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  1. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueRidge View Post
    My sister and I are 11 months apart. In my experience, this has been excellent.
    My late sister and I were four years apart. This was not so good since I was happily ensconced as only princess when she showed up. We fought all the time til we were teenagers and then made common cause against our mom and the world at large.

    I was the "typical" competitive, aggressive, Type A but not so social older child, my sister more outgoing once she got past teenaged sullen, rebellious stuff. I miss her. I'm now an only child, although I have stepsiblings I'm close to, and it's not fun getting used to that later in life.

    And BR is indeed an introvert until she gets to know you. Then you will hear many opinions, all of which are interesting and some of which are fiercely emily samuelson held.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prancer View Post
    It's interesting to me that so many onlies say they were never lonely because they read a lot. I did and do that, too, but I'm not convinced that being entertained or engaged is the same thing as not being lonely.
    It's not but neither is having siblings. The feeling of being lonely is self-defined.

    I have hardly ever felt lonely. Bored to death sometimes maybe, but not lonely.

    I think if a child is an introvert, having siblings may help the child to learn social skills early on. And if a child is a people person, being an only child may help them to learn to self-entertain. Either way, there are pros and cons.

  4. #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by agalisgv View Post
    OT, but I've never understood how babies can be born so close together. I guess you would have to not nurse. Or maybe the second is premature. But two full-term babies? How does a woman's body recover that quickly to conceive again?
    Breast feeding, while usually a natural contraceptive, is not always. And since the menstration cycles are a little off after delivery one may not know if they are ovulating or not. Kinda the same reason that some women who think that they have gone through menopause don't use contraceptives - they think they don't need to.

    Yes, sometimes there is a premature birth following the previous child. Or like a family I knew who had a premature infant, possibly not to survive, and became pregnant within 4 weeks and that baby was full term. Those babies are 10 months apart.

  5. #65
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    Quote Originally Posted by agalisgv View Post
    OT, but I've never understood how babies can be born so close together. I guess you would have to not nurse. Or maybe the second is premature. But two full-term babies? How does a woman's body recover that quickly to conceive again?
    Happens quite a bit actually. If a woman is of certain age and just had a child and is nursing but wants another one soon, she is recommended to stop nursing. OTOH, usually Ob/gyns recommend waiting about a year.
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  6. #66
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    I was a semi only child (two half-siblings more than 20 years older, and for many years, I always stressed how they were my "half-siblings", I'd never describe them as just siblings even though we had the same mother). While I had about 10 cousins, I only interacted with 6 or so due to family dynamics and all of them were at least 9 years older. There was one girl who was just 6-7 years older and we never got along. So there was noone I could play with really. Moreover, my parents were considerably older than the parents of other kids my age, very out of touch with the times and interacted with a lot of elderly people.

    What I remember most about my childhood was being not so much lonely as alone a lot of the time, and and most of my interaction with people was with old people.

    I had a lot of difficulty relating and getting along with my peers until I became an adult, and I believe this to have been caused by, or related to, my childhood environment.

    I see this in my 9-year-old niece. She's also an only child and while her parents are younger than mine were and she has a few cousins closer to her in age, she does spend a lot her time with old people. She is experiencing the same issues with her peers and classmates I remember myself going through.

    To be honest, being an only child sucked in many ways, though mostly because of how my mother was. She really did make my life an emotional hell and since my aunts and uncles did not have the guts to stand up to her, their attempts to protect me only made things worse. My older siblings were absent and/or of no help, and I often think that had my mother had more children closer to me in age, she might have been more 'normal'... maybe... or maybe I could be a bit of an observer and realize much, much earlier just how emotionally damaging she was.

    And yes, I did read a lot, tend to be an observer in social situations, and I am very independent and often prefer to do things on my own (group setting = torture).

  7. #67
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    I'm an only child and I also read a lot as a kid. I never found myself particularly lonely, I had animals and I had a lot of friends.

    I tend to be introverted and an observer at first in social situations but once I figure them out and the dynamics in play I open up a lot. Sometimes it takes me a few times in the same situation, others it happens pretty quickly.

    However, to this day I get along much better with people older than me. I can't tell you how many times when I was younger I'd mention how much I hated children only to be told that I was one. Same thing when I was a younger-middle teenager.

  8. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueRidge View Post
    My sister and I are 11 months apart. In my experience, this has been excellent.
    You should ask your mother what this was like when you were both under 2.

  9. #69
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    I'm an only. I wish I had siblings. I was always very lonely, I had friends but I'd always lose them eventually (due to moves or whatever), and now I am so lonely even though I'm grown up and married. Once college was over, no more friends because I moved back home. Blah.

    I did read a lot and although I feel like in groups I am introverted, when I was younger I was an extrovert because I was desperate for friends and for people to like me. I got along with adults and older kids more often (neighborhood kids were older than me) so I was always a pretty mature kid. It was fine by the time I got to high school but it made the years before pretty crappy in regards to friendships.

  10. #70
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hannahclear View Post
    You should ask your mother what this was like when you were both under 2.
    I've heard about it. diapers, diapers, diapers, diapers...

    I was a quiet happy baby that never caused any trouble.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hannahclear View Post
    You should ask your mother what this was like when you were both under 2.
    Quote Originally Posted by BlueRidge View Post
    I've heard about it. diapers, diapers, diapers, diapers...

    I was a quiet happy baby that never caused any trouble.
    And your diapers didn't stink.

    I was an "only" for only 22 months ... and then my privileged life ended with the arrival of sister #1, followed 2 years later by sister #2, followed 15 months later by my "baby" brother. So 4 kids in 5 years, 2 in diapers and one barely out in a third floor walk-up apartment with no washer or dryer. My poor mother! But she didn't know what she was getting into ... and neither did my father.
    Quote Originally Posted by Lanie View Post
    I'm an only. I wish I had siblings. I was always very lonely,
    Both of my parents were only children, and while I don't remember my dad ever saying much about that fact, my mother told us time and time again how she had prayed for a brother or sister because she was so lonely growing up as an only child. Of course, this was usually repeated to us when we were in the midst of some sibling squabble -- and prefaced with how unnatural we were to be fighting, none of her friends' children ever fought (we never did, either, when "company" was around), and how we didn't realize how lucky we were to have each other. This last part was true -- and now sister #2 I consider one of my very closest friends (unfortunately sister #1 is quite another matter) and my "baby brother" has sadly died much too young.

  12. #72
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueRidge View Post
    I've heard about it. diapers, diapers, diapers, diapers...
    My husband is the oldest. The second child is 50 weeks younger. The third child is one year and five months younger than the second child. The fourth child is one year and six months younger than the third child.

    My MIL also didn't believe in early potty training, and she considered three early.



    Cloth diapers, too, which she boiled with bleach.

    She considers her years with her boys the best years of her life and is always reminiscing about the good times she had when they were all under five. When we leave, my husband will tell me all about the times she locked them out of the house because they were driving her crazy .

    Then she had her last child and only daughter when she was 45, which is a whole 'nother kind of
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  13. #73

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    My mom says having my brother and me so close together was incredibly hard. Also, my (paternal) grandmother had devastating stroke when she was around 8 months pregnant, in which she lost the ability to speak, walk, or control her bowels. Since she lived with us and my dad is the primary breadwinner, a lot of my grandmother's care fell on her at the beginning, while they got the initial in-home nurse situation worked out. Thankfully, they figured it out before my brother was born...

    Apparently, I took having my brother quite hard, because I would cry and scream when my mom would hold and rock him and not me. I would also bite my brother when he was a baby It was having two babies at once and I don't think my mom liked it one bit.
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  14. #74
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    I was 2.5 when my younger sister was born. We were friendly growing up, fought like crazy in our teens, then when I went away to college, the situation improved greatly. We just need our space

    My brother is 6 years younger than me and 3.5 younger than my sister. My sister disliked the idea of a brother so intensely that she used to get out of bed in the middle of the night and pee on the rug next to her bed. I don't think I had much of a reaction to his arrival. I probably did the opposite of my sister (or she the opposite of me) to differentiate myself. We did gang up on him quite a bit, though - for a while we had him terrified of leaves.

    One of my late aunt's favorite stories of us as kids was when she babysat during my parents' vacation. My sister had a temper tantrum about taking a bath, our aunt asked me how my parents usually deal with her. My 5-year-old self said, quite matter-of-factly, "Oh, just ignore her, Aunt M, she's like this all the time."

    As far as birth order personalities go, I'm not sure if I fit all the eldest child criteria, but my sister was always the princess and I was more down-to-earth. However, I'm also a moody Cancer, so not always level-headed.

  15. #75
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    My brother and I are eleven months apart. When I was very young it always bothered me that his birthday was first AND he turned the same age as me.


    On to the thread topic ... I have casually noticed that parents of onlies seem more angst ridden about their child than parents of multiple children. Perhaps only child intense worrying = multiple child regular worrying.

  16. #76
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    One of my friends is an only - and he is the most gregarious, outgoing, friendly guy and a born performer. I didn't know him when he was a child, but based on seeing his parents now, I can't believe they were totally angst-ridden. I think they made him the STAR and he just thrived. He just had his first kid - not sure if he's going for another, I suspect not, but if so I bet his son will be a lot like he is.

    I went from being the baby of a traditional nuclear family to being an only child of a single mother in the space of about a year - my parents split when my 10-years-older sister went off to college. I hated my mom having no one but me to focus on
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  17. #77
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lothlorien View Post
    I was a semi only child ... Moreover, my parents were considerably older than the parents of other kids my age, very out of touch with the times and interacted with a lot of elderly people... and most of my interaction with people was with old people.

    I had a lot of difficulty relating and getting along with my peers until I became an adult....And yes, I did read a lot....
    My parents were in their 40's when I was born & my half sibling was more than a decade older than me. I too spent more time with older people than my age group and found my peers to be silly most of the time when I was pre-teen. I also had a much larger vocabulary than my peers which also created communication barriers to an extent.

    I could entertain myself for hours with projects or books and like many others on this thread I read a tremendous amount. The only times I can recall feeling alone is when I am in a large crowd of people.) I am comfortable with small groups but really dislike large groups of people and accompanying noise levels. But, I think that has more to do with me being an introvert than the fact that I am basically an only child.

    I was not unhappy being an only child when I was a child. However, as an adult I am overburdened with old people who need a variety of assistance and no one to help me. If I ever had children, I would have more than one if possible for this reason. Although there is no guarantee that a sibling would be willing to help me if I had one.
    This was the case with one of my close friends. She had no family to help her over a 10 year period of dealing with aging, very ill parents. My half-sibling lives quite a distance away and has his own family obligations so that meant I shouldered most of the responsibility for my aging parents (though he was always at the end of the telephone line when I needed to talk or discuss problems, which was helpful.)

    However, from what I've seen personally, in most cases the "burden" still tends to fall on one person even when there are several children. Sometimes there is a lot of bitterness over that, especially when the ones who live nearest do next to nothing (not even visit often) and the one furthest away does all the work.

    I have no children but I am a favorite auntie.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Era View Post
    However, from what I've seen personally, in most cases the "burden" still tends to fall on one person even when there are several children. Sometimes there is a lot of bitterness over that, especially when the ones who live nearest do next to nothing (not even visit often) and the one furthest away does all the work.
    So very true! I have witness a lot of that with my cousins and my parents, aunts and uncles with their parents. And that's why I personally don't mind the "caring for aging parents alone" part. There is only me and it's my responsibility. No argument, no question, no bitterness.

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    IMO, there's no "ideal" family size as a recipe for happiness. There are lots of happy "only" children, and lots of unhappy people who have siblings.

    I'm an only child myself, and it's never bothered me. Used to love visiting my cousins (a rambunctious, lively, large family), but after a week or so I was delighted to come home! Regardless of family size, we all need to cultivate some good friends throughout life and make an effort to keep them. Often they're the ones who come through for us (and vice versa) in the end.

    When it comes to elder care, I agree with those who have said that all too often, the responsibility falls to one child, leading to conflicts or resentments between siblings, especially when those who don't participate actively have opposing views about key decisions. As an only child, at least you know that it's your responsibility and you can make decisions accordingly.

    Bottom line - the only kids will be just fine! (Or at least, just as fine as anyone else!)

  20. #80

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    I totally agree that one size fits all doesn't exist when it comes to family size.

    In regards to elder care, it can really vary. My mom's one of 7, and I can't imagine dealing with my grandmother as an only child. She's pretty helpless, to be honest. My grandfather died young, and my grandmother married young, was housewife, and never worked. She just kind of froze, or was shell shocked after his death. My eldest uncle pays her rent, my mom pays a lot of her bills and drives her everywhere (neither my aunt nor my grandmother drive), another uncle pays for her medical bills (grandma has a heart condition) and my aunt lives with her, as she can't really live on her own. It works fairly well.

    On the other hand, my dad's one of five, and all of my late grandmother's care fell on him, and by extent my mother. It was hard on them both.
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