In her review of Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After in the Christian Science Monitor, Teresa Mendez writes:
According to DePaulo, only in the past decade have personal circles shrunk to squeeze out all but a soul mate. "Where once the tendrils of love and affection reached out to family, friends, and community…" she writes, "now they surround and squeeze just one person – sometimes to the point of asphyxiation."
I disagree. I do think personal circles have shrunk, but not because of the dominance of a soul mate. They have shrunk because of the emergence of kids as the dominating force in families.
I’ve been talking about this with my school friends for a couple years — despite being the benefactors of such grandiose focus, it still raises questions like, "If and when I become a parent, how will I possibly maintain social friends or pursue personal hobbies if kids are such an all-consuming effort?"
I do think the emergence of kids as kings is uniquely American. For one, it seems to be glorified in our national media, and two, I didn’t witness anything similar in my travels in Europe and Asia.
This past holiday season, for example, my family received several Christmas cards from other American families. Several of them only included the kids in the picture, not the parents. You know something is wrong when parents are ousted from their own Christmas card.