Rise of the Onlies

by Christene

Rise of the Onlies is an upcoming documentary about only children.

How I Heard About the Project

I'm an only child, as is my daughter, so the topic of Only Children is near and dear to my heart. I run the Parents of Only Children group on babycenter.com.

On June 6, 2011 there was a post written by Michelle Cove, a journalist, filmaker, and mother of an only. She's currently working on her second documentary called Rise of the Onlies exploring what's behind the rise in only children, where the stereotypes of only children come from, and why they persist in spite of having been disproved.

Michelle was looking to hear why members of the board decided on one, what we think the struggles & joys of parenting one are, and what, if any, generalizations CAN be made about only children. Mothers started posting responses right away, some also contacted her privately. (Before you go looking for the thread, it's since been removed by BabyCenter.) I was very excited to hear of this project and asked her if I can share it here.

Update: The film title has been changed to One and Only.

Michelle Cove

Michelle Cove

  • Editor of 614: the HBI ezine.

  • Writer and editor for national magazines including Psychology Today, Mother Earth News, Girls' Life and Family Fun.
  • Co-author of the national bestseller I'm Not Mad, I just Hate You!: A new understanding of mother-daughter conflict.

  • Director and producer of the award-winning documentary Seeking Happily Ever After: One generation's struggle to redefine the fairytale.

  • Author of the companion book Seeking Happily Ever After: Navigating the Ups and Downs of Being Single without losing your mind.

The Documentary

After making her first documentary Seeking Happily Ever After Michelle Cove understood the blood, sweat, tears that goes into taking on such a project. She vowed she was done with films—unless something truly irresistible came up.  Then the idea struck: Michelle, mom to an only child by choice, became fascinated by the world of one-child families, the fastest growing family type in the U.S. So once again, Michelle picked up her video camera and started shooting her next feature-length documentary Rise of the Onlies.

“When my husband and I decided to have one child, I didn’t bother doing any research about this choice or what it might mean,” Michelle says, “in spite of the fact that as a journalist, I over-research all my choices. I just knew one felt right to us and figured we’d deal with any issues around being an only child if and when they came up. Now that my daughter is six—with an established personality—I find myself curious to know what parts of her personality might be attributed to being an only child and what parts are just her. So I started digging into the research and have been amazed at the findings.”

Michelle will be exploring why one-child families are the fastest growing family type in the U.S.; what stereotypes of only children still exist, why they persist, and which can be debunked; what, if any, generalizations CAN be made about only children; and how the growth of one-child families will impact everyone—culturally, environmentally, economically.

“I will say this, there is definitely a desire among one-child families to show that these kids are NOT the ‘lonely misfits’ they’re still portrayed as and a hope from parents that this project will make the public less judgmental about the choice to have one.”

Right now she is interviewing experts in the field, only children, and parents of only children around the US. If you’d like to share your own story or perspective, visit www.oneandonlythemovie.com and use the contact form on the website.

I plan to add updates here as I find them.

Rise of the Onlies

The percentage of American women

having only one child has

more than doubled in 20 years,

to almost one in four.

Related Links

One and Only
The official site of the documentary.

Parents of Only Children
A group for parents of Onlies by choice or circumstance.

Only Children
A Squidoo lens about being and raising an only child.

Michelle Cove on Twitter

Updated: 01/05/2013, Christene
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emeraldmile on 10/20/2011

I will be interested to see what she finds out about only children. My niece is an only child by situation and my sister always feels guilty she does not have a sibling, but she is strong and independent. Besides she gets tons of attentions and doesn't have to share it with siblings.

WordCustard on 07/18/2011

Sounds like an interesting documentary. I can imagine that onlies get to enjoy some very real benefits and I'm not convinced the negatives are quite as they are portrayed -- most children have access to playmates of the same age, and siblings of different ages and temperaments aren't necessarily going to be the wonderful companions for one another that parents hope and often expect them to be.

Pastiche on 06/22/2011

I had two almost onlies ... my daughters are 8 years apart. Not the same, but the issues did cross my mind at times. My younger daughter is now struggling with this as she has one adored happy toddler and at 36 is not sure whether to expand the family or cherish her only. I'll share this article on the rise of the onlies with her for inspiration.

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