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In 2021, when I wrote about being raised as an only child, I aimed to share the mental health issues that such children might go through while growing up, seeing as I was raised as an only child. When I wrote about it, I was at the end of my first trimester with my son, and it had not dawned on me that he was to be born and raised almost the same way I was.
My baby is now two years old and currently, an only child being raised by an only child. I say currently because I have no third eye and have no idea what the future has in store for him and me yet, babies creep up on you like ghosts at night. However, there are some observations I have made about myself and my parenting that I thought to share.
One thing that the past two years have taught me is my increased fear of death. Recently, I shared my biggest encounter with that fear when I shared about an event that took place in 2023 when Malawi was hit by Cyclone Freddy, which claimed hundreds of people.
I feel the need to be extra, extra careful in everything I do because if anything happened to me, there is no blood relation born from the same womb as me who would take my offspring in. If there is ever any solace is a prayer that my chosen siblings, who are my cousins, become parental figures to my child.
I have realized that many parents who are in the same predicament share the same fear. Now that we have shared that, let’s now dwell on other tips.
Lessons from Raising an Only Child as an Only Child
The title might have said tips for raising an only child, but to be quite honest, these are tips for the actual parents and some of the experiences you will encounter. It is still premature for me to be sharing tips on raising a child when I am an amateur myself and leaning on others to learn how to raise my own.
Before I share anything, some of these stem from raising a baby while still staying with your parent(s). While it might apply to some, it might also be alien to others. So pick and choose whichever resonates with you.
1. Be proactive in creating a community
One of the earliest blog posts that I stumbled on late in my pregnancy was titled Raising Awesome Only Children. It shared the importance of creating community around your child and allowing them to socialize to gain social skills. I later emphasized the same when I wrote about building a Strong Community for your baby as a New Mom.
As a child raised by a single parent, I saw how my mother made sure to take me around her relatives, which ultimately helped in creating a bubble of community around me that I now see as my safest zone. I have relations with second or third cousins who have been such influences in my life and have carried themselves as mother figures, brothers, and sisters that I can rely on heavily.
As a parent now, I see the efforts that my mother made, and I try and emulate the same for my son.
However, there is one issue, while I might create that community with my family, I fail to do the same with friends. Naturally, I like keeping a few in my circle, and while I might be a chatterbox, I am often as introverted as they come. I love my own company and often enjoy being in my home.
As my son grows, I can see that his personality is the polar opposite of mine; he loves to play. While I am still trying to make mom friends, other than the one I have who stays in the Northern part of the country, I have found a savior in my maid. Through some of the friendships she has in our neighborhood with other maids, she can take my son for play dates with kids from those households, thus feeding his daily social skills.
But this is still an area I want to work on.
2. Your inner child will weep
A bitter lesson that I have had to shove down my throat is how I still wish I experienced a full childhood like others. I have shared before in my mini-biography that being raised by a single parent made me mature faster than other kids my age. Other events in my life might have also influenced this, but the heaviest influence was seeing my mom slave to raise me, and I wanted to create an easier space for her.
Years later, I now have a child of my own and sometimes, I can hear my inner child weep.
However, the biggest thing on my mind is creating an environment where my child does not ever feel obligated to mature as early as I did. I chuckle as I write this because raising an only child in a household filled with grown-ups will eventually make them feel that they too are grown.
I got bothered after my boy’s first day of school when he came back so sure that he did not want to return because he felt the babies in his class were making too much noise when they cried. When I dropped him off the next day, I learned that he was the baby in the class, and the kids he described as babies were all a few months older than him.
The fear engulfed me because I foresaw the possibility of my childhood being relieved through him. I am now at ease because what going to school has done is instilled his age, and that is a blessing to me.
3. You will have an Only Child face-off
I am not ashamed to say that I have had a couple of face-offs with my son. As I said before, we have crashing personalities, and while that is not a problem, one issue that is there is my MOTHER. You might have forgotten that I am an only child, which means before having a child of my own, my mother was mine.
Now here comes this new member of the house, with his cute face and adorable eyes, who completely just makes my mom swoon and forget about her original baby. Me, in case you might have forgotten, I am her original baby.
My son and I have gibberish arguments for my mom’s attention. He shows me his bossy side, but I am quick to remind him that I have mastered the only child characteristics for many years compared to his two-year experience. Imagine winning against me.
He wins each time, but it is because I let him.
What I am trying to say is, that while my inner child weeps, it is also in glee because finally, I have someone who keeps me company. I now completely understand why single parents raising only kids might have boundaries blurred when it comes to parenting their children and being friends with them.
Your child becomes your best friend, and often you become so playful with them.
These were the few lessons I have stumbled upon while raising an only child as an only child. Don’t be shy to share your feedback below.