Guess Who's Ruining the Traditional Family? Not the Gays

Jeanne Sager

one familyTo hear the conservative talk show blowhards hosts talk, the demise of the traditional family unit can be placed at the feet of America's gay population.

But as the National Organization for Marriage rolls out its bus tour to convince America that they should hate their gay neighbors for ruining the family, we've got to break it to them:

Sorry Rush, Glenn, et al. It's not the gays changing the family.

It's the average American parent.

Because as a TIME article that's getting a lot of press pointed out last week, the number of only child families is on the rise.

One and done, it seems, is the new "traditional."

Since the 1960s, the number of only children has doubled to one in five families (for a comparison: just 30,000 children in America are estimated to have gay parents). And if a look around my own circle is evidence, we're all bucking some serious tradition.

My grandparents had seven kids. My cousin and I each have stopped at one.

My friend is one of three. She's stopped at one.

And we are the younger generation of parents; all three had their kids in their 20s. We are just part of the equation, stymied as much by the threat of a $286,000 bill to raise just one child to adulthood (as estimated by the USDA) as we are our attempts to deal with our toddler and imagine handling another. 

In a culture that's impressed upon parents to give better than they got, that's become possible for many only by producing just one offspring to lavish with love, attention, and the nostalgia-heavy toys that prey upon our psyches.

It's easy to accuse us of giving in to our ability to spoil our kids, but an honest crunching of the numbers proves what you call spoiling we call putting food on the table and clothes on their backs.

The myth of the silver spoon is tarnished with a quick review of sales receipts not from Gucci or even Baby Gap, but the Old Navy sales rack. 

Further adding to the trend are the wait and see-ers, that growing number of women delaying childbearing until their late 30s in favor of a career start.

They have biology to blame for their numbers, but still they join us as members of the one and done club.

So what's wrong with this picture? In the case of a self-imposed reduction in the numbers of children being born, not much. We are not China with a one-child policy nor are we striving to implement some new eugenics, bowing to the call for greening our parenting by refusing to create.

Do you know any one and done families?


Image via Jeanne Sager

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