Hudson Valley Parent

HVP - April 2014

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 25 of 46

24 Hudson Valley Parent n April 2014 woman to 1.9 children per woman in 1980. Today, the number of chil- dren per family hovers at 1.88, and over 20 percent of women have only one child. A singular advantage? A century after iconic psychologist G. Stanley Hall famously proclaimed that being an only child is "a disease in itself," researchers are discover- ing the opposite effect: hundreds of studies show that only children are socially capable and academically adept. One researcher making a strong case for only children is Douglas Downey of Ohio State University. His recent study of 13,500 kids found that any difference in social competence between only children and those with siblings disappears by adolescence: by grade seven, only children were just as popular as their No siblings, no problem! Raising a happy only child By MALIA JACOBSON P arenting an only child comes with plenty of perks. Just ask Hope Austin. She has plenty of time and energy to play with her 3-year-old daughter Grace, she isn't drowning in childcare expenses, and she knows Grace will have more money for college. But that doesn't mean raising a singleton is easy. "With the cost of childcare and the fact that I'm about to go back to school, I just don't know if I can give her a sibling," says Austin. "But I wonder if I'm doing the right thing." Increasingly, researchers say that she is. Like Austin, many of today's parents are opting for just one child, and new research is challenging long-held assumptions that siblings are a must for a happy childhood. In fact, some researchers and authors are making a convincing case that only children may have an edge over kids with siblings in some areas — academics, for example. In her 2011 book, "The Case For the Only Child," social psychologist Susan Newman writes that many women are having children later in life and more and more families are concerned about the cost of raising children. With these demographic and economic trends dovetailing with research showing that only children aren't disadvantaged at all, it's not hard to understand why single-child families are growing at a faster rate than families with more than one child, she says. Downsizing the family The iconic image of two parents surrounded by two or three rosy- cheeked children is dated — and quickly disappearing, says Newman. Until 1967, over two-thirds of Amer- icans preferred a family of three or more children, but in a 2007 Gal- lup poll, half of Americans said the ideal family contains one, two, or no children. According to government reports, America's birth rate declined from its 1957 peak of 3.7 children per (Continued on Page 26) "Only children tend to wind up with better vocabulary and a more sophisticated sense of humor." — author Jeffrey Kluger

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Hudson Valley Parent - HVP - April 2014