The Size of Success

Does your family size determine your success? According to an article in Time Magazine article, it just might.

As an only child, I’ve always wondered what life would be like if I had siblings. I constantly wished for a brother or sister to play with or take the constant attention off of me, but instead I ended up relying on myself for entertainment. This led me to become very independent, as well as industrious.

Capitol Mall, Washington D.C.-- At least in being an only child I got to travel more.

 When I was growing up, people always jokingly said that I must be a spoiled brat, even though I grew up in a normal, middle-class household and neighborhood. When I was a teenager, I couldn’t do nearly as much as all my friends, since my parents were so overprotective. Every choice I made was preceded with a long ‘family discussion,’ which usually ended in a compromise and sometimes a few tears.

Despite my strict upbringing, my parents have always been very loving and nurturing. They gave me the best childhood anyone could ask for and have been very supportive throughout my life. All they asked of me was to always try my best and to pursue my dreams no matter what. Now, 23 years later, I’ve graduated from college, completed numerous internships, and just landed a great career. With that said, I can’t help but think that my parents have had a significant impact on the successes in life. Surprisingly enough, an article in Time Magazine would argue the same.

In the article, The Only Child: Debunking Myths, the author Lauren Sandler sites sociologist Judith Blake, who argues in her book Family Size and Achievement that only children are higher achievers across socioeconomic lines. Simply stated:

“…there’s no “dilution of resources,”…between siblings. No matter their income or occupation, parents of only children have more time, energy and money to invest in their kid…That attention, researchers have noticed, leads to not just higher SAT scores but also higher self-esteem.”

In my youth, I remember doing hours of school work with my dad at the kitchen table, being in a different sport every season, and getting numerous books read to me every night. In short; I was the center of my parent’s world. As a result, I became very worldly and confident in myself, since I was given so much love and had a variety of experiences at a young age.

Dr. Carl Pickhardt, author of The Future of Your Only Child, is also cited in Sandler’s article and speaks to this saying;

“There’s no question that only children are highly indulged and highly protected,”…But that doesn’t mean the stereotype is true… “You’ve been given more attention and nurturing to develop yourself. But that’s not the same thing as being selfish. On balance, that level of parental involvement is a good thing. All that attention is the energy for your self-esteem and achievement.”

Although this pertains to my individual situation, I’m sure this isn’t the case for every only child. I’m also not saying that if you have one or more siblings that you won’t be successful, because that’s just ignorant and certainly not my view. I just find it interesting how the number of children in a family affects how they’re raised and what traits they acquire as a result.

Being the center of attention is hard (believe it or not). Whether they know it or not, parents of only children put a lot of pressure on them to be their star child, since they only have one shot. Some kids will be crushed under this pressure, while others will thrive. The same could be said in a multiple sibling household. You could allow yourself to be outshined by your sibling(s) or not be expected to do as much from your parents, but it’s up to you to decide how you want to respond to that.  Some will accept being underestimated, while others will prove their worth.

Whether you’re an only child like me, or come from a big family, it’s ultimately up to you what you will achieve in your life.

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