Rabbi Shmuley Boteach wrote a lament Aug. 13 about one-child families. I share his concerns.
I am an only child and the parent of two children. I am amazed and disheartened by recent media focus on one-child families, which supports the “instant gratification” society. Have one child, and a yuppie couple can still consume and be happy. Of course, life is not so simple.
Throughout my life, I have encountered many other “only children.” All of us share a bond, filled with some regret at missing the experience of having siblings. All of us know the epithet “all the gain and all the pain.” All of us face the difficulty of caring for aging parents by ourselves.
On one point, Rabbi Boteach and I diverge. Talking about the Islamification of Europe in a piece about only children makes little sense. One might also mention the fact that China, with its one-child policy, is also taking over the world. Muslim and Latino families do not have many children because they love their kids more. They do so for cultural reasons. And they fit long-known models of human behavior. Poor and middle-class families have more children. Affluent societies have smaller families. Social scientists can explain why.
Parenting is difficult. But in the end, children are our greatest joys and legacy. L’dor v’dor.