19 People Are Sharing What It Was Like Growing Up Without Siblings

Recently, I asked the BuzzFeed Community what their experience was like growing up without siblings. Many only children — including myself — felt content dancing down the yellow brick road of childhood by ourselves, while others wished they had that built-in best friend to tackle the world with.

While it was nice having personal space, receiving our parents’ undivided attention, and never having to share our belongings, was growing up without siblings worth it? Keep reading to find out what the community had to say.


“It would be so nice to have another person to share the emotional load I experience as an adult only child and would be totally worth giving up the perks I experienced when growing up as one.”


“I never had to deal with how annoying siblings can get. There were times where I wished I had siblings, though, but I’ve made peace with that. Also, the burden is on me to be there for my parents when they get to the point where they can no longer take care of themselves.”


“As an adult, it’s kind of sad sometimes being an only child because when my dad died I had no sibling to lean on and had to be the sole supportive child to my mom. I also will never have natural nieces and nephews, I can only have that through marriage.”


“My parents and I are best friends … I love them to pieces but my world was strict. Had their attention every moment, but there was no one to distract them from a lower grade, or break into a later curfew”


“While I can understand the stereotypes and admit that living with anyone else is a bit of a challenge after being an only child, I’ve only recently seen the biggest downside, IMO [in my opinion]. As your parents get older … there’s no one to share the fight, to counter the crazy, to hand off tasks or battles to. If one (or both) of my parents get sick, it’s on me alone. Every decision, every middle of the night call from hospitals or facilities, every argument to increase their safety — all me. And they’ve got each other.”

Sometimes, only can children feel more pressure to achieve than those who grew up with siblings due to the overpraise we received from our parents. This pressure can push us to work harder and become successful. Or, it can lead to burnout and avoiding work in fear that even if we put in the effort, we may not fulfill the high expectations our parents have for us.


“Having a sibling is like a forever friend, someone who will always have your back. I wanted someone who could sneak me in and out of the house, someone I could go drinking with and get into trouble. Being an only child isn’t the luxury everyone thinks it is. Not to mention the weight of your parents, being their only kid is a different kind of pressure that no one knows about unless they are one.”

Not to mention having helicopter parents…


“The good news is that I got all of my mom’s attention. The bad news is that I got ALL of my mom’s attention. I love her dearly but we both admit that she was overbearing for most of my life, and that probably would have been mitigated if I wasn’t an only child.”


“I was bored out of mind from time to time having no one to play with. But that only made me more creative in finding new stuff to do or inventing a new game … The only thing I minded, still kind of do, is that the attention is always on you. You can’t deflect. Got home late, got a bad grade, I couldn’t even [throw] out a ‘But X was late then, or Y failed that test.’ Or when you get older and they question why you’re still single.”

When parents of an only child decide to separate, they break the family bond built between the three of them. The child is left with uncertainty, unsure of next steps and how to cope with the change. They may even feel guilty for loving one parent more than the other, and they have no one to share the burden with.


“When your parents divorce there’s no one else going through the same experience at that moment who you can talk to and empathise.”


“In my family, my parents were the only ones divorced, and I was the only one who was an only child out of all the grandchildren. I grew up fast. I was always around the adults. … If something happens to my parents, it’s all on me. Neither remarried or had any other children and it worries me thinking about making medical decisions for two people on my own.”


For some only children, like myself, loneliness is our reality. I remember longing for a sibling to play dress-up with or recreate imaginary adventures found in my favorite books and movies.


“I do believe we grow to be self-sufficient but I had no one to actually be a kid with. It was lonely and yes I do enjoy my time alone, but sometimes it was too much and I longed for siblings I could share my struggles or joys with. People always tell me I’m lucky but they never try to see it from my perspective because they never had to … I do truly think that no child should be brought up alone.”


“It was incredibly lonely for me. I never knew how to socialize with other children and thus didn’t have many friends. My parents tended to scold me if I exhibited any “spoiled” behavior but tended to spoil me anyway. It was probably more difficult than it needed to be.”


“Sure, not having to share your stuff with siblings or always having your parents attention can be nice, but not having any siblings can be pretty lonely. It can also make you grow up faster in some ways … For example, being around a lot of grown-ups, you tend to have more advanced conversations with them. You might be more interested in things that would be more common in older kids or young adults. You get to develop one hell of an imagination!”


However, growing up as an only child has allowed me to feel comfortable with solitude and helped me foster a strong sense of independence. There really are genuine benefits to being a one and only. Studies have found that only children are good at socializing, tend to have a tighter bond with their parents, and are better at regulating their emotions during tough times and digesting difficult feelings compared to kids with siblings.


“I never had a problem being an only child. It was just me and my mum. I enjoy time in my own company and have always been very self sufficient. I have a lot of close friends who I consider to be my most important people, but slowly I started to realise that to my friends I am a good friend, but the most important people to them are their siblings. Realising this made me sad because while I would put them first in most situations, I realised that when my mum passes there won’t be anyone who I am that important to anymore.”


“I have been told I have only child syndrome before, but to me, it’s a good thing. I am comfortable going to the movies or having dinner alone whereas most people are not … I was lucky to grow up with cousins my own age who were my best friends but never wanted to live with them. I don’t feel like I missed out on anything.”


“I grew up an only child and I still am an only child. a lot of my friends have siblings and I always wanted to have siblings, because they can be your partner in crime, lol. But after seeing how frustrating big/little siblings can act/be around, I’m lowkey glad I’m an only child. ?”


“I had a fun childhood. I had my cousins if I needed a playmate. They’re like my siblings. I think I learned how to be self-sufficient on my own without any backup.”

Wonton Soup

The stigma attached to singletons is long-lived and not true, with criticisms tossed not only at the parents but the children too. It’s about time the stereotype that only children are selfish, spoiled brats, and attention-seeking narcissists is debunked. In fact, research supports onlies are creative thinkers, independent, and easy-going.


“I’m a preschool teacher, and I cannot TELL you how many times I’ve had or heard the conversation ‘Is the kid an only child?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Ah, that explains it.’ Excuse me, explains WHAT? ‘Oh, they’re still learning how to share, not aware of their surroundings and other kids, clearly an ‘all-about-me’ kid.’ IDK man, I’ve had plenty of students with siblings who still needed sharing lessons or how to cope with not getting their way.'”



“Pop culture has typecasted only children as selfish brats who can’t function in society, but that’s just a lazy way of thinking. The world is full of spoiled, entitled people, and from personal experience, most of them have siblings (looking at you, youngest children ?).”

Are you an only child? Let us know your thoughts below.

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