10 Nigerians Talk About Being An Only Child

March 2, 2021

Being a child in a Nigerian family can be difficult enough as it is, but what happened when you have no siblings and you’re the only one? These ten Nigerians share what it’s like being an only child.

Amaka, 24

It can be really boring, stifling and hectic all at the same time. Being an only child who is a girl is terrible. My mom is a staunch African woman so she is steadily on my neck. The period after I graduated from secondary school was a horror movie for me. It’s not really fun being an only child in my house. I can’t talk to my parents about anything personal because my dad won’t know how to react to it and my mom will find a way to blame you, even if you were hurt. I really wish I had elder siblings but I am glad I have friends that fill that void for me.

Funke, 18

People usually ask if it’s boring, but it really wasn’t for me. My parents are my best friends so it didn’t seem much like being alone. I’m spoiled in all the contexts that Nigerians would speak on. My parents never hit me, and I also technically get everything I want within reasonable measure. I don’t consider it being spoilt, I just see it as my parents and I having a mutual respect and understanding. They’re my friends. I feel like siblings would mess up the dynamic my parents and I have. It’s a little selfish, but I’m not interested in sharing my best friends.

Jadesola, 19

Generally, life as an only child is great. I can’t complain at all. I have great parents and our relationship is fantastic. So all in all, I’m having a good time. Sometimes, however, it gets a little lonely. You want to have someone that you can talk to about other family members. That’s one of the reasons I wish I had a sibling. So I could have someone to share my feelings with, share my concern about something going on within the (extended) family, or other stuff like that. Other times I didn’t. I have great friends who I can talk to about anything and I’ve learned to work through my feelings by myself. So I’ve never really 100 percent wanted a sibling. I’ve never been fully averse to the idea either.

Bola, 22

I’m spoilt in every way you can think of. As old as I am, if I tell my mum that I can’t make breakfast, she won’t complain or shout. I didn’t have to share my parents’ affection or money, or fight over remote control with anyone. I get what I want, whenever I want it. My parents never say “no” to me.

At a point, I got lonely, but I found ways to keep myself company. I still don’t know how I turned out as an extrovert. The downside of being the only child is that my parents are overprotective and I can’t be a black sheep in peace. Sometimes, I want to wild out in peace without thinking of home training. Also, when the parents are arguing, you can’t pick a side. If my mother tells me she’s pregnant now, I’ll be so happy. At least they’d have someone to dot on instead of asking me to give them a grandchild.

Sandra, 18

Being an only child means you can’t relate to having siblings when your mates are talking about their brothers and sisters. I think there’s a freedom with having siblings. As an only child, you’re the only “hope” of your parents. You can’t do whatever you want because all the time and attention your parents have is spent on you. They scrutinize all you do and sometimes you just want breathing space.

Anita, 22

Being an only child sucks. There’s no skill my mother has not tried to make me learn, or forced me to learn. An instrument, a sport, tailoring, cooking school, etc. She knew it was going to be just me, so she really tried to project all she wishes she had done on me. Besides that, I feel like being an only child has kind of shaped the way I interact with people. I don’t do well when people are in my space because I’ve never really had to share it. I’m so used to having my space. She’s also been super protective, never really allowing me to go out and spend time with friends. I was really naive for the longest time cause I wasn’t exposed. A lot of things that my friends would learn from their older siblings, I didn’t.

I always wanted a little sister. When my mother told me she was considering adopting, it was probably the happiest moment of my life. It ended up not happening, and what was left was a very lonely childhood. Especially because my mother was so alienating.

David, 25

When I was younger, it was heaven because I got anything and everything I wanted. When you grow up however, you’re all alone and a little bit selfish. It’s just because you’re used to being alone.

Anna, 21

It’s so much damn pressure being an only child. You’re basically an extension of your parents and their only “jewel” instead of an actual human being. There’s no room for messing up because you’re “their only option”. There’s just so much helicoptering, overprotectiveness and codependence. People get the impression that you’re spoiled (which isn’t entirely a lie), but that comes at the cost of not having a childhood. You’ll get punished for doing thing other kids get away with because and can’t even decide to rebel and move mad because there’s no one else for them to pour their hope and dreams into.

I never wanted siblings because I’m a super independent introvert. I can’t imagine having to deal with the existence of another human being in my space, so that’s the upside to being the only one. Plus I know my parents wouldn’t have been able to afford two of me. I got to go to great schools and start life with no black tax. Smart family planning if we’re being honest.

Kunle, 20

I can’t ride a bicycle because my mother was afraid I’d scar myself, and I wasn’t allowed to play football for the same reason. I wasn’t allowed to have a pet dog and I even developed a phobia for them in the process. My parents made sure I was heavily sheltered. None of this are an issue to me anymore, but the real problem is how I feel like there’s a ticking time bomb to be the child my parents want me to be. I can’t achieve it because I have intense imposter syndrome, and also because I have no idea what to do with my life. My mother wants me to get married and have children and I can’t even do that because I’m gay.

Timi, 17

For me, it’s both good and bad. Bad because everyone thinks you have your ‘own space’ which is wrong. I’m being raised by a single mother so the focus is always on me. What I do, spend, the friends I make, studies, everything, and it can be overwhelming. There’s this pressure that I put on myself to do my best and excel because I am the only one.

As of now, my mother complains everyday about one thing or the other, mostly because I forget basic things a lot and I can’t handle people. If I had younger siblings, I would’ve been very irresponsible plus, little children scare me most times. Having older siblings would’ve been better because I do relate more with people older than me, but that would mean my mother would have someone to compare me to everytime. Being in my own space is everything to me.

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Itohan Esekheigbe

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