it’s only me {quick thoughts on being an only child}

i’m an only child. my mother is an only child. today, she posted this NYT article on how, to the surprise of pretty much anyone with siblings, only children have not been ruined by being the only child in their immediate family.

Consider the data: in hundreds of studies during the past decades exploring 16 character traits — including leadership, maturity, extroversion, social participation, popularity, generosity, cooperativeness, flexibility, emotional stability, contentment — only children scored just as well as children with siblings. And endless research shows that only children are, in fact, no more self-involved than anyone else. It turns out brutal sibling rivalry isn’t necessary to beat the ego out of us; peers and classmates do the job.

guys. this isn’t news. what is alarming (though not news to us only kids) is how many times someone has explained away the behavior of another person by saying “well, he/she is an only child, so…that explains why he/she is (being rude/being selfish/probably a serial killer)”.

because, as we all know, if you have a sibling, you are incapable of ever being selfish. or rude. or a serial killer*

but here’s the thing. when those people have explained that another person is a total asshat because they’re an only child, they’ve said that to my face. so. that’s not exactly polite, you know? it’s actually pretty f*ing rude. and inconsiderate of my feelings. and even though, 90% of the time, it’s followed by a deliciously awkward “but i mean, you’re not terrible” – it rings hollow. and kind of stupid. 

people are people. we are all a bit selfish, sometimes we’re rude, a handful of us are the murdery type. yeah, the family dynamic (siblings/no siblings, mom/no mom, dad/no dad, pet/no pet, mansion/apartment/shack/house…) affects how we turn out. but WILD THEORY HERE: sometimes, the person you are is a deeply individual thing. i know plenty of people who grew up in pretty craptastic conditions and turned out to be really quite fantastic. it’s impressive, but it’s also the resiliency of humans at work. what should amaze us about people who are different than we expect based on their background or childhood is not that they had that history, but that they, as people, are strong enough to (maybe) decide to be something different than expected. so don’t be asshats to people just because, of all the horrible life situations out there, they didn’t have siblings. and for the love of god, think before you casually drop your stereotype about only kids into the conversation.

*i don’t know the sibling stats on serial killers. MAYBE THEY’RE ALL ONLY CHILDREN.