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Only Children Are Fine, Argues New Book

Family breakfast fun
Photograph by Getty Images

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?

Photo via Laurensandler.com

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