What do you think when someone tells you, “I’m an only child?” Perhaps the phrases “over-indulged”, “over-privileged”, “over-achiever”, “over-” anything, come to mind. But, according to the new Time article “One and Done”, only children might not be the asocial, micromanaged mini-adults society thinks they are — and that one-child families are on the rise.
Personally, I was always jealous of my only-child friends. They got all their parents’ love, attention, and resources. Not so for me, a middle child (if you couldn’t already tell). I know my parents love me and my sisters more than anything, but it’s a lot harder to divide everything in halves, thirds, fourths, than to give one kid 100% — 200%, if you count both parents.
That’s one major point of the Time article — only children actually perform better academically and do tend to have better self-esteem, because parents can give their only child their all. That stereotype of only children being maladjusted was a result of a study (done 120 years ago, no less), that called being an only child a “disease”. Since then, multiple studies have confirmed that only children are largely similar to those with siblings, except that (like first-borns with sibs) they score higher academically.
Besides the ability to devoting all attention to an only child, another major factor contributing to one-child families is – economics. Most of the parents interviewed in the article said that one child is all they could comfortably afford, thanks to the recession. The majority of American families also no longer need a Jon-and-Kate-size brood to help on the family farm. Plus, one-child families historically accompany economic dips, for obvious reasons — the article states that 23% of all families during the Great Depression were single-child.
But here’s another factor that’s influencing a rise in one-child families: it makes parents
happier. A University of Pennsylvania study cited in the Time article concluded women with one child were happier than those with more than one — or none. Think: Parents of onlies potty train once. Introduce solids once. Field toddler temper tantrums once. One child is a compromise — you can experience the joy of parenting but maintain a semblance of your adult life (unlike the families interviewed in the New York mag piece “All Joy and No Fun”).
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