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November 22, 2004

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Lonesomes
Vanessa Grigoriadis’s “The Onlies” [November 8] hit some key points about the rewards and challenges of being an only child. Some individuals I know view being an only child as an affliction and use this perception to explain any faults or stereotypical behavior. Ms. Grigoriadis is sure to receive some snide remarks from her friends with siblings on a well-done cover story.
—Dara Tyson, Stamford, Conn.

After reading the parents’ comments about their only children—‘my best friend’ and ‘my little sister’—I think it’s the parents, not the children, who should be the focus of studies about one-child households.
—Janet Zwetkow, Jackson Heights, N.Y.

Vanessa Grigoriadis focuses on a minority of privileged children as if they are representative of all New York children. Not all city kids are as well provided for as the subjects in her article, nor is loneliness their most pressing problem. Poor nutrition, inadequate housing, and underfunded schools are crises affecting the majority of the city’s kids.
—Diane Pagen, The Bronx

As an only child, I really connected to Daphne Uviller’s comment about how she needs to hear that she’s beautiful and smart and loved every day. I, too, have told ex-boyfriends that I need to be reminded of those things, and they just didn’t understand why. I am glad that the article did not put us only children in a negative spotlight.
—Crystal Gethers, Manhattan

“The Onlies” demonstrates the stereotypically myopic view of someone raised without siblings. “In an only-child family,” she writes, “every member . . . is indispensable.” Would Ms. Grigoriadis mind joining us for dinner one night and identifying which of my sons—or my three stepchildren—is dispensable?
—Elizabeth Rogalin, Chatham, N.J.

I don’t begrudge any parent the right not to have more than one child, but is it necessary to raise mini-devils with bad attitudes who are too grown-up for their own good? It’s neither complimentary nor flattering for a parent to chat with children as if they were adults. When parents do not provide their children with boundaries, they end up in the penal system or on Dr. Phil.
—Baria M. Abdur-Razzaq, Brooklyn

As an only child and the grandmother of an only child in New York, I found the “I am loooonely” leitmotif compelling. I always made sure my children had extended family nearby to mitigate the loneliness of onliness. Ondine’s last words—“I like having all the attention for myself”—sound like she has found a way to accept her status as an only child; it’s the best any of us can do.
—Hilary Salk, Manhattan

I enjoyed “The Onlies,” but what struck me was the subtle implication that parents are somehow doing an injustice to only children by not providing them with siblings. At the age of 7 or 8, kids often want what they don’t have. That doesn’t mean getting what they want is the best for them.
—Christine C. Abrahams, Skillman, N.J.

Red-Handed
Did it ever occur to you that many people living and working in New York suffered gut-wrenching anxiety at the prospect of a Kerry victory [“Intelligencer: The Politics of Anxiety,” November 8, by Jacob Bernstein]? Are you just willing to perpetuate the belief among the left-leaning set that theirs is the only correct viewpoint? There are many well-educated, compassionate, and non-homophobic denizens of the blue states (some of whom, shockingly, are Jewish) who pulled the lever for George W. Bush. Our reasons for doing so were markedly different from those attributed to the religious right and the gun-toting crowd.
—Sari E. Greenberg, Short Hills, N.J.

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