The place for the only child...
Increasing numbers of families are experiencing a type of new math: One plus zero equals no guilt. They are finding that having an only child is just fine.
The stereotype of the parents of an only child as selfish - and of the singleton as lonely, spoiled, just this side of pathetic - is changing dramatically, experts say.
Two factors are at play: exploding numbers of singletons and a changing image of them among child-development professionals. That makes it easier to live "only" in America...
...The number of only children is soaring. The percentage of women ages 40-44 who had only one child rose from 9.6% in 1980 to 17.3% in 1998. That's an 85% increase, the U.S. Census Bureau says. "The number is going up every year," the bureau's Amara Bachu says. That age group is used as a marker for family size because women are assumed to be nearing the end of their child-bearing years...
...Experts say there are several reasons for the ballooning numbers of only children. Susan Newman, author of Parenting an Only Child, sums up a major factor: "Women who want to have it all can have more of it by having only one child. With one child, you can still be the president of the PTA and advance your career." Experts also cite other reasons:
Women who marry when they are older tend to have fewer children. The corollary is "women who bear children later experience an increased amount of secondary infertility," Newman says. They are more likely to be unable to conceive a second child at an advanced age.
More two-career couples:
More women are postponing having children in favor of establishing a career track. And the wife's income is more apt to be seen as significant, Falbo says. "Having a second child is perceived as having a negative financial impact."
A high divorce rate:
A divorce decreases a woman's chances of having another child. And as women marry divorced men, they may only have one child because their husbands already have families, Newman says.
"More women are opting to have or adopt a baby on their own, and one tends to be the most they can manage," she says. And more "international adoptions give couples the opportunity to have a family, and generally, although not always, they adopt one child."
Karen S. Peterson,