From the Eyes of an Only Child: What It’s Like to Have No Siblings
Pauline Vitug, an only child in her mid-20s, shares her thoughts as well as the pros and cons of having no siblings.
We’ve seen a rise in modern-day parents choosing to only have one child—hence the saying, “One and Done!” There are many reasons why—with financial and emotional stability as the top two. But while we’ve seen things from a parent’s point of view, what is it like from an only child’s perspective? Modern Parenting sat down with Pauline Vitug, an animator in her 20s, and the unica hija of Chris and Luchie.
“Growing up as an only child was not as lonely as others would think, especially since people kept telling my parents to give me a sibling. It makes me a lot closer to them since I was the only focus of attention,” Pauline starts. “I had a great childhood. My parents raised me to be close to my cousins, so I was never physically alone. I also enjoyed my alone time whenever I’d play with my toys. Although now being 25 years old, I realized there were a lot of things and qualities I lacked that only people who grew up with siblings learn.”
The family dynamics of three
As a small family, Pauline and her parents, Chris and Luchie, value quality time. “We’re a tight-knit family that always spends time together. Our quality time involves going to malls, eating out, and watching movies—both at home and in the cinema. Gift-giving is a love language of ours as well. My parents and I have always been thoughtful. We always bring home food or sweets whenever we come from other places,” she shares.
Though she admits that they aren’t perfect, just like every other family, they try their best to communicate as much as possible. “We’re more vocal than most families. Sometimes, we exchange painful words when fighting. But because of this rather aggressive approach, we get to resolve fights faster. Honesty and trust are very important to us, too. My parents like to know the people I surround myself with.”
Being alone is not the same as being lonely
Despite being an only child, Pauline never felt alone. “I’m very close with my parents and never saw a problem bonding and spending almost all of my time with them. In fact, I choose to spend most of my time with them. I also learned to love being alone.”
But does being an only child get lonely at times? “Yes,” Pauline answers. “I’ve always craved that sibling connection and relationship. I’d see how my cousins and friends could rely on their siblings, and still be there for each other no matter what, even during a fight. I would also see how they’re aware that they would do anything for each other. I may have great friends, and cousins I’m close to. But the fact is that at the end of the day, I am not siblings with any of them. Boundaries still exist and it just isn’t the same.”
“If I mess up, it’s not the same kind of forgiveness as when a sibling messes up. I can’t rely on anyone else as well or expect others to do what I would do for them. And when the day comes that my parents leave this world, I’ll have nobody but myself. Unlike how siblings will always have each other.”
The pros of being an only child
Pauline is quick to list the pros of having no siblings. For one, her parents were always focused on her as she was growing up. “I have no other sibling to divide their attention, so they were always tutok with me. They got to correct certain behaviors right away, invest in my extracurriculars, and be present whenever I needed them. They would also hatid-sundo me to all my events and meetings—to ensure my safety and because they always support me.”
Being an only child taught Pauline at an early age to be comfortable with being alone. “I enjoy downtime days when I have no plans. I don’t need to rely on seeing people regularly to stay sane.”
Additionally, her parents could afford to give her the best education and equipment. “They worked hard and saved a lot to make sure I would have quality things in life.”
Pauline is proud of her close relationship with her parents as well. “Some people would be surprised about the things I share with them. But honesty just allows an even deeper trust and respect for us. Plus, I have no choice but to share whatever stories and thoughts I have with them because I have no siblings to talk to at home,” she laughs.
Lastly, having no brothers or sisters means no one to fight with. “I’ve heard and seen siblings fight, especially about money. My dad would always tell me that he purposely wanted just one child so that we could live in peace and without conflict. He didn’t want children whose relationships would be strained because of money,” she points out.
The cons of being an only child
On the flip side, Pauline is just as aware of her fears and concerns as an only child. “A fellow only child friend and I both have this fear that once we move out and get married, our parents will be left alone. There will be no one to watch out for them. My parents never asked nor obliged me to take care of them. They’ve always been supportive of me even going abroad to pursue my career. But it is a personal thing—the need to make sure they’re okay, healthy, safe, and taken care of. Because they’re all I have in this world and they mean so much to me, I want to cherish the time I have with them.”
Another fear that Pauline has is being left alone once her parents pass on. “It’s one thing to enjoy being physically alone. It’s another to hold all the precious memories of our families when they are no longer present. I fear the day that no one will be able to remember and laugh at random memories that happened at home. Siblings will have each other to remind, remember, and laugh about those memories.”
One other con is that there’s a tendency for Pauline to be compared to people outside their family unit. “The notion is that it’s usually siblings who are compared to each other. I suppose our parents can’t help but sometimes compare us to other people. So it hurts more when I’m being compared to someone outside our family.”
Having her parents’ undivided attention can be a con, too. “Since it’s just me, they’re extra protective. My parents want me to learn from their mistakes and for me to avoid making mistakes. They were very strict and didn’t always allow me to certain events and especially out-of-town trips. They always say that if they lose me, that’s it.”
Sharing attention can be tricky for Pauline. “Especially with attention,” she admits. “I do get jealous when my parents give more attention to other people my age. It has shown up in my relationships with friends and other people. I get envious easily and want what they have. Whether it’s material, or the attention, or the deeper relationship that others have.”
Lastly, without having any siblings to banter with, Pauline feels she has become sensitive, fragile, and extremely conscious. “I’m not 100% used to teasing, bullying, and fighting. I lack some qualities that people have picked up from growing up with siblings.”
Advice to only children
If given the chance to talk to fellow only children, Pauline has a lot to advise. “It’s easy to want what others have—especially siblings and the relationships they have. But the people who will always have your back are your parents. Never take them for granted. And always listen to them! It’s true when they say our parents know best. They are also the people we can trust the most. Their love for us knows no boundaries. And every decision they make is for us.”
“Some days may be tough like when we get into fights with them. But know that they just love us so much. Love them and cherish them. They are our best friends. Being an only child, our parents become our best friends, siblings, confidants, and advisors in one. There will come a time when they might say, ‘Papunta ka pa lang. Pabalik na kami.’ And it’s true. They only want to protect us, and to see us succeed and reach our dreams.”
“You will come across people with different parenting styles, too. Some that might be more appealing to you. But always appreciate, respect, and be grateful for your parents. They know what’s best for us, and only they will have our backs when things get difficult.”
“Lastly, always express your love for your parents. Take every chance you get to tell them you’re grateful for them, and that you love them. Some may think it’s a lonely thing to be an only child. But I think it’s a blessing to be able to have the chance to have such a deep-rooted bond with my parents.”