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The Benefits and Pitfalls of being an Only Child: An Exclusive Interview with Andreea Pasol by Sindy Elezkurtaj, Woodford County High School

Andreea Pasol, a 17-year-old student at Woodhouse College, has been raised as a child without the accompaniment of any brothers or sisters. Her family immigrated to England from Romania when she was just a 3-year-old, and she is currently studying Biology, Psychology and French at A Level with high aspirations, after achieving impeccable GCSE results (ranging between nothing other than the top grades, equivalent to all A’s and A*’s). The state of being an only child: is this a positive or negative situation? You can be the judge of this, though popularity resides with the opinion that being an only child is exceedingly beneficial, when asking someone who is not in this position. Contrary to this, the better part of those who have grown up as an only child declare that, at times, the negatives evidently outweigh the positives. It is clear to see that – due to our human nature – the cliché of “we always want what we don’t have” comes into play here. Nonetheless, our interviewee had a plethora of things to comment upon the subject, from first-hand experience. 

Andreea’s opinion differs substantially from others concerning the topic of being an only child, the majority would love to have siblings, though she does not find herself in this position. Independence and undivided attention (which she pointed out as the best part of it, later in the interview) from her parents are things that she is used to and feels appreciation towards. Not only is she used to these aspects of living as an only child, but she is also used to it as a whole. Appertaining to whether she has ever felt the absence of a sibling, the student responded with, “having a numerous family makes up for the lack of brothers and sisters, I’ve never felt the absence of a sibling”. Simultaneously, if her parents had had more children, the company would not have been an issue for her.  

Considering she lives with her younger cousin, the deprivation of having brothers or sisters has not been felt as much. Despite the lifestyle of residing with an energetic 4-year-old “running around”, Andreea went on to say that during COVID times and lockdowns, it did get lonely at times. The incapability to socialise with someone close in age was the factor that contributed the most during the uncertain times. “I feel like if I had a sibling, lockdown would have brought us closer. Being used to the independence and living in my own space, it didn’t feel that much different staying inside all day. Not having siblings has made me more of an introverted person which was useful during COVID times”, Andreea elucidated.  

Following Andreea’s birth, as she described, “my parents intended on having more children, but it was ill-advised”. Thus, when asked if she had ever blamed her parents for letting her grow up without any siblings, the answer was clear: “no, never”. As a result of the complications initiated by Andreea’s birth, her mother experienced difficulties concerning her health, so she was not able to carry any more children. As a matter of fact, she stated that, “to some extent, I’m glad my parents only had me, I like having them all to myself and being their main focus”. This is an aspect of being an only child that if not all, most will relate to – and their parents would be their main focus in a reciprocal manner.  

Upon the matter of what her imagination of life with siblings would have been like, the student depicted that as a result of hearing and seeing others with their brothers/sisters, she imagines that they would have shared all their memories, confided in one another, and simply enjoyed each other’s company. Andreea enunciated that, “of course, like any healthy relationship, there would be some misunderstandings and friendly banter, but we would always make up and be grateful for each other”. Over and above this, she imagines that living as an onlyborn would reveal to be the most difficult in the future – when she is older – and when her parents age, “I won’t have anyone to stick by me”.  

In regard to the best thing about not having any siblings, the idea that her parents dedicated their entire lives on her success and happiness was prevalent. “They moved us from Romania to England so that I would have the future they couldn’t have for themselves. Anything I want, they provide for me, and I could not be more grateful for that”, she added. To extend this, having her own space and the ability to be alone with her thoughts makes her prefer being an only child, as well as the love and attention. With that, if she had had a brother or sister, this latter would be split, which proves to be an advantage of being her parents’ only offspring. To the contrary, appreciating that she does not feel resent towards being an only child at all, Andreea proceed to note that “sometimes I wish I had a sibling to just watch a movie with me or play a card game”. 

The interviewee remarked that she is grateful for the people that are in her life in which she can express herself to and share things. Although, it cannot be neglected that it is disheartening to not have “an older sister to share crucial moments with”. On answering to whether her perspective had changed over the course of her life, Andreea confirmed that she does not remember much. Yet, she believes she was keener on the prospect of having a sibling when she was younger in comparison to the present. 

As for myths relating to the characteristics and behaviours of only children, Andreea confirmed that “only children can be bossy: when I was younger, I was very bossy and tended to be quite mean at times. I would say that this is no longer the case. I do love getting my way still, but I am more considerate of other people now”. Furthermore, she went on to add, “many people say only children are spoiled and that doesn’t necessarily have to be a negative aspect. Parents of one typically want to give their children the world and I see nothing wrong with that as long as their child remains forever grateful and doesn’t patronise those who aren’t as ‘spoiled’”.  

On that note, whether we have siblings or not, the most crucial thing is to remain considerate and understanding of others’ experiences and emotions. Invalidating the views of others is never acceptable, everyone is unique! There is not a doubt that being an only child can be difficult but also magnificent and special! Nonetheless, however it may be, spreading love and appreciation to those who are important to us is key; no matter what and who we may be.  

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