Second UTNE Reader 1999 (August Issue) : LUSENET : M.Ed./International Falls : One Thread

UTNE READER RESPONSE Second UTNE Reader Response (August 1998 Issue)

Response by Tina Meyers

"One For The Planet; Making a Case for the Only Child" by: Andy Steiner

This article gives some input regarding the issues surrounding only children and the reasons why some families have only one child.

In the United States the amount of single-child families has nearly doubled in the past 15 years. In the past, families had larger amounts of children to help with everyday tasks that needed to be completed. Every family member had their job and was expected to help out according to age and ability. Information regarding birth control and contraception were not openly discussed or available for families. In demographic studies researchers have found that some Americans still believe a family should have more than one child.

History has shown that in the U. S. only children and their parents are strongly scrutinized. Part of the scrutiny comes from stereotypes about spoiling, maladjustment, and loner syndromes in these children. Bill McKibben, an environmentalist, author, and father of a 4-year-old daughter has done professional and personal research regarding these very concerns. His research found that only children actually achieve better academically and are just as well, if not more, socially adjusted than other children.

Toni Falbo, professor of educational psychology and sociology at the University of Texas at Austin, has been studying only children and their families since 1973. Falbo found that only children are not anymore inclined to divorce or do not have any more trouble making friends than people raised in larger families. This study and research denounces the negative stereotypes and addresses the common problem of misconceptions and judgements.

Families in the 90's are making conscience decisions as to how many children they are having. Many families are choosing to have just one child. The divorce rate, infertility problems and concern for global population and the environment are the most common reasons for single child families. Some feel that if families in the United States continue to procreate, population will double by the year 2050.

There are also certain cultural or ethnic groups that favor larger families. The main concern is not about ethnicity, but about the amount of natural resources each family uses. Industrialized nations make up only 22 percent of the world's population, and yet we use 2/3 of the world's resources. This data is drastic and should cause all of us to take notice.

Being an only child myself, I can relate to some of the misinformation and stereotypes this article discussed. Those that only knew my sibling status and not me personally considered me to be automatically spoiled and assumed that I also had a lonely childhood. It has been quite the contrary. My parents did not choose to have only one child, but they did try their best to instill responsibility and always cautioned materialism. I was not a lonely child growing up because of the large extended family that I have. My family is very close and I grew up with two loving parents, family and many friends. I believe that family and the emotionality of it is a very large contributing factor to a child's success, self-esteem and adjustment in society.

I believe that every family must make a choice as to how many children they have. There are societal concerns and issues of quality time that families will have to contend with in making their decisions. I do agree that we, meaning every human being, have an obligation in helping preserve our earth's natural resources, but to what extent and where does that line have to be drawn to protect the earth. My concern is whether each nation will eventually have to determine how many children a family can have. This issue is much bigger than government; it then becomes about religion and the freedoms that exist under the constitution.

I question as to whether nations or communities can set standards as to how many children a family can have, what is the norm and what quota will begin to raise questions within a societal community. The focus needs to steer from global issues to what is right for the child and the family. I wish that our nation would take a serious look at the importance of family and all in which that implies.

-- Anonymous, January 25, 1999

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