I recently read two interesting takes on having only one child, which is a subject that always catches my attention as it is weighing heavy on my mind in terms of my own family planning.
The first was from The New York Times - Only Children. Lonely and Selfish? There was a lot of interesting research in the article.
The differences between only children and those raised with siblings tend to be positive ones. Ms. Falbo and Ms. Polit examined hundreds of studies in the 1980s and found that only children had demonstrably higher intelligence and achievement; only children have also been found to have more self-esteem. These findings, which have been confirmed repeatedly in recent years, hold true regardless of whether parents of only children stayed together and regardless of economic class.
Researchers like the sociologist Judith Blake believe these qualities result from the fact that parents who have just one child are able to devote more resources — time, money and attention — to them than parents who have to divide resources among more children.
And the other article was on Huffington Post - Only Child Myths.
Lots to think about! Any only children out there want to weigh in?
My best friend is an only child. She is very sweet and we have known each other since the 2nd grade. I never thought she was selfish or maladjusted. However, I will say she was not the smartest girl (still isn't). I have found that to be true of most of the only children I know. I think that something the only children I know missed out on was a lot of intelligent interaction between siblings. My siblings and I would play school all the time, read books to each other, and do science experiments we would make up together. I think that only children can really miss out on those experiences that help you grow (I graduated from a trade school, my sister is a Stanford graduate and has her masters, my brother is a college graduate). I think that if you are willing to commit the time to make sure your child doesn't miss out on these experiences they should be just fine. I just think it takes a lot more effort on the parents part when the child doesn't have siblings. There is a definite gap that needs to be filled.
I was an only child until my parents started taking in displaced cousins out of a sense of familial guilt. Two of them ended up being adopted by my mom when I was a teenager. We weren't close, so I didn't really get any sibling benefits. I had some sibling downsides from the division of resources, but it was mitigated by me being a relatively low-resource kid inherently and by my mom granting me more than my fair share of the resources. I tend to still think of myself as an only child. I've finally trained myself to refer to my adopted siblings as siblings, but they still call me their cousin.
While I'm fairly maladjusted, I'm never lonely (certainly not as a kid) and I don't think I'm particularly selfish either. I also did well in school and got a bachelor's degree with hardly any academic effort, if you're worried about book-smarts. (I did solitary "smart" activities as a kid, like reading articles, reading novels, trying to write novels, researching how to write novels and draw, tried to teach myself Japanese off the internet and made decent progress considering, etc.)
I was an only and I hated it, until high school when I realized how messed up my family was, and that it was probably better that none of my parents had any more children. As a youngin though I was always lonely & bored, but then I had a narcissistic mom who rarely spent quality time with me. That's not to say I wasn't creative or actively seeking out ways to have fun or otherwise occupy my time, though. I definitely would not say that being an only had any impact on my intelligence level. I did well in school and read books constantly. As for being selfish...I think that's a misnomer for me as well. If anything I tried to be as invisible & low needs as possible growing up...
The other thing that parents of only's don't consider is the topic of caring for elderly parents. As an only I'm the sole proprietor in that endeavor and I don't look forward to it.
Personally I hope to have at least 2 children if not more...
I have mixed feelings about only children. I was an only until I was 7 1/2..
I don't buy into only children are selfish or maladjusted stuff (that sounds like a combination of temperament and parenting and I don't think parents who choose to have one child are inherently somehow selfish or maladjusted themselves) however lonely? Makes me pause for thought.
In my brief experience... I didn't realize the connotations of being an only when we lived in a neighborhood with lots of other kids to play with. When my sister came along however... We moved to a neighborhood with no other kids and I became acutely aware of how lonely it was not to have anyone to play with (even though I had a sibling she was much too young to play with)
I think as a result of that experience I am more aware then is perhaps necessary (lol fixated) on what sort of family I want to have and the potential impacts of the different choices.
However having thought about it. Siblings don't guard against loneliness and come with their own set of problems. Having more then one child needs to be balanced against the idea that subsequent children (siblings) are not the same thing as friends. I think most people when they think about having another child give a point in favor of another because their first born will have a companion and supposedly that wards off against loneliness. I think they should actually take a point off because having another child could be diverting attention and resources away from the first born potentially harming them.
Maybe its a wash?
The Sandler book looks interesting.
lots of interesting info on Sandler's book. I hope I got my hands on it when starting a family. I have 4 of my own and gosh I have barely not enough time for myself...
I love this words from Sandler's: To have a happy kid, she [Sandler’s mother] figured she needed to be a happy mother, and to be a happy mother, she needed to be a happy person. To do that, she had to preserve her authentic self, which she could not imagine doing with a second child.”