One child, Two children or None? PART 2
WHAT SHOULDN'T GUIDE YOUR DECISION?
Your best friend decision- Best friends are truly ‘BEST,’ but their choices and decision cannot and should not influence yours unless the best friend is ready to participate in bringing up your child. Just because your best friend is pregnant with her second child does not mean you should too. She will not pay for your child's upbringing, nor will she come to support you in raising the child. The ride is only yours, and only you know what to do.
Family pressure- Much the same way, just because your aunt, your mother-in-law feel that you should have a second child, you should not jump into the breeding assignment. Exactly, it's not an assignment, and you (along with your partner) have to raise the child. Ask them- are you ready to support me financially, emotionally, and physically?
Spur of the moment craving- Maternal cravings are innate in us. First, we want a child, then we feel like having another. What if we feel like another and then another? We are wired to love babies, but pregnancy, delivery, and raising a child go beyond cooing, chuckles, and wet kisses. Let the moment come and go. If it stays, think about it.
Because everyone says so or has two- This is by far the strongest reason because it hits where it hurts the most. It hits us emotionally and right where our heart is. All the more when we see hear a second child babbles next door. I agree, these statements are true and sweet, and it's a blessing if these statements were to come true. For many, these statements are the driving force to have a second child. Agreed. But are these statements good enough for everyone? NO.
Should these be the reason for having a second child? If not for this blessing, will the single child be a loser? These are the sweetest and heartfelt words but not necessarily universal in nature. A single child is no loser. And because siblings are forever glorified, let’s explore their domain.
So, what does everyone say?
- Your only child will feel lonely.
- I did not want to devoid my first child of the happiness of a sibling.
- A sibling is a lifelong friend with unconditional love.
- Siblings keep each other engaged and hence no problem in raising them.
- It's a blessing to see them care and love each other. It's a treat to the eyes and the heart.
- You may have a lifetime of regret.
- My only child will be alone in the world after me.
- Parents who have a single child have shown the best form of selfishness.
AGREED. There is truth in feeling this way. These can be governing emotions for many parents to have a second child, and they are absolutely right. The problem erupts when these feelings are labeled as the universal truth… because it’s not universal.
There is a difference between being alone and lonely. Loneliness is not a challenge given to the single child. All of us, at various points of time, irrespective of the number of people around us, have felt lonely. I felt lonely while growing up in a sibling family ...because nobody understood me. Solitude is not synonymous with loneliness and often strengthens character. As one psychotherapist explains, only children tend to have stronger primary relationships with themselves.
Lifetime regret? Really? Having no regrets is an attitude for life in general and not for one particular situation. If you make an informed decision, there aren't any regrets.
To give company to your only child- So your first child wants a company? Great. You bring the second one. What if they want a team to play soccer within the family? It's beautiful to think of your second child as a companion to your first one, but that shouldn't be the reason to govern your decision solely. Siblings of the opposite gender are hardly playmates; siblings with few years of age gaps are hardly playmates. A friend is a friend, and a sibling is a sibling. They don't replace each other. Thinking and expecting that a sibling will be a lifelong friend, and hence you don’t need friends in your life, is unrealistic because both are different kinds of relationships, and both bring out a different person in us. A sibling brings out the sister in me who is different from a friend in me. A three children family witnesses three sets of friends, and each child pursuing friendship in his/her own unique way. Many times, they don't even have common friends.
To see them love each other - Have you heard that seeing the siblings love and care for each other is heavenly? Well, it is. It's sweet to see the older sister caring for her little brother or, the older brother getting all protective of his younger brother. But isn't it overrated? Is it the only heavenly thing one can witness or experience in life? Is the single child, therefore, missing out on the heavenly feeling? Will he never have a heavenly feeling of any other type?
Siblings fight too. Bad, terrible ones and severe personality mismatch create enough tension in adolescence to drive parents insane. Possible/not possible? Yes, it's beautiful and nice, but that can't be the reason for having a second child just to witness the beautiful and nice. For it’s not always beautiful and nice. Are you also prepared for ugly and bitter? Don’t set unrealistic expectations and let them govern your decision.
I didn't want to deprive my first one of the blessings and happiness of having a sibling- You may regret it later. You won't be able to give your child everything anyways. While it's beautiful to think that way but realistically speaking, just giving a sibling does not create a lifetime blessing of happiness. There will be 'unhappiness' in your child's life and of various kinds. How long can you go building a protective wall? Great, you gave a sibling, but both children can have their own roller coaster ride. Do you prepare for everything? Do you ensure you give it ALL? No. You just cannot. If you and your partner decided not to have a second child, so be it. Your first child will have that space empty but other space filled up. Much the same way that siblings will have some other space empty and some filled up.
To ensure that after you, your child is not all alone in the world. To give him a lifetime friend. This was the issue people felt most viscerally about when deciding whether they wanted to have one or more children. That's a beautiful thought too. As parents, we want to ensure the safest, the best for our children till we breathe last and even after that. Respected. But life doesn't unwind that way. After you are dead, you still want to worry about your child? Go and explore hell and heaven and leave the earth to your child. Jokes really apart.... after your death, you are also going to leave your children alone...be it one or two or three. What if the older sibling died too? Things happen, and all kinds of things happen.
The biggest challenge in today's time is to ensure a child connects to another child. It's hard anyway, considering that his first connection is a gadget and not a human being. Siblings come later.
Much against our wishes, we cannot provide everlasting happiness, safety, and security for our children. Think about it.
To have a backup ready if something happened to your only child. Writing in itself is gives a punch to my stomach and nails my heart. Going through such tragedies is unthinkable. But if such a tragedy was to befall on your only child or your older child who has a younger sibling, IT WOULD PAIN ENORMOUS EITHER WAYS. There is no safety net here. Think about it.
Finally, the accusation of being a selfish parent who didn't care to give their child a sibling. Quite possible that they were selfish because they knew their limitations and decided to give their best to one child rather than compromise with two or three.
Reality check before you go ahead.
The above-mentioned factors (which are primarily emotional in nature), when coupled with a realistic assessment of the below-mentioned factors (a practical point of view), will help you decide whether you should have a child, have a single child, or a team.Physical well-being- You should be physically fit to bear, deliver and raise the child. It's no small feat. Once conceived, the body of a woman has to bear 9 months of pregnancy and post-delivery recovery and bringing up the baby. What went for the first child goes for the second child. People tend to underplay the raising of the second child by saying, ‘the second one grows on his own, but it's easier said than done. Being physically fit and ready is definitely a prerequisite. Think about YOURSELF and your health.
These factors are not in order of importance. Rather they all go together as being 'IMPORTANT.'
These factors are not in order of importance. Rather they all go together as being 'IMPORTANT.'
Financial strength- ‘Many hands, many earning’ doesn’t work for people who are reading this. We belong to a different stratum of society. It doesn't take a penny to make a baby. A mischievous sperm and a beautiful egg, hook up and bingo...here come the baby. Once conceived, the expenses start, and then there is no looking back. And mind you, we are not talking about branded bringing up. We're not talking about how a single child can get all branded stuff. A normal middle-class family may not be able to afford a branded living, even for a single child. Working in a private job also requires saving for the future. Looking at the escalating expenses of necessities, schools and extracurricular classes, and higher education later, it's important to assess if you are ready for a second child. Mother-in-law says- ‘everyone comes with their own destiny, and everything works out. But you can't bring the second child thinking destiny will come and help you. Be realistic and appraise your financial health and expenses. Check out your first child day to day expenses and then double it. Don't forget household expenses and regular living expenses. You need not worry about the future, but you definitely need to put some plan in place for your after-retirement life and your children's higher education. I agree- you can't plan everything. But you can't leave it on destiny alone. Think about it. Maybe/Maybe not.
Emotional and mental balance- A happy mum raises a happy child. Reflect on your journey with your first child. Assess yourself as a person and see whether you can take it all from scratch. People say- it's easy as the first child is also there to take care and engage the second one. But the first one is just a child and not a parent. The only thing which the first one does good is keeping the little one entertained. But is that a good enough reason to have a second child? The challenges don't cease. Your husband is running a marathon in his career, quite possible you are too or not. Either way, if you do not have the emotional faculties to handle everything from the start-----alphabet A....you will keep slipping and repenting at the next alphabet that comes. Also, mothers who don't have much patience and threshold of endurance can handle things, and crises better with one child as the level of frustration can be moderated. It's really your assessment. Nothing changes except the entertainment part for which you can depend on the first child. Right from pregnancy hormones playing tricks on your mood and post-delivery hormones further tricking you ---------------------------to sleepless nights, toddlerhood, and regular day challenges, it's important to have an emotional balance. Yelling at your child's spills, venting out your physical and emotional exhaustion on your little one is all a reality. They were a reality even for your first child. And going through these swings does not make us a bad mom. A mom is, after all, a human, and she is entitled to her imperfection. AGREED. It's when yelling, anger bursts, depression become an everyday pattern that problems arise. Not everyone is made for the second baby. If you have a social support system, that's an excellent thing to have. Please remember, babies are beautiful and extremely lovable. One look at them when they are sleeping or when they first utter 'mamma' melts your heart, and you find all challenges worth it. I agree. But raising a child goes beyond cuckooing. Think about yourself.
Your vision for your marriage and family- How do you and your partner visualize marriage and family is important. If your partner wants a second child, it's really between both of you to decide along the parameters mentioned above. If both you mutually decide on two children or a single child and give proper thought to the parameters mentioned above, then VIOLA.
From maladjusted single child to maladjusted siblings, from academically well off only child to talented siblings, from a spoilt single child to a spoilt younger sibling...research has all kinds of data. And why only research? You look around, and you will find all kinds of combinations, and there cannot/should not be a value judgment about it.
Haven't you seen a ------------?????????????????????????????????????
- Terribly stubborn younger sibling?
- A lonely middle born?
- A highly sociable single child?
- Well-bonded, absolutely in love, siblings?
- Siblings who are much more than BFF(best friend forever).
- Siblings who are emotionally disconnected from each other and don't care once they are on their own.?
- A spoilt single child.
- an extremely talented first child and the younger one who struggles academically or socially.
So we see, it's all there—all KINDS. There are no generalized conclusions about single child or siblings. The ones who judge are disrespecting the uniqueness of every child. The ones who have a sibling have their share of blessings and challenges, and so do the ones who don't.
It's not a debate anymore which a mom having a single child has to defend or a mom having two children has to justify. It's just a personal choice of that parent based on personal life circumstances, and mind you - you are no one to judge that.
Dear mums of a single child or siblings- Try to refrain from glorifying your decision, for each decision has its challenges and blessings. When someone asks you for advice, especially if someone is contemplating a second child and you are the mum of two children- refrain from offering free advice such as – ‘I have two, and it's a blessing to see them love each other, I just hope you don't regret later.’ Won't it be nice if you said something as simple as 'It's your choice really?'
Siblings don't guarantee lifelong love much the same way that being single doesn't guarantee lifelong loneliness. And you will feel the pinch... now and then... I suggest writing it down in your diary why you made this decision in the first place.
Never forget that it happens that decisions that look appropriate today may look inappropriate at a later time. That is not only with one child vs. two-child decision but life in general. It happens to many of us and in many aspects of life. It's important to always remember the thoughts, the rationale, and the circumstances that went into making the decision in the first place. With the change in thoughts and change in time, it can pinch, but you cannot undermine the importance and relevance of the time frame in which you made the decision. Having no regrets is an attitude for life and not only for one child vs. two children. Remember that.Click on the link for PART 3