The Purpose of Only Child
Only Child is a digital publication devoted to one of the fastest growing segments of our society… Only Children of all ages. There are an estimated 20 million only child households in the United States alone. Although we may not be advocates for having only children (possibly too much of a good thing!), we are advocates FOR only children. Only children are like divining rods. They seem to strike at the heart of every situation that comes their way. They are different! They are far more obsessive about values. And, they are magnets for controversy. Only Child addresses these unique differences in a rather unique manner. Our goal is to constructively address the concerns and interests of only children, their parents, grandparents, family and friends… from child care to eldercare. More and more people around the world are realizing the importance of one-child families.
Only Child has been featured on CNN national and international news. Time Magazine included us in the Your Family section. Time explains that, “… a third of American families started today will have only one child.” NBC Nightly News highlighted Only Child in a segment on only-child families that stressed the dramatic increase in single child households.
The Washington Post included Only Child as part of a front page story on the rapid growth of only-child families. The article states that, “The percentage of women nationwide who have one child has nearly doubled in the past twenty years…” The Los Angeles Times featured us in a story about the close bonds of the only-child family. Most recently, USA Today, included Only Child in two feature articles explaining, “Increasing numbers of families are experiencing a type of new math: One plus zero equals no guilt.”
They are finding that having an only child is just fine. The stereotype of the parents of an only child as selfish – and of the singleton as lonely, spoiled, just this side of pathetic – is changing dramatically… Only Child is also part of an extensive article on population in the January, 2001 issue of The Economist. According to The Economist the number of only children in this country is rising all the time. “The decline in family size means that there will be proportionately more only children and more who are first born,” says The Economist.
Over ten-years-ago we started this website and newsletter to address the needs and concerns of only children from childhood through adulthood and into the senior years. Little did we realize that we had placed ourselves at the forefront of a new chapter in the history of the greatest shift in population demographics in the United States and the Western World. Like the tip of an iceberg, the mass of this movement lies hidden from view, largely as a result of ignorance about and prejudice toward only children.
The percentage of women who have one child has more than doubled in the past 20 years up from 10% to over 23%. Only child families are the fastest growing families in this country and most industrialized Western European countries. According to the Census Bureau’s Birth Expectation Survey, the number of women ages 18 to 34 in the United States who plan to have one child has increased steadily from 12.7% in 1985 to 13.9% today. In New York City over 30% of children are only children. Families with one child are seeking reassurance that their child will grow up secure and happy without siblings. It is Only Child’s mission to provide that reassurance by offering timely information and advice specifically related to only child issues and concerns.
Little by little the message is getting out that those frayed notions about only children make little or no sense as we begin the 21st century. It’s time to appreciate the only child family as a powerful, healthy entity. That’s the way I see my family. Like all parents, I am proud of my child. But more than anything I am proud of how my husband, daughter and I relate to one another.
Some time ago we were having lunch together when our waiter paid us a compliment. We had engaged him in conversation and when he found out that we were our daughter’s parents he was surprised. “I thought that you might be her aunt and uncle,” he said. “Why?” we asked. “Well,” he said, “you are having such a good time together. Usually parents and kids don’t have much to say to one another.” I am glad that we are some of the close ones. Maybe it’s because in a one-child family it’s hard to hide behind masks. We spend too much time together.
I am optimistic about the new millennium and the role that only children will play in it. I know that with their inner strength, intelligence, desire to communicate, and determination to get things done, only children will play a large part in helping us become a more intelligent and compassionate society.
Without even trying hard the number of people on this good earth has hit 6 billion and counting. This latest billion was reached in only 12 years. Imagine what it would mean if the world’s population continued to grow at that rate? We would all be standing on one another’s heads merely to grab a breath of hideously polluted air. And you could forget finding a parking space or a lane in which to drive more than 10 miles an hour on the freeway. The good news is that birth rates are now declining in every nation in the world.
The United Nations predicts (and so far they have been a good predictor) that population will peak at about 10 Billion by 2050 and then will begin to decline. For birth rates to stabilize women on average must have fewer than 2.1 children. In the United States our fertility rate is 1.99 children per woman. With a birthrate of 1.15 per woman, Spain is the champion of low fertility in industrialized Europe. Italy comes in second with 1.20.
Women in underdeveloped countries have the most children. Yemen leads with 7.60 children per women, closely followed by Somalia with 7.25. But let’s face it 10,000,000,000 is a huge number with an enormous impact. Over population is at the root of almost every environmental problem. Our world is under siege, and it’s a battle we can’t win unless population declines.
Robert Engleman, vice-president for research at Population Action International, is concerned. “What really isn’t clear,” he states, “is whether governments will continue to make the progress they have made in providing reproductive care. If they don’t, fertility decline could be stalled.” According to Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club, population is the cause of most of our problems: urban air pollution, global warming, species extinction, rain forest destruction, and depleted drinking water. And we won’t even discuss road rage.
Here’s a toast to only children and only child families. Whether you know it or not, you are an important force in helping our planet survive.
Only Child’s mission is to work with only children of all ages, their parents, relatives, friends, community organizations and educational institutions to provide support and information. In an era when family groups are radically changing, there is an urgent need to understand both the dynamics of this restructuring and its multi-faceted effects on both the social and psychological makeup of today’s and future families.
Without broad based organized research and widespread dissemination of information about the only child family, many stereotypical and prejudiced views about only children, their potential for achievement, and relationships to family and society will be perpetuated. We cannot accomplish these goals without your support and input. Please e-mail your suggestions and concerns. They are all greatly appreciated.
Only children of all ages, parents, grandparents and friends of only children have written to let us know how helpful it is to finally have their own place to go for the information they need.. The letters that have come to us from all over the world have touched us deeply and made us understand even more clearly the need that Only Child fills. Our goal is to provide a forum for the only child at all stages of life.
Having raised our own only child (who is now twenty four), we recognize the concerns parents and children have throughout the formative years. We know that only children grow up and have a very unique journey through life. At times they will have to manage many of life’s joys and challenges alone. Only Child will be there to provide ideas about how to make that journey a smoother one.