Timeless October/November 2021 - Page 30


We ’ re Number Two ! We ’ re Number Two !

By Terri Schlichenmeyer Syndicated Book Reviewer

Good things come in pairs .

Salt and pepper . Ketchup and mustard . Bread and butter . Two peas in a pod . You can ’ t imagine one without the other , side by side , yin and yang , maybe brother and sister ? Or maybe not ; is it better to have one child , to be an only , or does a kid need a sibling ? In the new book “ Second Thoughts ” by Lynn Berger , science steps in .
When she looks at the photo taken moments after she learned she was pregnant again , Lynn Berger wonders if her toddler daughter was precognisant . The girl ’ s face had an “ ominous ” look – coincidence , perhaps , or a sign of “ what was about to happen .”
As with all parents , her first child was a “ miracle ” for Berger and her partner , but would that describe their second pregnancy ? In giving her daughter a sibling , Berger was taking things away from the girl , attention being one . In being second-born , her son would automatically be denied what his sister had had as an only child , however temporary .
Berger realized that there are “ surprisingly few words for this particular new experience .”
Many people counsel parents to have a second child “ for ” the first , forgetting that siblings can make one another “ miserable .” As an eldest child herself , Berger remembers big battles with her younger sister ; her sister also recalls memories that aren ’ t fun , though the two are closer now . To further complicate things , Berger found research suggesting that fewer siblings means fewer playmates , which may actually increase sibling rivalry . Other research says that intense rivalry is rare , in the long run .
As for parents , of course , a second child in the house has its effects . There ’ s the worry about time , and having enough of it to go around . Mothers usually take the larger share of caretaking , but the balance is more equal each generation – although income disparities have widened . The bottom line , says Berger , is that kids are more resilient than we think they are . And so are we . As you ’ re reading “ Second Thoughts ” many things may go through your mind , the first being that it seems so few people
Photo Credit : Judith van Ijken Author Lynn Berger
have , well , thoughts of the kind that author Lynn Berger has on the impact of a second offspring . Odd that that ’ s so , considering the widespread , oft-shared social mythology that exists about only children , which Berger generally blows apart .
Indeed , there are a lot of mistruths laid to rest inside this book , starting with what may be the biggest consideration : on time , parents will take comfort in knowing that it isn ’ t really as much of an issue as they may think . Sibling rivalry is likewise not a big worry , nor is any so-called “ birth order .” In short , this book eliminates many arguments but be aware that financial issues are not one of them , other than in income differences .
Interestingly enough , this is also a good book for parents who are thinking about a third , or fourth child ... or even a first . For any parent-to-be , “ Second Thoughts ” could be a good thing to read .
“ Second Thoughts : On Having and Being a Second Child ” by Lynn Berger , 208 pages , c . 2021 , Henry Holt $ 25.99 . •••
If you ’ re thinking Baby ? Maybe , then look for “ Hunt , Gather , Parent ” by Michaeleen Doucleff , PhD , a book about parenting throughout history and what today ’ s parents can learn from our ancestors . If it ’ s a boy , then find “ To Raise a Boy ” by Emma Brown , a book that will help parents help their sons with the ups and downs of boyhood . And if you ’ re concerned about the welfare of all children , then look for “ Children Under Fire : An American Crisis ,” a particularly urgent and relevant book by John Woodrow Cox .
• Terri Schlichenmeyer of The Bookworm Sez is a self-syndicated book review columnist . Schlichenmeyer ’ s reviews include adult and children ’ s books of every genre . You may contact her at bookwormsez @ yahoo . com