Not long ago, a reader requested discussion of the topic of having "only" one child. Apparently, this a a topic of raging discussion in the reader's research group. I was curious about this, and in particular, wondered what is so controversial about the topic.
You might think that I'd have some expertise on the subject, as I have one -- and only one -- child, but if the controversy is related to having one child when you really want to have more than one, then I have no insight into this question. I didn't want more than one child, so I didn't have more than one child. One feels just right for our family; it wasn't a sacrifice or a compromise or a disappointment. We are happy as a family of three.
Also, my daughter has many friends who are "only" children in their families, so being an only child does not seem like a strange situation to her or to us.
The people to ask about one vs. more than one are people like GMP and Prof-Like Substance.
I know there is a common perception that only children are spoiled and/or lonely, but from what I've seen, children with siblings are not obviously better adjusted than siblingless children. This conclusion is based on subjective, anecdotal observations (a.k.a., my life as a parent of one). There are probably awesomely flawless and compelling studies that show that children without siblings are more likely to be axe murderers or politicians or something, but that is not yet apparent in the kids I know who are my daughter's age and younger. I guess we'll see how things turn out later.
Of course we can't read too much into one random query from a reader of a blog, but does a raging debate about one-child vs. more-children indicate that discussions among female scientists in academia have (mostly) moved on from wondering whether they can have even one child (or a career as an FSP) to whether they can have more than one child (and a career as an FSP)? I hope so.
11 months ago