Question of the Week: Family & Friends

Do you wish you were born into a big family, medium-sized family, or as an only child?

Well, I am an only child, but for a few years (from about age six to eleven) I had a younger step-sister, about two years younger than me. If you’d asked me at the time, I would have said I wished I was still an only child (but we’ve gotten to be friends since then, and now I adore her). I also know that my mom wanted to, tried to, have more children, and while I feel her pain that her desire for more was denied to her, I am glad that I get to keep her all to myself (she’s pretty fucking cool, though, so if you ask me nicely I might share her. Sharon.).

I have friends who have one or two siblings, and while I’m enchanted with how they interact with each other, I never felt like siblings was something I missed out on, or something I desired to have. Maybe that’s because The Stepmonster (TM) always did her best to drive a wedge between my step-sister and I, always pitting us against each other; it wasn’t until I was much older and saw that my friends had siblings that got along, that it occurred to me that someone in your family could be an ally and not an enemy.

I also have friends who come from large families (my husband, for one) and that is just amazing. To see how much they all love each other, and support each other? I’m glad I get to see that — but again, don’t feel that I missed out on anything not having it, growing up. I had books, I had my imagination, I had G-ma. What else did I need?


  1. Quinn

    As an only child, I am still surprised when I find out that someone has siblings. It always seems weird to me. I don’t think I ever really missed siblings. As long as I had a couple of really good friends I was good.

    Now, I have friends who are family. That’s the best!

  2. Katherine

    My mom was an only child and vowed that she didn’t want to have only one because she was very lonely. She, unlike you, is very quiet, but she was lucky to have many cousins who are still like brothers to her now. I am #3 of 4, and as a kid, I despised my older 2 brothers, and always adored and got along with my “little” brother (he’s 6’2″). But now as adults, I can honestly say that I really enjoy my brothers company – all 3 of them. When it’s just the 4 of us without spouses, we laugh like I don’t ever laugh with anyone else. As a happy sidebar as well, being an only girl in a house filled with brothers gave me some very useful tools in navigating my work-a-day world that is filled mostly with men. Now, if you asked any of my 3 kids today if they’d prefer to be an only child, I’d wager that each one of them would respond with a resounding yes. Despite all of the above however, as with others above, my chosen family, my sisters by choice, are as close to me as any of my brothers and I couldn’t imagine a life without any of them.

  3. nakhira

    um, i like the family i’ve got? (brother is only blood sibling)
    I have friends who are as good as family, and Q’s the best sister I could ask for (so I don’t have to!).

    My mom’s the eldest of 5, and sometimes the family and generational dynamics would make the cousins either shake their head or their fists. Just as happy with simpler ties …

  4. Alice Haldeman

    It wasn’t so much that I wanted to be an only child instead of the middle child with a brother 3 years older and a sister 7 years younger, I really wanted to be in an entirely different family. Having the brother and sister was ok, can’t really imagine a different life without them. Since the ‘alternate family’ dream wasn’t realistic, I read books a lot and pretty much lived in my own fantasy world. (Sound familiar?) (Just like now.) I was always jealous that my brother got the room with the door to the 2nd floor porch. When it sounded like they were going to make me share my room with my sister, I took all my things up to the attic room on the 3rd floor so I could have my own little world to escape to.
    However, if my brother hadn’t introduced me to SF and fandom, where would we be? So it was ok to be in the family I was in and be the sister I was because it all worked out for the best in the end.

  5. Joe Haldeman

    At this late date it’s almost impossible to imagine what life would have been like growing up without a sib. My brother, Lore’s father, was at various times my best friend and worst enemy and everything in between. But love is real, and growing up with someone you love is like having binocular vision. It gives depth to your world.

    Unca Joe

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