The conversation started innocently. The woman behind me had an infant in a Bjorn, a toddler in a cart and a 4-year-old clinging to her leg. I'll call her FertileMom.
FertileMom (re: my daughter): "Your first?"
FertileMom: "Are you going to have any more?"
Me: "No. We just want one."
FertileMom (shaking her head with disapproval): "Tsk. What a shame."
This woman then launched into a monologue about how sad it will be for my daughter as a "lonely only" and how the best gift we could ever give her is a playmate. "You know what they say about only children: They're spoiled," she added emphatically.
Of course, FertileMom was only parroting what most people believe (albeit in a rude manner): that only children are destined to be lonely, selfish, spoiled jerks. Given the economy, more women are choosing to have smaller families. Does that mean that, in the coming years, we will be overrun with sibling-free children who think they are the center of the universe?
No, says Time contributor Lauren Sandler. "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," she writes.
Psychologist Carl Pickhardt also weighs in: "There's no question that only children are highly indulged and highly protected," he says. "You've been given more attention and nurturing to develop yourself. But that's not the same thing as being selfish."
Whew ... dodged that parenting bullet! Now, what's the next thing I can stress over ...?
Are you concerned for only children?