if onlies

by rantywoman


Hundreds and hundreds of studies, both qualitative and quantitative, have been done over decades trying to ascertain how only children are different from anyone else. In just about every area studied, we’re not. And where we are the news is good: We tend to be higher achievers and have higher intelligence scores. But because the world has always told us who we are, we tend to understand ourselves in only child terms. If we’re antisocial, it’s because we’re only children. Of course, if we’re incredibly social, we also explain that characteristic in terms of our only childhoods. It’s quite a totalizing narrative. I have found in my own upbringing, and in the scores of interviews I’ve done, that it’s indeed an intense way to be raised. But that intensity has little to do with the stereotypes. I’d also add that only children tend to have parents — especially mothers — who make their lives more about a life outside of a domestic bubble, or incessantly juggling the demands of work and child-rearing. And I think that’s a very important environment for kids to grow up in — one in which the people raising them are more than just workers and parents.