The (L)only Child

Friday, August 06, 2010

Lauren Sandler, journalist, and author of the Time Magazine story "One and Done" discusses the myths about only children as more parents decide to have only one child.


Lauren Sandler

Comments [21]


tsk tsk tsk: why should a child be born with a job i.e. make the irresponsible adults who conceived me happy etc. etc. remember the child didn't have a choice, but the parent did. If you're seeking fulfillment in an otherwise unfulfilled life seek it elsewhere. Lastly do an income to child evaluation and honestly assess whether or not you can actually afford it. Love does not fill an empty stomach and the last thing a child should have to hear throughout their childhood is "i/we can't afford this/that..." hello children have needs that must be met which will lead them to become competitive/contributing adults. It's like the cute baby evolves into an albatro$$ for a lot of parents.

Aug. 06 2010 12:21 PM

Four's a lot? try ten! The neighborhood average during the baby boom - Catholic neighborhood.

Aug. 06 2010 12:04 PM
Donna from NJ

I have to laugh at the people that consider having more kids because their kid needs support for when they become elderly. Having a child is such a huge responsiblity and commitment. I think that is a selfish thought! Why not get your care set up for the future instead!!

Nobody knows what the future holds! The kids may not get along, they may, God forbid, die before you, you may die while they are young. It is such a wrong and irresponsible decision to have a kid, but I have met many people considering it for that very reason!!

Aug. 06 2010 11:56 AM
Edward Levinson from Metuchen, NJ

The people who decide to have only one child because they're concerned about the impact of overpopulation are exactly the ones who should have more. They're smart, they understand the inter-relationships of the world. They're more likely to raise intelligent children who will be able to improve society.

Aug. 06 2010 11:51 AM
Carol from New York

Four children? That was the stupidest comment I've ever heard........not everyone can afford to have more than one child.......but four?........the ideal number? When you pay more taxes, I'll go on welfare, then have three more!!!!
Also, next time you see a woman of color, pregnant, pushing a stroller with two children and holding the hand of her a thumbs up instead of the ugly nasty sneer I can imagine you usually give!!!

Aug. 06 2010 11:50 AM
Bob from New Jersey

I have one child, age 30, unmarried, still living at home and in no rush to leave or walk down the aisle. I have a wife with MS. Without my daughter I don't know how she and I would cope with this debilitating illness.

So in some circumstances, children are still needed for assistance in old age.

Aug. 06 2010 11:49 AM
maggie from hoboken

I have noticed that "the super wealthy" Manhattan /Westchester crowds -- tend to have large families. Perhaps because they have big living spaces, lots of help, and money for school/college? Kids are like a status symbol.
Anyone else see this?

Aug. 06 2010 11:48 AM
Julian from Manhattan

Dear John K,

If that's directed at me, it's a common misapprehension. I grew up in Manhattan, albeit a very different place. In today's landscape, it's a very difficult proposition to even find an apartment where one can raise a child. Somehow I think people with this attitude have adopted it to make themselves feel better. Manhattan is one of the cultural centers of the world, where a child can be exposed to a infinite variety of experiences that simply don't exist in the suburbs. Not to mention a diverse background of people and their cultures. Are your kids really better off in their backyard? I have friends who left Manhattan to raise their children in the suburbs, and have now returned with them as teenagers here - they regret their decision, to which they were pressured largely by their parents - their kids love it here, and don't miss the boring suburbs from which they came.

Aug. 06 2010 11:42 AM
UWS from NYC

Just because one has siblings doesn't mean that these relationships last one's whole life. Sometimes siblings become estranged because of rifts about money, in-laws, etc.

Aug. 06 2010 11:42 AM
Meg Scarpetta

I have a sibling but ours is a very poor relationship so I am essentially caring for aging parents alone and have the additional worry that my sibling will abuse my parents - lonely either way I think.

Aug. 06 2010 11:41 AM
Donna from New Jersey

Hello, I am commenting on the conversation going on right now with the woman that wrote the article about unhappy parenting.

I just wanted to say that we are forgetting about the enormous pressure we have on us as morthers today to be perfect and have perfect kids, and, in turn, our kids childhoods are stolen from them.

Gone are the carefree days of childhood that I experienced 33 years ago and they have been replaced with kids with daytimers because every moment of their day has to be planned. I only have one kid, but the other mom's I know that multiples and they each have a daytimer!

Not only would all this make a mom stressed to say the least, but it is impossible to live up to all this perfection, which in turn is going to lead to unhappiness, and what is it doing to our kids. There is no freedom of expression any more.

Aug. 06 2010 11:33 AM
dboy from nyc


I totally agree!

We have one and as a father I am totally in love. Always have been.

The problem is the financial stress that having a child has put on our relationship. We were great before the kid was born but, now it has become extremely difficult. Because we have chosen to move to a more "affordable" neighborhood we have been forced to choose private schooling because the school system here is sooo BAD.

We both absolutely LOVE our kid - he is wonderful but, our relationship may be sacrificed as a result of having him.

Very difficult to balance in this city! :(

Aug. 06 2010 11:33 AM
Teal from pomona, ny

I allways told my girls that I must have won the daughter lottery. Even through some extrodinarily difficult events I have been gratefull beyond measure that they came to me. Perhaps it is because I was an only child.
I'm not sure when or if I will be gifted with grandchildren, but I have long believed that it is enough to have been given my daughters ( 28 & 30) and I will be able to die in gratitude.

Aug. 06 2010 11:32 AM
Susan from Manhattan

I found the comments about phases of infancy and childhood and how men sometimes react differently to infants very interesting. I also did not have the classic fall in love with my baby instantly reaction and, looking at photos of my mother when we were young infants, I don't think she did either. My aunt and my cousin are baby cuddlers.

However, in working with thousands of families as a lactation consultant, I think what overcomes that initial alienation for both men and women is skin to skin contact with the baby -- whether it is through breastfeeding, or dad putting the baby just in a diaper on his chest, infant massage, or bathing the baby. That physiologic reaction gradually builds the bonding. I've seen some men bond better with their babies than their wives, merely because they spend more time touching their babies.

My son's frequent need to breastfeed actually helped me overcome my own distaste of being hugged and hugging others. I now can hug naturally without telling myself this is a social norm that is expected of me.

I think the Danish study is very important. American parents really don't have enough support and it is a significant cause of unhappiness.

Aug. 06 2010 11:26 AM
jonn k

Manhattan is no place for children.

Aug. 06 2010 11:26 AM
Julian from Manhattan

I agree with the previous comment. I have two wonderful sons, one of whom I single-parented. He is 27. My other son is 10. So I have been parenting for 37 years. This is nothing more than a further example of our self-centered society, where we must always be happy (Prozac?). Nothing has been more satisfying than bringing them up, even from birth. I feed my second son his first meal, colostrum from his mom. Parenthood is more than a cool idea for an article, study or book; selfish parents need not apply.

Aug. 06 2010 11:23 AM
Patty from Babylon from Long Island

After 8 years of infertility, holding my dead child in my arms after he was stillborn, and 2 miscarriages, I think I have a pretty good grasp of how terrible parenting can be. I still want to be a parent and can assure you that NOT having any living children is NOT making me more happy.

Aug. 06 2010 11:17 AM

Please talk about the environmental impact of making the decision to have children - especially more than 2

Aug. 06 2010 11:17 AM

With regard to having more children and happiness: I have two kids and am _far_ more happy than I was before I had kids -- despite all the hassles, the time constraints, etc.

My two bits? The problem is parents who figured they'd still be able to behave like college students after having kids.

That said, New York makes it as near-impossible to have kids as any place can. No social support. No infrastructure support. Absurd schooling schedules. And impossible impossible impossible housing prices.

It's not kids making us unhappy, it's the hostility to children of the US federal government and state and local governments. Bloombergs and Kleins have armies of people to support their families. Not so for 95% of us.

Aug. 06 2010 11:04 AM
Rosie from Brooklyn

My experience growing up an only was very positive...I was a precocious child who enjoyed all of my parents resources, and am now a well adjusted adult. There is no guarantee that a sibling relationship will be a positive one; that they will be helpful in aiding to support your parents in their old age...a parent should decide whether THEY want a larger family, but to do it "to give your child a sibling" may or may not be in the child's best interest. Do what is right for your family. If that is selfish, so be it!

Aug. 06 2010 10:34 AM


Aug. 06 2010 09:53 AM

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