A funny, tough-minded case for being and having an only child, debunking the myths about only children and taking glory in the pleasures of singletons: “A swift and absorbing read…may change your mind and the national conversation” (Psychology Today).
Journalist Lauren Sandler is an only child and the mother of one. After investigating what only children are really like and whether stopping at one child is an answer to reconciling motherhood and modernity, she learned a lot about herself—and a lot about our culture’s assumptions. In this heartfelt work, Sandler legitimizes a discussion about the larger societal costs of having more than one, which Jessica Grose in her review in The New Republic calls, “the vital part of the conversation that’s not being discussed in the chatter” surrounding parenting.
Between the recession, the stresses of modern life, and the ecological dangers ahead, there are increasing pressures on parents to think seriously about singletons. Sandler considers the unique ways that singletons thrive, and why so many of their families are happier. One and Only examines these ideas, including what the rise of the single-child family means for our economies, our environment, and our freedom, leaving the reader “informed and sympathetic,” writes Nora Krug in the Washington Post.
Through this journey, “Sandler delves deeply, thoughtfully, and often humorously into history, culture, politics, religion, race, economics, and of course, scientific research” writes Lori Gottlieb, The New York Times Book Review. “I couldn’t put it down,” says Randi Hutter Epstein in the Huffington Post. Sandler “isn’t proselytizing, she’s just stating it like it is. Seductively honest.” At the end, Sandler has quite possibly cracked the code of happiness, demonstrating that having just one may be the way to resolve our countless struggles with adulthood in the modern age.
Journalist Sandler (Righteous: Dispatches from the Evangelical Youth Movement), an only child and the mother of an only child, is struggling with the decision of whether to have a second baby. Though she says this is not a memoir, her personal story is woven throughout, beginning with her mother's decision to have one child and ending with the author's apparent decision not to have a second child (though tears flow when her husband considers a vasectomy). The focus of the book, however, is on dissecting the research surrounding the myth of the lonely, selfish, maladjusted only child. Sandler reports that only children are not lonelier, that they have higher levels of aspiration, motivation, and success, and that even when their parents' divorce, they may well become better adjusted than kids with siblings. While she finds that negative stereotypes and social stigmas prevail (including the notion that moms with only children are selfish), Sandler reveals that "onlies" benefit from their parents' single-minded support, both financially and emotionally. But the point is to "live the life you want," making choices based on individual desires and what is best for one's particular family. Onlies, parents of onlies, and readers still on the fence will find the book illuminating and affirming.