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One and Done: The Case For Having Only One Child.

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Interesting enough. Was reading this here at home in this week's TIME and thought I'd post the web version here...

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http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2002382,00.html

The following is an abridged version of an article that appears in the July 19, 2010 print and iPad editions of TIME magazine.

It's a conversation I have most weeks — if not most days. This time, it happens when my 2-year-old daughter and I are buying milk at the supermarket. The cashiers fawn over her pink cheeks, and then I endure the usual dialogue.

"Your first?"

"Yup."

"Another one coming soon?"

"Nope — it might be just this one."

"You'll have more. You'll see."

I offer no retort, but if I did, I'd start by asking these young minimum-wage earners to consider the following: The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that the average child in the U.S. costs his or her parents about $286,050 — before college. Those costs have risen during the recession. It's a marvel to me these days that anyone can manage a second kid — forget about a third.

Since I celebrated my 35th birthday, I have to ask myself not when, but if. "The recession has dramatically reshaped women's childbearing desires," says Larry Finer, the director of domestic policy at the Guttmacher Institute, a leading ­reproductive-health-research organization. The institute found that 64% of women polled said that with the economy the way it is, they couldn't afford to have a baby now. Forty-four percent said they plan to reduce or delay their childbearing — again, because of the economy. This happens during financial meltdowns: the Great Depression saw single-child families spike at 23%. Since the early '60s, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, single-child families have almost doubled in number, to about 1 in 5 — and that's from before the markets crashed.

The entrenched aversion to stopping at one mainly amounts to a century-old ­public-relations issue. Single children are perceived as spoiled, selfish, solitary misfits. No parents want that for their kid. Since the 1970s, however, studies devoted to understanding the personality characteristics of only children have debunked that idea. I, for one, was happy without siblings. A few ex-boyfriends aside, people seem to think I turned out just fine. So why do we still worry that there's something wrong with just one?

The Lonely Only?

The image of the lonely only was the work of one man, Granville Stanley Hall. About 120 years ago, Hall established one of the first American psychology-research labs. But what he is most known for today is supervising the 1896 study "Of Peculiar and Exceptional Children," which described a series of only-child oddballs as permanent misfits. For decades, academics and advice columnists alike disseminated his conclusion that an only child could not be expected to go through life with the same capacity for adjustment that children with siblings possessed.

No one has done more to disprove Hall's stereotype than Toni Falbo, a professor of educational psychology and sociology at the University of Texas at Austin. Falbo began investigating the only-child experience in the 1970s, both in the U.S. and in China, drawing on the experience of tens of thousands of subjects. Twenty-five years ago, she and colleague Denise Polit conducted a meta-analysis of 115 studies of only children from 1925 onward that considered developmental outcomes of adjustment, character, sociability, achievement and intelligence. Generally, those studies showed that singletons aren't measurably different from

other kids — except that they, along with firstborns and people who have only one sibling, score higher in measures of intelligence and achievement. Of course, part of the reason we assume only children are spoiled is that whatever parents have to give, the only child gets it all. The argument Judith Blake makes in Family Size and Achievement as to why onlies are higher achievers across socioeconomic lines can be stated simply: there's no "dilution of resources," as she terms it, between siblings. No matter their income or occupation, parents of only children have more time, energy and money to invest in their kid.

But in that case, is there truth to the stereotype that they're overindulged? In Austin, I seek out psychologist Carl Pickhardt, who tells me, "There's no question that only children are highly indulged and highly protected." But that doesn't mean the stereotype is true, he says. "You've been given more attention and nurturing to develop yourself. But that's not the same thing as being selfish. On balance, that level of parental involvement is a good thing. All that attention is the energy for your self-esteem and achievement." But, he adds, "everything is double-edged. And everything is formative."

Will It Make Us Happier?

As parents, we tend to ask ourselves two questions when we talk about having more children. First, will it make our kid happier? And then, will it make us happier? A 2007 survey found that at a rate of 3 to 1, people believe the main purpose of marriage is the "mutual happiness and fulfillment" of adults rather than the "bearing and raising of children." There must be some balance between the joy our kids give us and the sacrifices we make to care for them.

"Most people are saying, I can't divide myself anymore," says social psychologist Susan Newman. Before technology made the office a 24-hour presence, we actually spent less time actively parenting, she explains. "We no longer send a child out to play for three hours and have those three hours to ourselves," she says. "Now you take them to the next practice, the next class. We've been consumed by our children. But we're moving back slowly to parents wanting to have a life too. And people are realizing that's simply easier with one."

As I enter what my obstetrician calls advanced maternal age, it's a choice my husband and I need to make soon. How we determine our happiness and our daughter's will be based on the love we feel for her and the realities — both joyful and trying — of what a larger family would mean.

If we end up having no other children, we'll have to be mindful to raise her to be part of something bigger than just us three. But must we share DNA to do that? As Newman tells me, "What really changes, the fewer siblings we have, is how we define family." I've been part of this redefinition all my life, casting cousins and friends as ersatz siblings since I was a child. For now, my kid is happy enough to dance down supermarket aisles by herself or with her friends and cousins. And with her, sometimes, I do too.


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It could be said that we ought to accept what G-d gives us, and that financial considerations (although there) are secondary.

Only-childhood can be a boon when one is young, but that changes considerably in later years, particularly when the parents age or one dies.

My wife (eldest of five) stated that she used to dream of being an only child, but now that she sees the truth of it, she's changed her mind about it.


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Thanks for posting this. I've come to terms with having only one, but occasionally, I agonize over it. I'm 1 of 8 and, besides me, only my youngest brother has only 1 and he's just getting started. It's this sort of article that helps me feel better about it.

The first part focusing on costs is not a reason to stop at one, I believe, but the other parts debunking why it is better to have more than one are helpful.

For me, it's not a choice. It's what happened. However, I've rationalize it as being a good thing. Of course, if I'd ended up with more than one, I'd think that was a good thing as well, but I'm happy with my only child. I certainly have a different relationship with her being my only child than I would have if she had a sibling. That's good and bad, but mostly good in my pov.


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Financially for the family one child makes sense. On a national level it will cause problems.

As the baby boomers and Gen-X's continue to get older and retire, the younger and fewer

later generations will not be able to support the system.


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_____________________________________________________________________________
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Financially for the family one child makes sense. On a national level it will cause problems.

As the baby boomers and Gen-X's continue to get older and retire, the younger and fewer

later generations will not be able to support the system.

True! And then there are the social issues as well. It wouldn't be as much of an issue in the US and Europe as it is in places like China where children are expected to take a more active role in the care of their parents - 1 child = 2 parents and 4 grandparents; 1 couple = 4 parents and 8 grandparents. But even I worry about my daughter having to bear the burden alone if I become incapacitated, and that she'll have no one to share the grief with when I pass.

And imagine an entire nation of only children - 1 child has 4 grandparents with no other grandchildren, and possibly 8 great-grandparents with no other great-grandchildren. China is facing this now.


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4/14/10 - Packet received at Chicago Lockbox at 9:22 AM (Day 1)

4/24/10 - Received hardcopy NOAs (Day 10)

5/14/10 - Biometrics taken. (Day 31)

5/29/10 - Interview letter received 6/30 at 10:30 (Day 46)

6/30/10 - Interview: 10:30 (Day 77) APPROVED!!!

6/30/10 - EAD received in the mail

7/19/10 - GC in hand! (Day 96) .

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How about zero? :devil:

Seriously, on an ethical level I'm not sure I could even bring one person into this world.

Leave it to Sous Dude to rain on the parade.

What if your parents said Zero. This discussion would never take place.

Maybe a couple kids would soften your heart.

$10K a year average per kid for continuous entertainment and joy is pretty cheap pro-rated.

:star:


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Financially for the family one child makes sense. On a national level it will cause problems.

As the baby boomers and Gen-X's continue to get older and retire, the younger and fewer

later generations will not be able to support the system.

It can if the drop in growth in future generations is quite significantly less than what it has been in the past. It has happened, the echo boom generation after the baby boomers, has been significantly smaller. But on the other hand, technology has enabled fewer people to care for the elderly in our society.

But as far as for systems like social security, it will need to be adjusted to continue to be sustainable (Raising retirement age, maximum taxable income cap, or some combination of other changes).

It could be said that we ought to accept what G-d gives us, and that financial considerations (although there) are secondary.

Only-childhood can be a boon when one is young, but that changes considerably in later years, particularly when the parents age or one dies.

My wife (eldest of five) stated that she used to dream of being an only child, but now that she sees the truth of it, she's changed her mind about it.

What if someone can't afford what God has given them, are you willing to help them?

Edited by Dan + Gemvita

keTiiDCjGVo

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I have 4 kids. I see the pros and cons of having multiple kids. I am the 4th in the line of 5 children. I love my brothers and sisters and that is a bond I would never want to give up. yes they make us crazy but they are also there when you need them in a time of grief. Friends are good to have but when you can pick up the phone and call your sister who is going through what you are going through there is just something in that. I sometimes think what if I had stopped at my daughter but then I had always knew I wanted more then just one. I planned on stopping at 2 but even with birth control my 3rd and 4th came along. So I have accepted what God gave me and I would never change them for the world. I dont like the fighting but when they sit down and play rather then fight it melts my heart and to know that they will forever have that bond makes me glad that I didnt stop at just one. it is really up to each person and how much that person has patience. My grandmother had 8 and I am still amazed at how she did that on the income of a farm hand. My grandpa passed a way in feb. and I think that it helped everyone in the family to have someone close to their age to lean on in that time of grief. It is not the same to go to someone who has never been there. They understand but then again they dont. Just putting in my two cents.


Liz

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How about zero? :devil:

Seriously, on an ethical level I'm not sure I could even bring one person into this world.

I'm with Sousuke on this one. This oven does not make buns. biggrin.gif

I think the world should be eternally grateful for this state of affairs.

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My husband and I wanted more than one so we have 3, and we've made sacrifices, but we don't pay 1000 bucks a month on daycare per child, no way. I work during the day and my husband works overnight. When I'm at work he's with the kids, when he's at work I'm with the kids.

We also don't buy them every freakin thing they ask for either. They don't always get brand new clothes, we will use handmedowns from cousins and things like that. When I was growing up, I always got handmedowns and many of my friends did too. Now, if you don't have the nicest brand name, new clothes, people will tease you :blink:

I think raising a child is very expensive here because we choose to make it expensive by the type of lifestyle we choose to live. It's not that we don't have the money to do certain things, its that we find a lot of the things people buy and do for their kids really expensive and silly and not necessary. Gifts aren't exciting for them anymore when they have more toys than a small store, and ice cream is no longer a treat because they eat it every single day :blink:

This is coming from a mom who has been accused of spoiling her kids too much :blush:


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I have two children from my first marriage. I do not plan on having any more. Not that we didn't try, we did and it didn't happen for us and I've come to terms with this and now realize it's for the best. As the article mentions, my children do consume me with the music lessons and baseball practices and games and chauffering to various friends houses and various outings, etc. It's difficult with two sometimes, I can't imagine more. My children have a half sibling and one on the way; they are not happy about this. They feel my ex spreads himself too thin as it is with just this one extra. They're concerned about what will happen when the next one arrives later this year. They've expressed to me that they were happy with just being the two of them.

I don't know if I consider my children spoiled but they have gotten pretty much anything they've wanted either from myself, my ex or their grandparents. They're young teenagers now and don't have the extras that some of their friends have such as fancy cell phones or "designer" clothing. Although I think they may envy them a bit they don't demand these things from my ex or I. They understand that it's just not in our budget. But like Susita mentioned, things that may have been special to us growing up ie going out for ice cream or McDonalds or getting a new toy just isn't exciting anymore. You have to up your game these days and it's just not feasible for many people.


"The truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off.

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We can't afford two in daycare. Quality full-time daycare around here runs at least $1600/month, and we've chosen to send him to a Montessori school in the fall, which is considerably more than that. I will struggle with having another child if it means that we won't be able to afford the best for the one we already have, particularly when it comes to education.

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I wasn't going to have any, when gynae said I probably couldn't have any children I just sat there and laughed, but you'd be surprised how something like that can eat away at you.

I had felt like this world was full of too much cr*p to bring a child into it but eventually I felt like even though I'm not rich I have a lot I could teach someone. I never had any interest in cute little babies as such but I looked forward to the whole journey. The world is only going to get better if we try to make it better and invest in the future though.

Miles made me too damn ill to willingly have another child (imagine having food poisoning every day for several months and people telling you you look awful and should drink ginger ale). I would like for him to have a sibling to share things with but unless there's an accident or we are in a really good financial position to adopt (and even then how do you know you have the stuff to take in an emotionally damaged child when you have to have gods know how many years experience to get good psychology training) I just can't see it happening.


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