The only daughter, never a princess | Inquirer Opinion

The only daughter, never a princess

You must be a princess at home!

They say I must be used to getting everything I want—spoiled and overprotected. They say I must be the favorite child—always prioritized.


To all that: No. I am not the stereotypical princess who receives all the praise and attention from her parents. I am never pampered, never getting a little more on Christmas, and never coddled. I never get everything that I want—never the favorite child.

I am not a princess, I am just the only daughter.


Growing up as the only daughter in a household, having two older brothers and a younger one, I felt isolated. My brothers only play among themselves and I have no sisters to exchange clothes with. My brothers enjoy sports that they can’t do with me and I have no sisters to chatter with.

But the burden isn’t just about that.

Growing up as the only daughter in a household, I feel as if I’m going through a tough battle where I am doomed to fall. While my parents could be fair instead of making me feel small, their actions only make me feel more like an afterthought. My parents never dote on me. It seems like I always have to compete to get their affection—not because my brothers are always needing so much attention but because I am just that lone daughter who for them would never win in any situation.

Such dynamics get to me—tugging all of my heartstrings.

While they know that I am not a misfire or a flop—consistently doing pretty well in class, bagging golds and grants—it didn’t change anything. It didn’t make them treat me any differently from the boys, or at least better. It squeezes my heart to realize that whether I achieve or reach something, it is their praises that I can’t steal. But, if it’s my brother’s triumph, I’ll see them smile and clap for real. These experiences ignited a fuse in my mind: I know it isn’t for me to compete with my brothers but rather to challenge the girl that confronts me in the mirror—summoning me to be better every day.

Wouldn’t that feel like you’re always trying to prove to them a thing?

I don’t bother. I will only keep on striving and whirling if it is what would crystallize their clouded vision toward me, their only daughter who has been vying for their affection through the years.


More than pent-up anger, there’s a pent-up longing in my heart—longing for a hug that would heal the people-pleaser side I unconsciously engendered and longing for a hand that would genuinely tap my back for all those times I was and will be neglected.

Most of all, not a day has passed that I didn’t long for a sister, a companion, and a household that would make me feel good enough—parents that wouldn’t make me die inside.

But, as a limitless dainty little girl—yes, I call myself that because if not me, who else would?—I handle my own, unapologetically doing everything alone. How I hope they would be proud of me once they learn everything I have endured, even if they are the impetus for it. They must be proud of the kind of resilience I’ve learned, even if I did it with doubts, scars, and grief.

I am in no way generalizing the dynamics that every “only daughter” in a family has to go through, we all have different experiences growing up. Some are bitter and some are like a dream—the latter is what I didn’t have. I am an “only daughter” who was just treated like a child who just happened to be the only girl in the family.

You must be a princess at home!

I am not. I’m aware and I fully understand.

Yet, as I look outside my bedroom window, listening to gloomy love songs, I can’t help but wonder: Am I really missing out on the so-called “princess treatment” that I’m supposed to have?

Shane Liway Ranjo Eligado, 20, is a sophomore communication student at the University of the Philippines Baguio. As an only daughter, she has a good time sitting with herself to think, imagine, read, and dream of becoming a writer.

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