Singled Out: Parenting Siblings as an Only Child

Being an only child has always made me unique. Most of my friends growing up had brothers and sisters and I didn’t, but I always enjoyed being an “only.” My parents were really good about letting me have friends over any time. I was always allowed to take a buddy on vacation with us. I was naturally showered with attention (both good and bad) from my mom and dad. Although I use the phrase “overly loved,” I was spoiled, like most only children I know. My mom and dad provided a nice life for me that I didn’t have to share with a sibling. I never thought about how being an only child would impact how I parent my children.  

I never regretted being an only child until I was in my mid-twenties. Never did I feel isolated or lonely. My parents made our house the house where lots of kids wanted to hang out at. The year I got married was an especially challenging year for my family. Both my mom and grandma (who I was very close with) were very ill and they were in and out of hospitals and rehabilitation centers for several months. It was exhausting. It would have been such a relief to share this experience with a sibling. Thankfully, my aunt was able to come help my dad and I care for them because we were both working full time. As my parents get older, it would be nice to have someone else to share the load of caring for aging parents. 

Ashley Hickel Photography

Besties for Life

Although my upbringing as an only child was idyllic, I knew once I had my first daughter that I wanted her to have the sibling I never did. No one can share your experiences like a brother or a sister. No one knows the idiosyncrasies of your family like someone who grew up in the same home as you. Even though siblings are often raised in the same house with the same parents, they can turn out vastly different. Sometimes they grow up and are best friends, and sometimes they are arch rivals. In my opinion, your relationship with your siblings often relates to type of parenting you experienced growing up. 

While raising two girls who are about two years apart has been a wonderful blessing, it has also been challenging. They fight, wrestle (who knew that little girls did that??), and scream at each other at a more frequent rate than I ever could have imagined. They are also developing a relationship that is built on whispers, laughs, and plots against their father and I. I love watching them interact with each other. As they are growing older, their bond is strengthening. They are playing (and fighting!) more and more together.  

“Normal” Family

I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t disappointed my second daughter was a girl. We were really hoping a for a boy. But after I wrapped my head around being a mom to two girls, I became excited to give them something I never had: a sister, a built-in best friend. While I know their relationship will not always be perfect, I hope and pray they have each others backs the ways siblings always should.  

As an only child, I often ask my husband (who is from a family of three), “Is this normal?” or “How long do we let them fight it out?” While no one really knows the answer, he is the resident expert on sibling relations at our house. Since he’s the little brother, with two older sisters, he is an excellent communicator who isn’t a stranger to girl drama.  

Playing Favorites

While being an only child is more common today than it was thirty years ago when I was growing up, it’s still a unique way to grow up. Some of my friends who are raising only children ask me for advice and input for raising a well-adjusted singleton. I’m no expert, but I think my parents did a good job of making sure I wasn’t a stereotypical only child spoiled brat. One thing I never had to worry about was who was the favorite child. While most parents have one, and it may change day by day, minute by minute, most parents keep it to themselves who their number one is.  

While I try my best to foster their relationship, it’s not always easy. I am always reminding both of them that they are sisters and they will always be there for each other, even after mom and dad are gone. While they are little, they probably can’t grasp the magnitude of their relationship and their importance to each other, but I will continue to remind them how lucky they are to have each other, even when my family room has turned into a wrestling arena. 

If you’re an only child raising siblings, how do you feel your upbringing has changed your perspective on parenting? To read a different perspective on only children, check out Dear Lonely Mom of One.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.