siblings or singles?

In my current story, all of the main characters have siblings.  I think a couple of peripheral – but significant – characters will need to be “singles” to provide some balance to this.

Singles understand the world differently than those with siblings.

As I thought about it, I realised that at different times in life, the benefits and drawbacks of having siblings (or not) would change.  I’m playing with a list of pros and cons.

Having a Sibling vs. Going it Alone

siblings dilute parents’ attention, taking the heat off of each other;
when you are a single, all the focus is on you

siblings are the only ones who truly understand what it’s like to have your parents as parents

siblings give each other someone to play with;
siblings give each other someone to fight with

siblings argue bicker with each other; singles bicker argue with their parents

siblings play with each other; singles look to their parents as playmates

older siblings have to wait until their younger siblings catch up and/or
younger siblings have to watch their older siblings do things they can’t yet
and/or younger siblings get to do things sooner than their older siblings did –
ALL of which can create resentment

singles get to do things as soon as they can wear down their parents – which they have all the time in the world for, as they are not playing or bickering with siblings

siblings can follow you around when you don’t want them to, break your toys, borrow your things, and bust you with your parents; singles have no one to share their secrets with or to provide a diversion for a plan to work

singles don’t have to share, wear their sister’s hand-me-downs, or wait their turn

singles don’t get to share, wear their sister’s hand-me-downs, or take their turn

singles don’t have to babysit their siblings, which means that when they do babysit, they get paid for it

siblings might pick at each other all day, but if someone else picks on one of them, they will go back-to-back against the world

singles don’t have siblings to compete with or measure up to, except themselves, which can be worse than siblings (see above, all the focus is on you)

singles can have anyone they want in the wedding party

having siblings is not a guarantee you get along with them – sometimes your friends are the family you choose for yourself

singles are the only possible source of grandchildren – oh, the pressure

singles have no one to stand with them when they bury their parents*

*I know that’s a sad one, but one of my nine uncles brought it up to me when it looked more and more like my daughter would be an only child.  He’s also the uncle who told me that after the age of 25, you can no longer blame your parents for anything that goes wrong in your life.


I’m grateful for my brother and my sisters – they are some of the people on the planet I have the longest history with.

My daughter wanted a sister for the longest time.  Now she wishes she had an older brother who would have screwed up A LOT.  Mostly, I think she’s glad to be a single child: it’s what she knows, and she doesn’t have to share me, except with Ed.


listening to: Lady Antebellum, Home is Where the Heart Is

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