Many factors act to strengthen or dilute the characteristics of any birth position, and one of the most important is the parents' relationship.
• They can easily feel suffocated by relationships. Naturally, only children share many of the characteristics ascribed to first-born children. The main difference is that they never experienced being displaced by a new arrival, and the pang of jealousy that can accompany that.
Life without siblings can also mean that only children will take disagreements very personally.
They haven't learnt in the normal daily run of things that it's possible to be furious with someone in the morning and best friends again in the afternoon.
Growing up, only children haven't had to take turns for the shower or the right to choose television programs, so they can be impatient - explosive even - when things don't go their way.
They're also not great with surprises and sudden changes of plan.
Only children seem to have an even stronger need for recognition than other first-borns, which comes from wanting to please their parents so much.For some, this need will never be satisfactorily filled.They can be quite hard on themselves, and this can be frustrating for loved ones who want them to be happy with what they have.Suddenly there's no one who shares their memories of significant episodes in their early family life, and this is a lonely place.If you're married to an only child who is experiencing this, be gentle.One of the greatest difficulties for only children comes later in life, when they have to care for their ageing parents with no one else who can share the emotional and physical burden in quite the same way.