Despite the personal distress and pressure to have a second baby, the number of women having an only child has more than doubled in the last two decades. What most people don't realize is that one-child families outnumber families with two children and have for more than two decades. In major metropolitan areas like New York, 30 percent of families have a singleton. Throughout the country people are following suit. And it's no wonder why:
- The worrisome biological clock (secondary infertility; older mothers)
- Downtrodden job markets
- How mothers working affects everyone in the family
- Finances and housing and costs of education
These are only the few things that parents today (and parents to be) contend with when deciding to start a family and determining whether or not to stop after one. The time is right for a book that addresses the emerging type of nuclear family, one that consists of a solo child.
Popular Psychology Today blogger and parenting author of fifteen books, including the groundbreaking Parenting an Only Child: The Joys and Challenges of Raising Your One and Only, Susan Newman, Ph.D., grew impatient with the pervasiveness of only-child folklore masquerading as fact and offers the latest findings about the long-term effects of being raised as a singleton.
In The Case for the Only Child: Your Essential Guide, Newman walks parents (and future parents) through the long list of factors working for and against them as well as highlights the many positive aspects of raising and being a singleton. The aim of this book is to ease and guide parents through the process of determining what they want. Although each situation is unique, the profound confusion surrounding having a second child is similar. It is one of the most difficult and life-altering choices parents face. Adding to one's family dramatically changes one's life and the life of one's firstborn forever. What will a person give up in time, money, freedom, intimacy, and job advancement with another child in the household? What will they gain? The Case for the Only Child helps explore and resolve these perplexing questions.
First Line: "When you thought about becoming a parent, you may have been very clear and emphatic about how many children you wanted."
Random Quote: "It's safe to strike the word shy from an only-child stereotypical label list. And, while you're at it, delete "more dependent than children with siblings" from the list as well. Family-size researcher Judith Blake found that "only children may actually be more outgoing and have more friends than kids from larger families." Siblings tend to provide protection for a reticent or dependent child who will use the sibling as a shield."
Review: I am an only child who is the parent of an only child so I was very curious to read this book. When I was growing up I knew very few only children (if I think about it, I still know very few), nonetheless, after I had my son it never occurred to me to have another. My parents always said to me, "If you get it so right the first time, why do it again?" I did get it amazingly right the first time. My son has just successfully finished his first year in college and is a very happy, smart, socially well-adjusted, and kind human being who hopes to be an elementary or middle school teacher as a way of giving back to his community. None of that is a surprise to me because that's both who he's always been and how he was raised.
I don't remember ever wanting siblings - I think that's a pretty abstract notion for small children, anyway. If I did when I was little I definitely remember being thrilled to be an only child after I started having sleepovers with friends with siblings. I'll admit that I'm often curious about it what it might be like, but purely from an intellectual standpoint. I was always very close with my parents (as is my son with his). We were a united front - all in it together.
I had and have friends. I was lucky to have been able to participate in activities outside of school - art classes, music lessons, ballet. I do remember being lonely sometimes, but I think everyone's had that sensation - siblings or not. I have always been (and remain) very independent and choosy in my personal life - choosing fewer rather than more friends - again that's part of who I am and of my personality. My son is much more social and outgoing than I am or than his father, so I'm not convinced being an only child dooms you to social ineptitude.
The qualities I think only children gain quickly are those of independence, of learning to compromise (really, friends never give you your own way all the time). I think only children also learn the luxury of picking and choosing because they know how to be alone and how to entertain themselves. I see these as positives.
|FDR - President and Only Child|
Dr. Newman clearly takes apart the stereotypes associated with only children as just that - stereotypes that turn out to be essentially untrue. We no longer live in the kind of society that loses children at such a rate that multiples are had if only to ensure someone makes it past childhood. Our children do not work our farms, or labor in our factories. We are fortunate as a society to have choices about family size and there are good reasons for choosing fewer as there are equally good reasons for having more. I don't think it's a question to torture yourself over and it is good to see an explication of that for parents who may be doing so.
I think children should be wanted and cherished by their parents. If you're able to do that with only one child, then that's what you do. If you can do that with more, then you do that. All choices have advantages and disadvantages - it's up to you to figure out the cost/benefit and then follow your heart.
If this is a question that you're dealing with in your personal life, you can't find a better book to help you think about this choice. Perhaps the best (and most difficult) thing about living at this time is that we have many choices. Knowledge increases our ability to make the right choices for ourselves and further helps us down the road to knowing our heart's desire. This is a thoughtful and worthwhile book that presents information in a clear way and affirms the right to make all kinds of choices - great book.
FTC Disclosure: Advance copy from publisher for the author's TLC Book Tour
Visit the author at www.susannewmanphd.com.
Be sure to visit the rest of the book's tour stops for more reviews and giveaways:
Susan Newman, P.h.D.’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:Wednesday, June 8th: Chaotic Compendiums
Thursday, June 9th: Life in Review
Monday, June 13th: Redheaded Book Child
Thursday, June 16th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Monday, June 20th: Life is Short. Read Fast
Tuesday, June 21st: I’m Booking It
Monday, June 27th: Helen’s Book Blog
Tuesday, June 28th: Girls Gone Reading
Thursday, June 30th: Stacy’s Books
Tuesday, July 5th: Overstuffed
Last, but definitely not least, I have three (3) copies of this book to give away. For any of you who are first-time parents, or contemplating parenthood, or just want to know more about only kids, please use the form below to enter the giveaway. US and Canada, only - no PO Boxes.