Only Child Boom
For the past two decades, the ranks of only children have been on the rise. Today, single-child families are the fastest-growing family unit in the nation, up from more than 10 million in 1972 to more than 15 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
What's going on? In addition to the parents who choose to have only one child, people are marrying later in life, which sets the stage for fertility problems that can leave them with a small family by default.
Plus, the stigma once associated with only children isn't as strong as it was 30 years ago, according to Susan Newman, PhD, a psychologist, the mother of an only child, and author of Parenting an Only Child: The Joys and Challenges of Raising Your One and Only (Broadway Books, 2001).
"The most common myths -- that only children are spoiled, bossy, and socially inept -- haven't panned out," says Newman, who has been studying only children for two decades. "Studies show that only children are no different from other kids. Specifically, they're not more spoiled, lonely, selfish, or overly dependent."
Actually, there's plenty of good news about only children. In fact, research shows they're self-confident, well-organized, and ambitious. Still, many couples agonize over whether or not to have a second baby, concerned that they or their child may miss out on the sibling experience. Here are the pluses and minuses of raising just one child.