I was surprised that in "One and Done," Lauren Sandler barely mentioned the absence of siblings, brushing off the topic with a comment about "not necessarily missing what I don't have" [July 19]. As one of five siblings, I find it hard to imagine not having the range of emotions and experiences my brothers and sisters brought to bear on my existence. I look forward to having them around to remind me of where I came from, long after my parents are gone.
Phil Dailing, WOODSTOCK, ILL., U.S.
Thank you, TIME! I'm a parent of an only child, and I am so tired of hearing comments like "Oh, he must be lonely." I had a very difficult pregnancy and am so blessed to have my son. We are able to provide for his every need and give him our undivided attention, and we don't have to deal with sibling issues. (My husband and I both have siblings.) People choose to have one child for a variety of reasons; the choice should be respected. Do you go up to the woman with four kids and say, "Geez, when will you start using birth control?"
Andrea Lerum, DEFOREST, WIS., U.S.
Though Elvis Presley did grow up an only child, his situation differed from typical onlies in that he had a twin who was stillborn. His brother's death haunted him throughout his life.
David Meyer, ANN ARBOR, MICH., U.S.
The argument for the financial benefits of having one child might make mathematical sense, but family dynamics cannot simply be reduced to financial calculations. The best college education, unlimited one-on-one time with parents and all the music master classes in the world cannot match the very special joy of life shared with siblings. Single children are robbed of the immense healing power of grief shared with sisters, the weirdly wonderful sense of silliness between brothers and that magic moment when siblings recall the same hilarious childhood memory.
Marika Ireland, CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA
I will quickly tell you the strengths of my big family: the camaraderie, the give and take, the lifelong friendships. But I will also tell you the challenges: the chaos, the paucity of alone time with each child, the hurdles to help each develop into a unique self. Sandler's piece would have benefited from acknowledging there are downsides to not having siblings and upsides to a full house.
Sarah Nielsen, WESTON, MASS., U.S.
Beyond the statistics about how smart I'm supposed to be and the supposed financial savings of having one child, I, an only child and mother of two, can only say, "Don't stop there." Think further on down the line. Granted, there are cousins and friends in life, but nothing can fill the emptiness of the nobody-to-play-with-under-the Christmas-tree syndrome, of not having someone to share the agony of declining parents and of not having nieces or nephews to spoil nor aunts or uncles for my sons.
Rosemarie Brisciana, PARIS
Re "How India's Success Is Killing Its Holy River" [July 19]: The Ganges has a special relationship with India and Bangladesh. The Ganges flows along with our ancient histories and the stories of our origins. It's saddening we have failed to foster a consciousness for saving it. Without the Ganges flowing through our lands and into the sea, we will lose our identity.
Nurus Sakib, DHAKA
There are several factors behind the rapid deterioration of the environment in India: the existing desert in the northwest, the urban-centric policies of the government, the exploding population (and reluctance of populist governments to address it) and more. Although water-harvesting is mandatory in all housing complexes in New Delhi, implementation is very poor. More recently, the western state of Gujarat has set an impressive example in water-harvesting in drought-hit rural areas. The bottom line is that India needs long-term and multifaceted policies, which in the short term may not be popular, to tackle the problem of environmental degradation. India needs real foresight and courage from its policymakers.
Basanta Kumar Borah, BASEL, SWITZERLAND
Holy Sites Ignored
The article "A Perfect Day in Jerusalem" did not include a single Jewish holy site alongside the various churches and mosques mentioned [July 19]. This is quite a feat, considering that Jerusalem has been the religious and national capital of the Jewish people for more than 3,000 years.
Deborah Sinclair, JERUSALEM
Beyond the World Cup
Your column on Africa's future captured the zeitgeist of this place without shying away from the realities [July 19]. I am a graduate student, and through living here I am constantly inspired to have hope for the future and joy in the human spirit.
Lisa Kane, CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA