data.) The interview method was used with each child listing their peers – five of each gender, and then the total overall votes for each participant was counted. This study was presented at the American Sociological Association (ASA) annual meeting in Atlanta on August. 20, 2010.  For more information on the study go to

And what about only children reading this? And parents of only children? What are your views on only children developing social skills? And what the heck to you think of this study?


Only Child Writes

I’d like to hear some comments about thisfrom only children and parents of only children. What do you think? If an only child, did you have problems developing social skills as a child? And parents of only children,


Filed under Family Size, Only child, Social skills only children