Tuesday, September 17th, 2013
Last week, when the winds of the back-to-school storm were just dying down — the 2-page list of supplies were purchased, new clothes and shoes and accessories had their way with my wallet, afterschool plans were set and paid for, the pediatrician saw us, and any sneaky lice were evicted from my 6-year-old’s head — my sister asked me, “When are you going to have another one?”
I kindly asked her to zip it.
She’s not the only person concerned with the contents of my uterus. Since my daughter’s first day home, I don’t think that I’ve gone a full week without someone asking when I plan on giving her a friend.
“She has plenty of friends,” I reply. “Friends that I don’t have to pay for.”
But everyone from my grandmother to strangers on the subway tells me that I am doing my daughter a disservice by “forcing her to go through life alone.”
At this point I wish I had a big buzzer like the ones that go off on game shows when a contestant gets an answer wrong, because according to studies (and me—Mother knows best) my only child is going to be just fine.
In a study titled, “Good for Nothing: Number of Siblings and Friendship Nominations Among Adolescents,” researchers found that the very modest social deficit sometimes seen in kindergarten evaporated when only children reached middle school. A large number of children (13,500) in grades seven through twelve at 100 different schools were asked to name ten friends. The only children were just as popular as their peers with siblings. Furthermore, the authors noted, “These results contribute to the view that there is little risk to growing up without siblings-or alternatively, that siblings really may be ‘good for nothing,’” reports Psychology Today.
So there you have it. She won’t be lonely. But what about the self-centered only child stereotype?
Confession: When I was in middle school, people always said, “You’re so bratty. You must be an only child.” And then they would find out that I’m the youngest, and that fit too — it’s always something.
In a study titled Behavioral Characteristics of the Only Child vs First-Born and Children with Siblings, researchers found that the status of being an only child is not associated with a poor outcome in several areas of the development.
“Simply, we tend to succeed at significantly higher rates than people raised with siblings, whether it’s at school or in our professional endeavors. Solitary pursuits like reading train our focus and curiosity and the verbally rich environment of life among adults accelerates our learning,” Lauren Sandler writes in her book One and Only: The Freedom of Having an Only Child, and the Joy of Being One.
I suppose I cannot say for certain that the future doesn’t hold another child for our family; we haven’t done anything to make it technically impossible. But it is reassuring to know that, while I’m comfortably balancing my career, marriage, and one child, my daughter is not lacking in a single thing.
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Friday, December 21st, 2012
Kids Given Healthier Snacks Eat Fewer Calories
Kids given a combination of cheese and vegetables will eat only about a quarter as many calories as those given potato chips, according to a new study. (via Reuters)
Children of Older Parents with Cancer May Be at Risk, Too
Children of parents diagnosed with cancer when they’re old are at increased risk for certain types of cancer, a new study suggests. (via HealthDay News)
Poor Children Have Highest In-Hospital Death Rate
Children from poorer neighborhoods who are hospitalized are more likely to die before discharge than kids from wealthier areas, according to a new study. (via Reuters)
Supportive Role Models, Coping Lead to Better Health in Poor Teens
Low-income teenagers who have supportive role models and engage in adaptive strategies have lower levels of a marker for cardiovascular risk than low-income teens without such resources, according to new research. (via ScienceDaily)
Parents: Don’t Jump Into Sibling Squabbles
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Sibling conflict may increase a young person’s risk for depression and anxiety, but parents can help guard children’s mental health by setting up “house rules,” a new study finds. (via University of Missouri)
Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012
As a parent, you want nothing more than to have your children love one another and play nicely. Not only is a sibling bond important, researchers say it’s also good for your child’s emotional health. According to a study from Brigham Young University, kids who had a sister throughout their childhood were less likely to feel fearful, lonely, or unloved than kids without sisters. Even if your children only show their emotions through endless arguing, researchers agree that sibling conflict is still far less detrimental than complete lack of affection.
Although kids don’t always get along, what if your child wasn’t even able to talk to her sibling, let alone utter the words “I love you”? One mom shares the story of both her daughter’s struggle to communicate with her brother, and her son’s single heartbreaking wish: to hear his sister say his name. To read Amy Kohn’s touching tale, check out our August issue or click here.
Image: happy sister and brother together via Shuttershock
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Friday, April 8th, 2011
How many kids to have? That’s not a small or inconsequential question for those who are blessed to be able to make that decision. Two voices in the news this week offer conflicting advice to those of us wondering what the right balance is when it comes to the size of our brood.
The first, a study commissioned by the website Bounty.com, found that of all possible combinations of number and gender of kids, having two daughters makes for the most happy and peaceful family life. According to the Telegraph newspaper:
The results show of all the variations, two girls make for the most harmonious family life as they are unlikely to fight, will play nicely and are generally a pleasure to be around.
It also emerged two girls rarely annoy their parents, make limited noise, often confide in their parents and are unlikely to wind each other up or ignore each other.
By contrast, doubling the number of daughters is likely to lead to a whole world of pain, the report found.
As the father of the two most awesome girls on earth (pictured above) and the husband of a woman who is one of four daughters, I am particularly intrigued by these findings. My younger daughter, being an infant, is too young to prove or disprove the theory–there’s no fighting…yet.
What does this mean for any future deliberations on whether to have more kids? Not sure it would impact my thinking, especially after reading about a newly published book, “Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids,” by Bryan Caplan, an economist. (more…)
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