So many acronyms in today’s day and age, who knows wtf they all really mean? Seeing as I am a millennial, I will embrace my love for the language of abbrevs. This is another to add to the mix, Only Child Syndrome (OCS).
I was often teased about being an only child, and or people would say it was an explanation for many of my actions. Not until I was in college did I hear the actual term OCS. It was relayed to me by a fellow member of the club, and I’ve never bonded with someone so quick. I actually had a long infatuation with said human simply because he was an Only, but that’s a story for a different chapter.
Ever since, it’s been a term that pops up quite frequently in my life. It’s become an excuse for my erratic behavior, and I’m reluctant to say I’m down with the sickness. Afterall, ole G Stanley Hall (a dude no one knows) was one of the first to say being an only child was “a disease in itself.”
After much research, I came to find there isn’t much real documentation on the subject. This is quite surprising, as the stereotypes of only children tend to pop up so frequently. Apparently it must be all hearsay from a bunch of people who grew up in a Brady Bunch situation (Yikes).
According to the good ole internet, only about 20% of us kids worldwide grow up as only children. The number of families having only one child in the 20th century grew rapidly due to many factors, including the high uptick in divorce. Not to mention as more millennials continue having children, expect many more onlies in the population.
Take a second out of your day and Google “what is only child syndrome?” These are some of the top traits that are listed:
- Selfish or Self Centered
- Spoiled Brats
- Unable to Share
- Maladjusted or Less Cooperative (this is related to social skills with others)
- Aggressive and Bossy
- Lack Self Control
I would also like to note that the one child policy in China was enforced as of 1979 (ended in 2015), and the children were called “Little Emperors.” I happen to fucking love that nickname, and at my last birthday dinner my waiter literally called me that (shoutout to Jon and Vinnys).
Researchers found after a study of 250 students, that “Onlies” brain scans showed they have far less agreeable personalities. The part of the brain that shows this determines how much empathy we have in relation to others. Since we don’t have a support group to go through trauma together, emotions are something that often aren’t as widely expressed in only children.
Personally, I believe this trait to be one of the main factors of many of my behaviors. It helped me become stronger, even more independent, and insanely self sufficient. It contributes to the “I do it” mentality, which was my favorite phrase as a toddler (per my Madre). I’ve always believed that I could do most things better for myself, than someone else could do for me. Still learning how to ask for help at almost 30. Except for opening any object, I have carny hands and I cannot open anything. I actually corkscrewed a Gatorade and drank from it like a sippy cup just a week ago.
On the opposite spectrum, the tests also showed that we score much higher on a creativity scale, due to the expansiveness of our imagination. This makes for a great writer, now doesn’t it?
We tend to develop very independent tendencies, and also mature faster from being around so many adults. Due to this, onlies are better at manipulation as they understand what adults want and or are looking for. A buncha precocious little buggers aren’t we?
Let’s get into some of the good shit shall we:
- Higher Academic Scores
- Confident (what’s wrong with being? Demi where you at?)
- Highly organized
- Sense of Privacy (secrets, secrets are so fun)
- Self Motivated
There is a higher scrutiny on an only child’s behavior, because duh they are the only one to concentrate on. This is why they tend to be very competitive, even though they are only competing against themselves.
Most have great vocabularies at a young age, can’t you tell with all these fucking smart words up in here? (rolls eyes) We are not driven to conform to any sort of role within our family, therefore we are free to develop more naturally. I’ve always had a very strong relationship with myself, and have been curious as to why I am who I am and why I act certain ways.
I was always pushed to achieve what I wanted, and told that I could have whatever that was if I worked for it. Many of you that grew up in the same age I’m sure were told the same, which brings me to my next point. There is some research that of course shows that there are no differences in the makeup of only children’s brains opposed to children with siblings.
I’m not sure if I believe that, but I’m a Libra and there are two sides to every theory.
As most of you know, the things we go through as a kid deeply affect tendencies we have as adults. Although people would like to think humans change over time, the reality is we don’t all that much. The scenarios we are faced with often change, but our reactions to them are mostly drawn from the same emotions that have always been there. This principle applies to my life, as much as I would like to deny it.
Now, I won’t claim to be the golden child of the flock of only children spanning far and wide, but I believe I have had a pretty decent experience in the realm of Only Child Land. I am volunteering my lessons learned as a voice of OCS ridden humans everywhere.
Each chapter is a lesson I have learned over the span of my 28 years and counting. Each applies to my OCS, and is quite telling of how I dealt with the syndrome as a kid versus how I do as a so called “adult.” Spoiler alert: things have not drastically changed.
If you are an only child I hope you can find some comfort in these tales knowing you are not alone. Although some of you aren’t in actuality only children, you may have grown up in a situation that made you feel as such. My goal isn’t to lay down the law of what it actually means to be one, but more to show the relatability of Onlies in the stratosphere of family dynamics.
If you have a sib or two, or a dozen, I’m hoping you can learn something about your fellow club kids (OCS club not the Michael Alig club – we aren’t murderers). Perhaps in hearing my path you are able to change your views of an only around you, and what it means to actually have OCS.
Due to the goddamn law I probably have to have a disclaimer that not all only children think and or act in such a way as I do (some could be murderers?) Irregardless, (which may or may not be a word) this is the tale of a girl who suffers from chronic OCS, and how she lives with the disease.