9 Ways Being An Only Child Actually Affects Your Life

I’m an only child, and for my entire life I’ve heard nothing but negative stereotypes about it. We’re spoiled, we’re entitled, we’re self-centered and don’t have good social skills because we’re alone all the time. Listen, I get where these ideas come from–hey, when your parents focus all their attention on you, it’s easy to get a little caught up–but these depictions of only children as tyrants is so damn extra. We might only account for a small percentage of the population, but we’re also just as selfless and friendly as anyone else. And let’s be real: Don’t act like you don’t know a spoiled brat with a sibling. Come on.

But even though stereotypes abound when it comes to birth order, there are actual statistics that can let us in on some solid facts about being an only child. So while being an only child might not determine your distinct personality, it can definitely have some significance to what your life is like. So if you’re an only child, you’ll definitely want to check out these nine ways being an only child actually affects your life.

You're A Better Student And Are Generally More Intelligent Than People With Siblings

Okay, don't get too ahead of yourselves...but facts are facts: Multiple studies have shown that only children have higher IQs, perform better in achievement exams, and are more likely to receive post-secondary education than people with siblings. Oh, and you're a better student than people with siblings, too.

But why? Parents with only one child get to devote all of their attention and resources on one child; one of those resources is self-esteem and encouragement. In turn, only children feel more motivated to make their parents proud. Plus, without all those siblings to compare and compete with, only children are less likely to conform and more likely to discover whatever it is they want to dedicate their attention and abilities to.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

You're A Little Happier

At least...when you're a kid. I mean, think about your friends with siblings: How often did they complain about their sibling or deal with sibling rivalry BS? What about craving for your parent's attention? Only children really don't have to stress about that at all, which leads to being happier during childhood. You don't have to share a damn thing or compete with anyone. It's a pretty sweet deal, not gonna lie. Unfortunately, everything gets a little less cheery when the teen years hit. Well, good while it lasts.

Legally Blonde

You Have A Stronger Relationship With Your Parents Than People With Siblings

When you're an only child, you spend more time around your parents than anyone else. So it might not be too surprising that people who are only children generally have a better relationship with their parents than people with siblings. Of course, not every only child has a healthy relationship with their parents, but it's safe to say that your relationship with your parents is definitely different when it's just the three of you than when there's, say, four or five or more of you. My relationship with my parents isn't full of sunshine and daisies, but I always got the impression that my relationship with them was a lot more casual than my friends with siblings.


You'll Be More Confident

Hey, maybe not all the time, but we'll take what we can get. A 20-year study determined that only children had higher index of confidence than other students with siblings. This is especially evident in academic settings when you're a child and a teenager. Why? Likely due to all that attention that the parents of only children shower them with. Little things like that can lead to a kid feeling more sure of themselves when they're, say, raising their hand in class. See, there's a plus side to all that parental attention that has nothing to do with being a brat!


You're More Self-Critical Than People With Siblings

You might be confident, and you might be smart, and you might be a little happier than someone with a sibling, but yo...only children are super hard on themselves. Only children can often have debilitating perfectionism tendencies, likely because there's more pressure for them to make their parents proud and more of a inclination to compare your success to that of your parents'. Um, as an only child, may I say that...this fact is a little too real.

Empire Records

You're More Independent And Mature

There's a misconception that people who are only children tend to be overly reliant on their parents. Well, that's actually untrue. They're actually more likely to be independent from their parents and more independent in general because they don't have siblings to lean on and have to be a little more self-reliant. Plus, being around adults so often can actually make only children come across as more mature. How so? Studies have noted that children who are only children are a lot more comfortable around teachers than children who grew up with siblings. That means that they're, subsequently, more comfortable around adults in general. Have you ever heard adults dote over how grown up you seen? Yup, that's why; you just come across as very comfortable around adults and other figures of authority.

You're Less Likely To Participate In Risky Behavior--Like Underage Drinking--Than People With Siblings

A study showed that people with siblings were more likely to participate in underage drinking than people who are only children. That might be because only children feel more responsible for making their parents proud of them, leading them to be less likely to be involved in risky behavior. Either way, interesting stat.

You Have A Tendency To Love Inclusivity

As much as people love to characterize only children as solitary, bossy weirdos, we're actually more likely than people with siblings to be pretty damn nice. Plus, they're very into inclusivity as opposed to exclusivity. Maybe it's because we have a tendency to be on our own so often. This also coincides with a desire to avoid conflict, which makes sense since we're not used to having to deal with familial conflict (like fighting with a sibling). We just want everyone to get along, okay? We're the hippies of birth order, I guess.

You're More Likely To Get Divorced

Well, this is a bummer: Only children are more likely to get divorced than people from large families. People who specialize in birth order suspect that this is because only children don't learn about compromise and problem solving the way that those with multiple siblings do. Hey, maybe we should make sure to marry people who understand that we can be hogs sometimes.


Are you an only child? Have you noticed any of these things happening to you or someone you know? What are the best and worst things about being an only child? Tell us in the comments!

You can follow the author, Ashley Reese, on Twitter or Instagram. Don’t worry, she doesn’t bite!

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