Journalist and author Lauren Sandler (pictured) recently interviewed me about pronatalism and The Baby Matrix. Today her book, One & Only came out. We talked a lot about the pronatalist myths that the childfree and those with one child have in common—the biggest? The most stubborn pronatalist myth there is…
It’s the one that centers around selfishness:
Childfree version: Not wanting children means you are selfish.
The only child twist: You’re selfish for wanting only one child. Or – you aren’t willing to do what is best for the child – which is to have a sibling. If you don’t s/he will be lonely and spoiled.
The research is out there, and I am sure Lauren goes into it and more (her book is going with me on an upcoming 25th anniversary trip to Mexico…that’s another post!).
Studies tell us that onlies will not automatically be lonely and spoiled just because they don’t have siblings. Studies also tell us that the research that “concluded” these kinds of things was seriously flawed, but somehow the ideas stuck anyway.
Why did these kinds of myths stick anyway? It could very well have involved the assumed creditability of the academics at the time, but the social and cultural pronatalist backdrop can’t be discounted.
Kudos to Lauren for poking holes in pronatalist myths. One is what I call the Normality Assumption. There is not something wrong with us if we don’t want children, and there is not something wrong with us if we only want to raise one child. In fact, if the parents decide it is what is best for them and their family, it is very right for the child.
The larger picture also relates to the pronatalist Offspring Assumption-stopping at one biological child is actually the more selfLess act than having another child. The parents are not adding another biological child to the 7+ billion and counting world, which ultimately contributes to leaving a better world for the child they did have.
May One & Only add to the forces of help society see the truth about size of family; like a family of two, a family of three is just fine.
Parents of onlies out there, what myths have you been subjected to?