“The War on Only Children”

17 Jan

Mary Elizabeth Williams published a thought provoking piece last week on Salon.com entitled “The War on Only Children.”  Her title overstates the point of the piece–it’s not genuinely about aggression toward only children.  It’s about people making assumptions about other people and saying obnoxious things to them…which could also be called “the entire internet.”

Williams laments how only she is frequently confronted by well-intentioned but ignorant people who make exaggerated assumptions about her personality because she is an only child.  People are quick to assume she’s self-centered, ill socialized, and doesn’t work well with others.  She goes on to explain that she, like most other only children, is–gasp—normal.

Not being an only child, I was never confronted by this particular stripe of assumptions.  I’m the only girl and the oldest of 4, and have had people assume that I am over-achieving, bossy, and self-centered…which I am. So no surprise there.  This could explain why I’ve never been much bothered by people making assumptions about my personality based on my birth order.

Mr. Beez is an only child.  He’s not extremely outgoing, but that’s likely more attributable to him being a computer geek than to not having siblings.  He’s certainly patient and good at sharing.  Every time the poor guy gets himself a soda, I steal it from him, and he never complains.  He’s much better at sharing than I am, and I’m the one with all the brothers.

Mr. Beez and I are somewhat vocal about our intention for Baby Beez to remain an only child.  I acknowledge that the entire universe doesn’t care about the size of our family, but I’ve noticed that as soon as you have one kid, everyone keeps asking you when you’re having the next.  They get pretty confused when you say “we aren’t.”

I’ve heard so much about how only children are maladjusted, or how they’re not well socialized.  It’s reassuring to hear someone like Williams speak out and say “Um, No. We’re fine.”  And Baby Beez for sure is well socialized and adaptable.  Kids are people, not puppies.  You don’t have to have a bunch of them so they can “keep each other company.”  Baby Beez is, and will be, continue to be surrounded with love and friends, and she’ll be a-ok.

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3 Responses to ““The War on Only Children””

  1. rachelraven January 17, 2012 at 8:53 am #

    I got that all the time, too… and while there was a very brief period of time where George and I did half-heartedly and reluctantly try (for various reasons), it was a no go, but we weren’t bothered by that fact (however, others around me were, like it was even their business… my father in law even said he’d pay for IVF… um, no). Eva is THE most social thing ever, she has more friends at nine than I had at nineteen, and we always made sure that she had lots of kids to play with/call upon. Yes, there are days when no one is available and mom and dad are busy and unable to do things with her (and she grumps and has to entertain herself), but is that entirely a bad thing? And you can’t predict that siblings are going to even like each other… I work with a lady who has three sisters and they all hate each other, and they see each other once a year, at Christmas at mom’s house, and they do it for mom, not for each other. When it’s over, they go back to their lives and don’t talk again ’til the following December.

    • Sandy January 17, 2012 at 9:32 am #

      That is a good point about the sisters hating each other, and that keeps coming back to my head when I think “but Elena should have a sibling so she’ll have someone to hang with.” I have a coworker who’s supertight with her sister and they swap nail polish and it’s so awesome to think of, and great for them, but no guarantee that another child we have would like to hang with Elena (or, not be the spawn of Satan for that matter).

      • beezuskiddo January 17, 2012 at 8:13 pm #

        I wanted to say something incredibly insightful in response to both of your comments…but I couldn’t think of anything :/ I think you both raise very good points. Thanks for the feedback 🙂

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