How to respond to negative concerns about having only one child

Lauren Sandler, MA, Journalist, and Author, shares advice for parents of a single child on how to best respond to concerns that your child is lonely and spoiled as a single child
How To Respond To Negative Concerns About Having An Only Child
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How to respond to negative concerns about having only one child

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One of the things that surprised me the most when I became a parent of an only child is how much the rest of the world feels entitled to butt in and comment on it. So I have gotten comments from strangers on the subway, in the supermarket, you name it. We think of that pressure coming from our families or friends sometimes but I really found that the whole outside world feels like they can butt in on this one. And it is always hard to know what to say in response. Sometimes I just say my kid is perfectly happy. Look, she is doing cartwheels in the aisles. She is twirling around in a tutu. She is picking healthy food off the shelves in the supermarket. What could be wrong here? But there is always this notion that she is disadvantaged in the world outside and that I am the person who is putting her in that position by not having another child. So I have cited figures from the Department of Agriculture about how much children cost. I have talked about my workload. I have mentioned studies about happiness that she will be great forever. It doesn´t matter. It is one of these things that is so entrenched that if someone is going to butt into your life and tell you that you are making a bad parenting choice, they are not going to be swayed by any literature that you mention. And so, I have just learned to smile. I smile my most beautific smile and I say oh, thank you. I think she is okay though. And I try not to sound sarcastic, which I am sure I do. I´m sure I sound sarcastic and dismissive in those moments. But honestly I feel like my child´s own happiness is the best retort.

Lauren Sandler, MA, Journalist, and Author, shares advice for parents of a single child on how to best respond to concerns that your child is lonely and spoiled as a single child

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Lauren Sandler, MA

Journalist & Author

Lauren Sandler is the author of One and Only: The Freedom of Having an Only Child and the Joy of Being One, and a journalist who writes on cultural politics and gender issues for publications like Time, The New York Times, and Slate. And she’s as an only child and the mother of one herself. 

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