have this amazing friend who is basically a single mama superhero. She is
stunning (in the kind of shape I have never in my entire life been in),
successful in her career, completely committed to parenting and always jetting
off on some new adventure or another with her sidekick—a little girl who is
full of her mama's spunk and energy.
am not kidding you when I say I look at this mama some days and wonder how in
the heck she does it all.
recently she posted something on Facebook that struck me. It was about the
numerous comments she gets regarding how her daughter "needs" a sibling, and
how rude, presumptuous and downright out-of-line those comments are.
I read her post, I thought to myself, "You go, Mama!"
the record, I have always wanted a large family. The idea of having an only
never really crossed my mind, until I dealt with infertility,
enduring singledom (I think they used to call it "spinsterhood") and the
realization that my daughter (adopted in the most serendipitous of ways) and I
have a pretty damn good life together. If it is only ever just the two of us,
both she and I will be just fine.
doesn't need a sibling any more than I
need another child. Which is to say,
it would be nice—and I certainly remain open to the possibility—but I also see
the beauty ahead in the life I could create for us if it is only ever just her
You know what kids need? Love, support, guidance, food, shelter and maybe a little more love. But a sibling?
think people mean well enough when they comment on the need for a sibling.
Nobody intends any harm; they are simply remembering back to their own
childhoods, to the fun they had with their siblings, or the loneliness they may
have felt as only children themselves. Plus, we all know the stereotypes surrounding
only children, and I have certainly known an only child or two myself who has
lived up to those stereotypes.
what people forget is that those really are just stereotypes. The recent
research points to the fact that only children are not
nearly as lonely as we've been led to believe, and
that they actually fare better than kids with siblings in some areas, including academic
pursuits. And, as long as we're talking in anecdotes,
I've also known only children in my past who in no way lived up to the
stereotypes attributed to them; they were kind, generous, loving people who were raised
by parents that worked hard to mold them as such.
or not a child has a sibling is not the defining factor for the type of person
they will become, and no child needs a
sibling. You know what kids need? Love, support, guidance, food, shelter and maybe
a little more love. But a sibling? That's about as crucial to development as a
puppy—sure, lessons can be gained from the added responsibility, but it
certainly isn't the only way to grow into a responsible adult.
if I am ever blessed with another child, I have no doubt my daughter will
benefit from having a little brother or sister to grow up alongside. But she's
not going to grow into a spoiled, selfish person without one—which, let's be
honest, is the underlying implication whenever anyone suggests that a child needs that brother or sister.
about instead of commenting on the size of other people's families, or when/if
they should add on to those families, we instead make a solemn vow to recognize
that it's none of our business. Not only because you have no idea what another
family has dealt with (infertility, loss or struggles in their romantic
relationship that make adding on seem like a bad idea) but also because no
child needs a sibling. And asserting
that they do is just kind of an asshole thing to say.
be an asshole. Just don't comment on another person's family. Because you don't
know the whole story, and your compilation of anecdotal evidence does not make
you an expert on what any child might need.
thing I can say for sure? My friend's little girl is going to be just fine if
she is forever an only child. Mostly because she has a superhero for a mama. One who
works hard, every single day, to make sure she has everything she needs—and so much more.