One And Done

Slate published an excerpt from Lauren Sandler’s new book, One and Only: The Freedom of Having an Only Child, and the Joy of Being One:

I get it. I do. All I have to do is see our friends’ kids—plural—playing together, caring for each other, sharing a secret language. All I have to do is watch Dahlia’s joy and tenderness when she gets to hold their baby brothers and sisters. Justin sees it too, and he knows what she’s missing. But he reminds me often how the sacrifices we’d need to make to raise another child would impact Dahlia’s happiness—not to mention our own.

In an interview with NPR, Sandler addresses common concerns about having only one child:

“I think that there’s the concern that only children are lonely children. And I think that when parents consider having a second child as a gift to their first, that is probably the thing that they are most often concerned about, which I understand. I think that we have a very visceral response to seeing a child alone in a sandbox.

“But it was interesting, speaking to psychologists about the experience of loneliness for only children, a lot of them believe that we have the strongest primary relationship with ourselves, which is incredible armor against loneliness; that for a lot of only children, being alone is the experience of solitude, which is a very rich thing, instead of loneliness, which is a very painful thing.

In an interview with Salon, Sandler admits that she’s “still shocked at how this topic rankles people”

I mean, I wrote a book about Evangelicals from a feminist atheist perspective and did a ton of Christian radio — and the blowback I got was nothing compared to when my Time cover story  came out saying, quite simply, that only children are OK.  It’s like I’m suggesting that people should have aborted their own children — or that their parents should have aborted their siblings.  It’s fascinating to me how emotional, how fraught the topic is.  At a conference I spoke at recently, a professor hugged me and told me how “brave” I was to take this on — when the conference had been focused on family planning and poverty … and this is what’s brave? That’s nuts. Listen, I‘m not telling anyone how many kids they should have — lord knows, we have enough people telling women what to do with their bodies — just saying that if this is a choice you want to make, or that your body is making for you, then you should know that only children aren’t fundamentally rotten, or no more rotten than anyone else.