Daisy Edgar-Jones: Only-children ‘learn how to behave around adults from an early age’

Daisy Edgar-Jones is a British actress who is in the middle of one of those huge career breakouts which will likely turn her into a household name. She was in Normal People, War of the Worlds and Cold Feet, and recently in a supporting role in Under the Banner of Heaven. Next up: the film adaptation of the bestseller Where The Crawdads Sing, and the feminist horror film Fresh, with Sebastian Stan. In Crawdads, Daisy is the lead, the “swamp girl” who lives alone in the swamp. I watched the trailer and I thought they cast someone completely new, but no, she’s just British. She gives me “young Anne Hathaway” vibes, am I alone? Anyway, I enjoyed this GQ UK cover story with Daisy, she sounds interesting, hard-working and pleasantly neurotic. Some highlights:

She is an only child: She spent much of her childhood immersing herself in imaginary worlds alone, or closely observing the grown-ups around her. As an only child, she explains, “You learn how to behave around adults from an early age. Because you’re not sat at the kids’ table, you’re sat with the adults, being quiet and listening.”

Acting gave her confidence: “When I was a teenager, I really believed in myself when it came to performance – in a way that I wish I actually still had. I really was like: I know what I’m doing in this arena alone. Everything else, I don’t, really.”

She’s very empathetic: “I’m so concerned about how the other person is experiencing it that I’m not actually experiencing it myself.”

Why she liked doing ‘Fresh’: Edgar-Jones describes Fresh as “an allegory for the commodification of women” as well as for “the disposability of dating culture – that feeling of shopping for a partner.” She and [director] Cave had long conversations about how women are taught to dismiss their deepest instincts and fears in order to be polite. “We live with an awareness of threat that is just so ingrained and normal that you don’t even clock it. It’s the risk factor of dating as a woman: worrying about wanting to be open to meeting someone new, but also being so aware of the risks involved in letting somebody in.”

Trying to learn how to be less self-critical: “I’m just really self-critical and it’s boring! I’m trying not to be that way. When do you get to the stage of just being like, ‘It is what it is’? When do you get to that point? I don’t know… some people just seem to be able to do that. I’m a very needy actor, I think.” Her worry, she explains, is, “letting people down. Being the reason something is bad. Or just not doing my best.”

Men and women even look in the mirror differently: “More often than not, a man can see themselves as a whole. A woman will focus in on the tiny details, and won’t see her full face.” What does she see first when she looks in the mirror? “My mousta–” she laughs, not quite finishing the word. “No, no, no, my…” she gestures to her chin and jawline. “I used to suffer from terrible bouts of acne.”

[From British GQ]

As an only child, I can speak to what she says about learning how to behave at a young age and sitting quietly and listening. Or not listening. I have a rich inner life still, to this day, because I was an only child. I’m also able to tune people out like I’m flipping a switch because of a childhood spent around adults talking about boring sh-t. She’s also right about women not seeing their whole faces or their complete selves, because we’re too busy looking at this imperfection or that stray hair. The self-critical thing is something she’ll grow out of – she’s only 24, a lot of people are just like that in their teens and early 20s. Anyway, she seems like an interesting person. We’ll be seeing a lot more of her in the months and years to come.

Cover & IG courtesy of British GQ.

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53 Responses to “Daisy Edgar-Jones: Only-children ‘learn how to behave around adults from an early age’”

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  1. Iris says:

    I think she’s really talented! And she seems lovely. (Although I’m not sure about this eye makeup. Just me?)

    I only recently discovered who her dad is. He’s the Director of Sky Arts and Head of Entertainment at Sky and he was the creative director of Big Brother for a decade

    • BeanieBean says:

      I don’t understand any of the clothing choices they made for her in this. That last one in the lawn chair, yikes! And on the cover, what was the thinking, ‘can we pile on one more sweater somewhere?’ As for the only child stuff, I’m the middle of three–so I was the ignored middle child who also had that rich inner life because nobody paid attention to me. The downside, though, is that I didn’t know how to talk to adults until I became an adult.

  2. FancyPants says:

    Anne Hathaway has long been my imaginary girlfriend (except for when we imaginary broke up when she lost all that weight for Les Mis), so of course I think Daisy is beautiful! I hope the “Where The Crawfish Sing” movie is good though, because the other two things I’ve watched her in were terrible. [“Normal People” is nothing but soft core porn and “Fresh” was straight-up stupid, although I have had the exact same online dating interactions as the guy telling me I’d look prettier in a dress and the text exchange that starts out charming and then immediately turns into a **** pic.]

  3. Wordnerd says:

    I love hearing experiences from only children. I had my first baby in March, and am thinking he might be my only, but I’ve been curious about what it’s like to be an only child. There’s pressure to “give them a sibling” but I think we can give him a lovely, loving life without one too!

    • Moira's Rose's Garden says:

      Only child here married to an only child (for his first 13 years until his brother was adopted) and parent of an only child. I wouldn’t have it any other way. And yes, from an early age my son would find the only adult in a room full of kids to talk to no matter where we went.
      Plus given the cost of everything, I don’t think we would have been able to do for w what we did for him in terms of paying for education costs, camps, lessons, etc.

      Only negative is that there is only one person to make decisions for parents as they age.

      • Julia K says:

        When that only child marries, the new family unit makes many important decisions based on ” if we relocate for a job promotion who will be there for mom and dad? ” Turning down opportunities based on ” all they have is me” is a strain on even the best marriages.

      • SusieQ says:

        I’m also an only child, and so was my dad. It definitely gives me a different perspective on life, and I agree that you learn how to behave around adults from an early age. When we’d go visit family, I’d be scandalized when I got stuck at the kids’ table with my cousins because I was used to being with the adults. And I agree with Kaiser that it’s given me a rich inner life. It probably also amplified my introvert tendencies 😂.

        I also second that the only negative is being the only one there as parents age, especially if your parents were older to begin with like mine.

      • VespaRed says:

        So I am an only child and just took care of my mom for the last 2 years of her life. I work in long-term care. The “it’s a burden for an only child to be the only one to take care of aging parents” is bs. I was able to make decisions without having a peanut gallery second guess me. It seems like no matter how big the family, there is only one child that will step up to do the heavy lifting. I have two friends who are in that position, both with 3 other siblings. One is taking care of her mom with Alzheimer’s and was told “well you already don’t have a career because you have a son with autism” (everyone in her family are masters+ educated). She won’t even ask her siblings to watch her mom while she goes on vacation because they are so judgmental.My other friend had her 80+ year old parents move cross country and away from their other children to be near her. This friend didn’t have any children of her own and her parents did not want to “burden” their other children as they are “busy taking care of our grandchildren “.

      • MaryContrary says:

        I have one brother and he is beyond useless in dealing with our elderly parents. Don’t let that be a reason.

      • tle says:

        I really dislike the “only negative” aspect theory for singletons is being solely responsible for taking care of parents as they age. Not to be dark but there is no guarantee if you have multiple children that they will outlive you! My significant other is an example as his brother died several years ago so he is now the “only child”…also, to be realistic in many cases with families that have multiple children one child ends up taken on the burden themselves anyway. As the parent you can make necessary arrangements to help limit the burden on your child/ren as you age. There are just other better reasons to consider than this one, imo.

      • BeanieBean says:

        I’ll add my personal experience to this discussion: as one of three sibs, it was me who took care of our mom during her last year-plus of life, when she was dealing with multiple myeloma. 24/7 it was me. Parent-care frequently falls to the daughter, or the daughter-in-law, and frequently it’s just the one. And just having kids is no guarantee that ANY of them will take care of you as you get older.

      • JaneBee says:

        @JuliaK +1

    • Wilma says:

      I knew pretty soon after having my daughter that I would not be able to have another child due to health reasons. I don’t really recognize that ‘typical’ only child experience people describe. She’s very child oriented. Maybe that’s because we made a very conscious decision with the daycare we chose. Their pedagogy was very much geared towards social skills and being socialized in a group. We also live in a neighborhood with lots of kids her age that she plays with a lot. Knowing my daughter now, I am happy for her that she’s an only child. She really enjoys getting some peace and quiet after a social experience or after school and I think she has a good variety of experiences this way.

    • Hollywood is full of Ghouls! says:

      Congrats on your first birth! I was an only child, and subsequently went on to birth two kids (& have several weird dreams about having both siblings and more kids).

      It seems like both only childs and siblings can achieve self-actualization.

      I am having a bit of a tug with my spouse who comes from a big family, in that I feel more of a pull to advocate for the kids’ independence from time to time.

    • GA says:

      I hear all the comments on “don’t worry about the only kid looking after the ageing parents” and I generally agree with that but want to offer another perspective.

      As an only child who lost my father as a young adult to cancer, it was HARD. I was his carer whilst he went through treatment as I had just finished college and my mother had to work in another country as her health insurance was funding his chemo. I had no clue what was happening and although an adult, totally lost and naive. It was the second worst year of my life as the only one looking after him and having no one to talk to (and not knowing how to ask for help). The year after he died was the worst year as I felt totally alone. My father was beloved by all but I couldn’t bring myself to open up to anyone because I felt that no one knew him the way I did, no one else lost their father when he died. I spiralled down and spent many nights with many awful men so I wouldn’t be left alone with my thoughts and needed an intervention after 6 months from some dear friends.

      TLDR; my mom was adamant she always wanted 1 kid but after my dad she said she regretted it as she didn’t realise how hard things were going to be for me. I wouldn’t change my life for anything and always loved being an only child but just wanted to share as those events were the hardest things I’ve had to go through and being an only child really just added to that sense of loneliness and loss. I always only wanted 1 kid as well growing up but the only thing that makes me hesitate is that I don’t want my kid going through the same thing which I went through a few years ago.

      • JaneBee says:

        @GA Thank you for sharing this experience. That must have been insanely difficult and heartbreaking as a young adult 😢 The US healthcare situation is so incredibly screwed up🙄 I hope you were able to access some good therapy and heal afterwards ❤️

    • geekish1 says:

      I am also an only child. Yes, I learned to be self-sufficient and independent and I did develop a rich inner life. However, my “family” was dysfunctional–my father was an alcoholic and my mother worked all the time to support us, as my father couldn’t hold a job. I wished my entire childhood for a sibling with whom I could share the burden but one never appeared. I guess if you’re certain you and your spouse can be sure you’ll be able to give your singlet a stable upbringing, go for it. But if there are any cracks in your relationship, better to not have any, than only one child.

  4. SarahCS says:

    Another only child here and I completely agree with what’s being said here, I absolutely went off to my own worlds, and still do.

    The downside was that we lived on a boat from age 4-6 and I had very little company from other children as we moved around (mostly South America and the Caribbean) which did impact my social skills. I’ve largely caught up (as with reading, I didn’t learn until I was 7) and I’m not sure how much of that is just my character (my father is a raging narcissist) but although I’m very much an extravert I’m not always the best with other people.

  5. Helen says:

    “The self-critical thing is something she’ll grow out of – she’s only 24, a lot of people are just like that in their teens and early 20s.”

    Eeeeh, I’m 40 and I’ve only become MORE self-critical as I age. :/ Maybe it’s different when you’re famous, attractive and successful.

    • BeanieBean says:

      I immediately thought of all those really rich women who look in the mirror, focus on one tiny thing, and go to a surgeon to ‘fix’ it. Some of us let go of the self-criticism, some don’t. It can take years, and it can take therapy, but it can happen; and then for others, they never let go of the self-criticism.

  6. Southern Fried says:

    That’s funny about the ability to tune other people out like flipping a switch. I have the same ability and always believed it was from having 4 siblings lol. We had many cousins in and out like staying for most the summer and we’re still so close that all our kids are also good friends with each other. I can’t imagine being an only child, like where’s my posse, how could I ever get through life without them?

  7. Belspethen says:

    I’m seeing a Charlotte Gainsbourg/Hathaway mashup.

  8. Athena says:

    I’m also an only child, stuck between aged parents and kids in their early twenties, it’s a suffocating place to be.. I do agree with what she said about the time spent listening to adult conversation.

  9. butterflystella says:

    I’m a horror/gore fan and I hated Fresh! Awful movie IMHO.

  10. Kkat says:

    I have 3 sisters and 2 out of the three don’t suck lol

    Besides there being more of you to take care of parents, we’re getting there, I’m 53 and the oldest
    You also are hopefully close to your siblings and there will be someone there with you as you age.

    I have 2 boys, 17 and 26, and they are peers and friends now. Same interests, hobbies ect.
    I’m less worried knowing they have each other.

  11. Mika says:

    I think only child parents and only children get the wrong idea when it comes to only child… hesitancy. No one thinks you won’t love your kid if you don’t give them a sibling – in fact we think you love them more. And a lot of only children expect that level of special attention from everyone. Which is what children who grow up with siblings find off-putting.

    • Powercouple says:

      Give me a break.

      Lots of people who have brothers and sisters don’t stop talking, want to be special and want a lot of attention. It has nothing to do with being an only child.

    • E says:

      @mika this is a bad take and wrong.

    • Anna says:

      I find children from big families off putting because they act everywhere like they have to fight for survival.. young kids fighting for best toy available and attention. I find oldest children off putting because they think they are always oldest and know best. I also find the youngest in families off putting because the always act like a little spoiled babies. Nice stereotypes, right? People are who they are, they have personalities and are shaped by family, society and what they’ve experienced. I hate this „only child” talk.

  12. Jaded says:

    Mr. Jaded’s daughter is an only child and was very spoiled growing up. Although she’s a lovely, smart woman with a great career, I can see *only child* behaviour in her still (very stubborn, has to have her own way, occasionally has a tantrum if contradicted). Her 10 year old only-child daughter often does not behave well around adults because she too is spoiled and always has to be the centre of attention. She’s a bright, curious and confident kid but the last time we saw them this past June she was verging on obnoxious — constantly interrupting, ignoring requests to stop horse-assing around, photo-bombing, too much *look at MEEEEEE* stuff. Hopefully she’ll grow out of it.

    • Julia K says:

      @Jaded; I wouldn’t waste my time waiting for her to outgrow anything but clothes and shoes. At the age of 10 you’re getting a preview of her adult self.

      • Jaded says:

        Oh great…her mom and dad are in for a wild ride when she hits her teens methinks.

    • E says:

      @jaded that behavior comes from the fact that she was spoiled, not because she was an only child. Maybe you should have a word with the person who raised her…like, you know, her father, your husband.

      @juliak weird comment, kids change and grow.

      • Julia K says:

        @E; my 21 yr old grandson is the same now as he was at 10, just a larger stubborn,entitled man child prone to temper tantrums.

      • E says:

        @juliak so, one kid exhibited little growth or maturity; that’s hardly the norm, that’s a result of his upbringing . You might consider evaluating his parents/your son/daughter’s role in raising him (and by, extension, yours in raising your son/daughter).

      • Jaded says:

        @E – where did I say it was my partner who spoiled her? Her mother was likely the worst spoiler. Furthermore, I did say she is very smart, has a great career and is a kind, warm person. I do see traits of being too cossetted but it’s not my place to “have a word” with her dad. In any event he’s sat her down and done corrective action several times over the 7 years we’ve been together. I’ve seen only children who have NOT been spoiled by their parents turn out wonderfully well, others not well at all. A big part is the personality of individual children. It’s not all nurture, nature has a hand in it too.

    • Joec says:

      I’ve met plenty of children with siblings behaving like you describe your step-granddaughter, so I don’t think that behavior’s limited to being an only child.

  13. P says:

    Only child here! I mostly agree with what Daisy is saying here. I don’t think it generally impacts children’s social skills. I think people are people, no matter how many siblings they have. I’m a shy introvert only child and I like to keep a small, tight-knit friend group, but I’ve met only children who were social butterflies, so again, I think just because an only kid is good at speaking to adults doesn’t say sh-t about most of their personality. Also, I’m a paralegal now and I do a lot of talking every day to a lot of different types of people, so hopefully I can burst some shy introvert stereotypes too.

    I also want to say that stereotyping only children as weird and awkward (especially as children!) is just a really sh-tty thing to do to people. All kids are weird and all humans are occasionally awkward! Give kids a chance to figure things out for themselves. They really will be just fine! And if they need support, it’s not because they’re only children. (If anyone says that to you, walk away.) Humans just need support from each other in various ways throughout life!

    • Wilma says:

      Beautifully said!

      • E says:

        Agreed, well put. There is also some weird trends in these comments. Like you said, people seem to feel free to stereotype only children and people discuss the “negatives” of having one child…I don’t see that same discussion happening with multi-child families. It’s weird. Also, the fact that there is more than person in the comments complaining about spoiled people when they raised them/raised their parents/married to someone who raised them is hilarious. Who do they think allowed that behavior? Parents are the ones who create spoiled children, the behavior is learned and/or tolerated; it has nothing to do with someone being an only child.

    • Joec says:

      Thanks for your wonderful points. Personally, I think it’s worse when people claim only children are bratty. I’m an only child, and I admit that I’m a bit awkward, but I think I could have been that with siblings as well 😉 As a quiet and soft kid sometimes pushed around by kids with siblings it felt unfair that people would assume the “brat” stereotype to only children.

      • Lexistential says:

        As a second-born child, I admit, I have my share of jealousy to only-children. I fully admit to expressing my jealousy as snotty “only children are bratty” because I competed with a golden older brother (while also having a younger sister and baby brother), so I always envied the attention only children got from parents– if they cried, they got soothed and spoken to like they really mattered. So my brat perception totally came from a perception of privilege, and is a jealousy towards more mindful parenting.

        (Thus, perhaps those comments came from other children who are not only children.)

    • Skye says:

      @P – Yours is the best comment on this topic IMO. As an alternate perspective supporting your point,, I am the oldest of many siblings and am quite introverted and have always had a very rich inner life. Unlike only children, it was because I rarely felt I had a moment to myself and craved that, so had to create them. As a teenager, I would actually save up things to think about when in group settings, church, etc. so I could more easily zone out. Also probably one reason I became such a voracious reader – harder for anyone to criticize me going off to my room or the corner if I was reading, haha. I was also quite competent interacting with adults, lol. As P eloquently explains, we’re all different and weird.

  14. Fender says:

    I have no interest in her mediocre, nepotism baby career (her daddy is a big time boss at SKY tv).

  15. Well Wisher says:

    The comment about being the only child around adults is true. I was raised as an only child in an inter-generational household, with a great interior life.
    One is exposed to good and proper decorum, boundaries ala manners, style, music and story telling. That wisdom is still being used today.
    An excellent observation.

  16. Well Wisher says:

    I must add how much I enjoyed Normal People.

  17. Well Wisher says:


  18. Candy says:

    She is very willowy, reminds me of Natalie Dyer. I thought Normal People was so annoying and unnecessarily dark. But she is a good actor!

  19. SW says:

    ‘Fresh’ is already out, available on HULU. It was released ahead of ‘Deep Water’ with Ben Affleck & Ana de Armas on HULU (not that those films are related, but I suspect people are more likely to remember the ‘Deep Water’ release.)

  20. Normades says:

    I am an only child and my child is too. She adapts easily to new situations and people since as we only have one kid it was easy to take her with us everywhere. Restaurants, parties etc…. we hardly ever got a sitter. She has also traveled extensively with us and does great in planes and trains. If we had multiple children we wouldn’t have been as mobile. That said I would have gladly welcomed a second child, but it just never happened.

  21. Normades says:

    I think it’s pretty fascinating how birth order can affect your personality. I am an only and most of my friends are oldest children. Also every single boyfriend I’ve ever had has been the oldest child in their family to non-divorced parents. As mine divorced when I was young I think I always subconsciously searched for that ideal family unit. Also I am attracted to men who are confident and assertive which oldest children tend to be.