Singletons

The world of only children

Is Cindy McCain Really an Only Child?

Or does she just feel like one?

Her "sister" doesn't think so.

McCain says she is. She's said she's an only child repeatedly in major national interviews. I think she would like to be--especially right now. Her inheritance from father and beer baron, Jim Hensley, would indicate she's an only child, but for the $10,000 left to her half-sister, Kathleen Hensley Portalski, 65. They look remarkably alike.

Cindy has another half-sister, Dixi Burd, from her mother's marriage before marrying Hensley. She's older, but is that a reason to deny her existence, too? I haven't seen a picture of Burd and I wonder if she resembles Cindy McCain having had the same mother. As far as I can tell Burd is keeping quiet.

You don't have to be best friends or spend holidays with your half-siblings, but when your husband is running for the top office in the country, it would be wise to recognize your father and mother's other children. If you don't, someone else will.

No public acknowledgment of two sisters who share your bloodline seems odd to me given the number of divorces, remarriages, half- and step-siblings in this country. This "oversight" would not be so controversial or damaging if Cindy McCain had simply been honest. She could have said, "I was raised as an only child. I have two half-sisters, but didn't live with them or see them very often."

The McCain campaign issued a statement saying roughly that AFTER the media pounced on the NPR interview with Kathleen Hensley Portalski's son, Nicholas, and Kathleen. Kathleen told one reporter, "I was his [her father's] family, too...I saw him at Christmas and I spent my birthdays with him." Jim Hensley was generous with Kathleen and her family until his death when all support to the Portalski's ended.

Is Cindy McCain an only child? In a New York Daily News poll 75% of respondents said no. What do you think? Is all the hoopla just about wills and money? Or, is it a question of semantics and how one defines being an only child?

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Susan Newman, Ph.D., is a social psychologist and author. Her latest book is The Case for the Only Child: Your Essential Guide.

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