“PLEASE LET THIS BE ENOUGH” — that lone son every time
#4. There’s Implicit Pressure to Succeed at Everything
Say you have a family with three kids. The parents aren’t terrible, so the kids want to make them proud. But because the siblings can spread the responsibility around, some of the pressure is off. One son can marry young and pump out grandkids for Mom and Dad to fawn over, the daughter can put off family to be the rich, career-driven one who pays for the nursing home, and the other son can be the irredeemable fuckup. Mom and Dad get everything – the continuation of the family line, financial security in their old age, and a black sheep to complain about after they drink too much at a family reunion.
My natural proclivity would be towards the fuckup role, but with no brothers or sisters to pass the hard parts onto, I can’t enjoy the stress-free life of leisure that comes with completely failing to live up to your expectations. If you’re an only child, you feel like you have to get the great career and get married and have kids and support your parents when they’re elderly, and you have to accomplish it all in a short time frame. And that’s scary.