Only children: stuck in the spotlight, surviving solo

Caroline Whitlatch and her mom, Lisa Thiergartner, at Thanksgiving. (Photo courtesy of Caroline Whitlatch)

Many dream of a quiet house with all the attention on them. A simple life, where sharing and fighting with siblings is something that is never thought about. However, the question of whether being an only child is lonely or lucky can only be answered by someone who lives the lifestyle.

Junior Caroline Whitlatch said that there are good and bad parts to having no siblings.

“Being an only child means all of the focus is on you, so it’s hard to get away with anything,” she said. “It also makes it a pro because holidays are better.”

Junior Molly Dreibelbis agreed, saying that she has experienced ups and downs as an only child.

“It’s gotten better as I’ve gotten older,” she said. “Growing up, I would always complain about not having anyone to play with, but now it’s kind of nice to not worry about siblings running around so I can focus on what I need to get done.”

Whitlatch’s mother, Lisa Thiergartner, said she noticed more challenges when her daughter was younger.

“She would want me to play Barbies with her, which I did not want to do,” Thiergartner said. “I was never one to play make believe as a child.”

Driebelbis’ mother, Cheryl Rainford, said she also faced difficulties raising an only child.

“When she was about 5 years old she started asking for a sister or brother,” she said.

Another challenge Rainford faced was the struggle of finding family bonding activities.

“Family game night was always a challenge because there aren’t many games that are fun for three people,” she said.

Sophomore King Andre Dunning said he views being an only child as the best possible outcome.

“I love being an only child,” he said. “I don’t ever have to worry about siblings being annoying.”

Whitlatch and Dreibelbis said they value their friendships more as a result of having no siblings.

“I want to create stronger relationships with friends because I want to make my friends feel like siblings,” Whitlatch said.

Being the only child in her home has made it easier to talk with adults, Whitlatch said.

Her mother added that she got along great with adults even from a young age.

Dunning said that he always talks to his parents, which he feels has made him more mature.

“I feel like I can speak more comfortably with teachers, coaches and friends’ parents,” he said.

Dreibelbis said being an only child has affected her personality by making her more motivated and driven.

“I feel like my parents put a lot of pressure on me for my future because they don’t have any other focus on other siblings,” she said. “It’s made me more studious because there’s more pressure on me academically.”

Dreibelbis’ mother said that she may actually be harder on her daughter than parents of larger families because all of her energy is focused on one child.

Meanwhile, Whitlatch said she doesn’t feel much pressure from her parents because their relationship has allowed them to have open communication.

Her mother added that part of the reason why they have such a strong relationship is because she’s an only child.

Dreibelbis, Whitlatch and Dunning said they enjoy being around their friends’ big families because it’s such a different dynamic from their own.

“There is constantly stuff going on,” Whitlatch added. “My house was so quiet and boring, so it’s definitely fun being around a lot of people in one house.”

All three also shared their love for having more alone time due to being only children.

Dreibelbis said she needs to be alone to destress and feels like she needs more time by herself than other people because she’s used to having a quiet house.

Whitlatch added that she also needs significantly more time to herself than her friends because she’s spent more time alone than they have.

“If I don’t have my alone time, my mood is definitely affected,” she said.

Dunning said alone time is a necessity and that he needs it after being around other people for a while.

Due to being an only child, Whitlatch and Dreibelbis said that it is harder for them to share their belongings.

“I have a lack of trust on how people will take care of my stuff because I never had siblings stealing my stuff or ruining one of my shirts,” Whitlatch said. “I’m not bad at sharing, but it definitely can feel uncomfortable.”

Dreibelbis explained she used to struggle with sharing while hosting friends at her house.

“I wasn’t used to sharing a bathroom, so I found it more difficult to do so when the time came,” Dreibelbis explained.

However, Dunning said he hasn’t found it difficult for him to share.

“I always share because it makes me feel like a nice person,” he said.

While Whitlatch and Dreibelbis admitted that being an only child comes with its struggles, they both said it has made them who they are today and they wouldn’t change it.

“I’m grateful I’m an only child,” Whitlatch said. “It has made me into the person I am and has given me great relationships in places other than a sibling.”