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.
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