Monday, February 6, 2012

The Omnichild's Dilemma?

I have it on pretty good authority that I am not pregnant at the moment and will shortly get a heaping helping of Shark Week funtimes. How's that for TMI? But it gives me a great excuse for getting peeved after reading Jennifer Graham's op-ed, the Omnichild's Dilemma (read it here). It's hormones, I swear!

Here, have an excerpt:
In the 1800s, the Harvard-educated psychologist G. Stanley Hall conducted a study of “peculiar and exceptional children’’ and concluded that being an only child is akin to having an incurable disease. He was wrong, of course. It’s not a disease, but child abuse...
Yikes!

I understand where Jennifer Graham is coming from - some of her points are valid(ish). Only children will likely be the only familiar caregivers their aging parents have. SOME only children will feel pressured to perform. But facts are facts. Being one of many is no guarantee you'll have help when it comes time to decide whether to put dad in a home. Many kids from big families feel plenty of parental pressure, and plenty of only children don't. And so on.

Don't you get the feeling that Graham's piece has more to do with her own feelings about growing up as an only child and a future that will see her making decisions for her aging mother than anything about actual child abuse?

Graham was on the radio today, which is how I heard about the op-ed in the first place. Over and over, she claimed it was meant to be heavily tongue-in-cheek, while still maintaining that the basic premise is sound. While, I should add, belittling children and their feelings. The worst part? When the interviewer asked about how her piece would go over with anyone who'd had miscarriage or lost a child, Graham essentially said "I hope they'd just stop reading after the first paragraph."

Indeed. As someone who ought to have had three children now and still only has the one thanks to miscarriage - a life-changing event Graham seems to simply brush off as irrelevant in her interview - I'm kind of glad that she's an only child. 

You know, considering how unpleasant she turned out.

5 comments:

  1. A-freaking-men. There have been times when having three siblings was the most delightful thing in my life and others when it was the worst, but would I be a different person without them? Um...probably not. And I'm pretty sure that what my child gets -- full attention from two parents -- isn't abusive.

    What an awful thing for her to put in words.

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  2. Ack! I wouldn't trade my siblings for anything and I have friends that are only children who tell me they have always wished for siblings, BUT child abuse? Come on! I mean, all kids wish for SOMETHING, right? Is it child abuse that I wanted a unicorn and never got one? What about that Strawberry Shortcake doll that my friend had... my parents never bought me one. How abusive.

    Some people are silly and maybe we shouldn't read what they say :)

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  3. yea I am going to have to agree with Courtney wholeheartedly on this one... as the oldest of five siblings, I think that although I HATED it growing up, I would now have to say that having siblings did indeed teach me things that I wouldn't have learned otherwise (four people in three bedrooms now is no big deal when I grew up with seven people in three bedrooms), but mandating siblings seems pretty stupid. I'm pretty sure that kids turn out the way they do because of the love poured into their life, not solely because of the number of siblings they have. Just saying. :)

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  4. I'm not sure I want to go read that article. My brother always was and still remains one of my best friends and I can't imagine life without him, but I still think an only child is a VERY valid choice.

    Grumble. Opinions that like moderation often make my brain explode ;-)

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  5. Wow! What a ridiculous statement to make. I could go on radio and claim I was abused as a child because my mom had six children and being the oldest I was expected to help with child-rearing and babysit all the time instead of doing normal teenage stuff like hanging out at the mall. maybe I can get a book deal out of it. *sheesh*

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