All parents with one child get asked one question more than
any other: Are you going to have more kids?
Those who say “no” are often judged: Wouldn’t your poor only
child be better off with a sibling to keep her company? Aren’t only children
spoiled, antisocial, maladjusted?
This month, journalist Lauren Sandler published a new
book arguing that the answer is a resounding 'no.' Her conclusion is based not
only on scientific research, but also on the fact that the author grew up an only
child and has only one child, herself—an apparently happy 5-year-old girl.
“I’m an only child with an only
child of my own,” she says on her website. “I’ve found that
discussing the choice to stop at one kid is as loaded with anxiety, doubt,
judgment and misinformation as any conversation I’ve had. I got the anxiety,
but the judgment seemed a little nuts. So I spent a couple of years
investigating who only children really are, whether stopping at one kid is an
answer to the question of how to reconcile motherhood and modernity, and what
more of us might mean for the world. I learned a lot about myself, and I
learned a lot about our assumptions.”
Sandler then lays out copious scientific
evidence that debunk the “only child” stereotypes. For instance, only kids test
better than those with siblings on traits like generosity and sociability.
Teachers find fewer “nervous symptoms” with onlies than with students with siblings.
All of which is to say: Stop vilifying parents of only kids, all right?