We Two, Our One

So many are roaming around breathless just now. They just finished talking to me about the Merits of Having Two Children, or more. Truth be told, I am a little breathless myself. For looking for air space to explain my views. Got none, their enthusiasm for me to deliver another child far exceeding my own will to make another bundle.

But, I am happy.

We Two, Our One - Why Have Only One Child

Not just because I finally know I can make people breathless, but also because the arguments used for forwarding the idea of having more than one child are something I carry my own answers to. And that, our decision of ‘we two and our one’ is not taken merely because everyone says so or that’s-how-it-is, but because we are the parents who reasoned between ourselves and decided to keep it that way.

And when I look around I realize that in this we are not alone.

An increasing number of couples are opting for a single child. Reasons are aplenty, and some I share with them. ‘Late’ marriages which actually mean increased risk of fertility complications. The rising costs of living and managing a lifestyle one desires or deserves, after putting in years of education and work. Running a two-career household, with just about enough time to raise a child and often only to garner resources to bring up that one child well enough. Whoever I speak with has their own reasons to keep it single. And no, none seem to be bothered about certain negative stereotypes about only children.

I heard them too, those stereotypes, by well-meaning people who are parents to more than one child. I am told that single children often become lonely, for they lack a sibling to share sorrows with, or fisticuffs. I am told that the only child is, more often than not, spoilt, obstinate, selfish; even overly mature for their age. And also, that they remain unnaturally dependent on their parents. One of the couples who made no efforts to hide their curiosity in their loaded ‘Only one child?’ said something interesting. When I asked them why two in turn, the mother demurely told me it was planning for the future. When they will grow old and ailing, the burden of their care will be divided between the siblings, keeping it fair and easier for both pairs of shoulders. What could I say? I looked around. I saw the elder siblings usually taking care of the parents. I saw the boys being asked for support as a matter of right, even as the daughters who enjoyed equal education and salaries were considered another family’s custodians. Why, even siblings refusing to take any responsibility altogether. But then, this is a different issue altogether. I digress.

Coming back, I have heard enough reasons to have another child. I have also figured out equally many reasons, if not more, for keeping it single. And keeping it single it shall be, even if I have to face more ‘challenges’ as compared to multi-sibling households, if their spokespersons are to be believed.

And we are one in our ‘we two, our one’ motto – me and my husband. Should anything else matter?

What is my plan for my ‘we two, our one’ home?

  • Thoughtful parenting:
    I choose to keep the stereotypes associated with a single child in my mind. Not because I believe them, but because some of them are traits in themselves which I would prefer my child not to develop, much less enjoy. I do not want him to be thought of a certain way, just because I chose not to give him a sibling. Of course, that is simply me thinking aloud. Dreaming. Not just my child that I rear, but a whole personality is constantly taking shape, with as many chromosomal combinations as social influences governing the end-product, at any given point of time. There is just so much in the parents’ hands. Perhaps, not confusing obstinacy with self-confidence, answering back with wit and selfishness with sense of self-will help. I do believe it is the parenting style and even economics which has a greater bearing on a child’s mind than the presence or absence of a sibling.
  • Expectations in check:
    More often than not, the single child is burdened with the responsibility to row the parental ship of expectations with his two bare hands. Since we invest so much in our only child, somewhere, as is natural to, we start expecting a ‘return’ – be it in terms of performance in school or a certain magnitude of attention in older times. Sure, I have great expectations. But I will have to keep the galloping ones reined in. Keep my communication lines open at all times, and make sure he knows that no report card will ever be more valuable than the birth certificate which says that this is my child first.
  • Connection with other kids:
    My aim would be to involve my son in as many social activities as he may like to be a part of. As many family visits and vacations as his parents can manage with his favourite cousins and theirs. Let there be a network of similarly aged friends and cousins who keep him from feeling ‘single’, if at all single children feel that due to lack of a sibling. Let cousins become best friends, friends grow to be brothers and sisters. Of course, the parents need to make an effort to keep in touch with everyone but then again, the parents might learn a thing or two about getting along with their family members in the process too. Growing up together, close-knit.
  • Planning the resources:
    If I am keeping it single because I aim to give my one-and-only the best that our incomes can get, I need to plan right too. Cannot mean my wallet is his, or his daddy’s car will be soon as he turns 16. The tendency to over-spend on and indulge my boy with will be great. I will need to plan the resources not as ‘dispensable-since-I-have-just-one-child’ but spent sanely and in a sensible manner since I have only one mind I call my son, the shaping of which is in my hands. From toys to trips, tuition fees to gadgets – a little lock on my wallet will open for these only when I deem it right, not as a matter of his right since he is the only one, ready to be pampered.
  • Not feel guilty, ever:
    Social perceptions will take their own time to change. Evolve. Whereas the idea of a family is fast evolving already. There will always remain two sides to the coin. This decision, like so many others, is ours to make, to live, to enjoy. Our hands clapped together, because we wanted to focus on what is right for us and our family. And decisions taken thus deserve no guilt.

I know. Easier said than done, all 1-5. This is the theory, the practicals are yet to come. But put down on paper to remind myself we spent a lot of time thinking about this. And will spend even more putting it into action. Amen to that!

By the way, I am not a single child myself. I take this decision despite having grown up, and still growing, with a younger brother. Is he hurting for my decision to not have a sibling for my son? I wonder. The last I sat him down and mentioned my mind to him about parenting and children and relationships, and how I do not feel N needs a sibling, he took off his doctor spectacles and gave me hard look. Then said – ‘Were you talking to me?’ Don’t ask what I flung at him, even as you smile.

But I guess that settles it then.

We two and our one, only.

20131118One19241

Sakshi Nanda went from studying Literature to serving the print media and finally settling with two publishing houses who called her editor for a couple of hard-bounds, no more! She writes as a work-from-home mother to realize herself as well as to be read, both – with her 2-year-old boy and her sarkari babu beau as the greatest source of ideas and inspiration. She believes eating baby food is therapeutic and that the pen is man’s best invention, after diapers that is! Meet her at: sakshinanda.blogspot.in

  • Sid Balachandran

    Sakshi – Being an only child, I relate more to this post of yours than any other. The perception is far from true – about being spoiled, selfish, a loner…whatever and whatever nots:). Not to say that I’m not any of those things-that’s for people who know me to decide. I’ve often wondered how it would be to have a sibling, elder or younger, did not matter. At the end of the day, it comes down to one and only one thing – Parenting; And if you and A choose to go down that route, you seem to have everything planned. And personally speaking, being the single child has possibly helped me develop my biggest trait – Creativity; Even as a child, I used to write, and I used to imagine scenarios in my head. Crazy as it might sound, I’ve had lots of fun making up conversations and playing with my imaginary friends. Maybe that’s why I have a penchant for fiction :). Ok, that’s enough of my solitary childhood. Never ever feel guilty is all I can say – N will appreciate all the attention and love that you both have to give 🙂 But hey, that’s just one side of the coin. After all a best friend is a close substitute for a sibling, in a variety of ways.

    • This is VERY good to know, @iwrotethose:disqus. You are nothing that this negative stereotyping talks about. In fact, you are quite the contrary actually – warm, friendly and even a great parent. There – I said it. 🙂
      Yes, A and I have it all planned. But you know, practicals is something I was never good at in my class 12 PCB. I sure hope these ones will not require me to identify the salt by the colour or find the point of parallax. 😀 Of course, agreeing with your spouse and putting an ‘agenda’ on paper does help.
      Interesting idea – of imaginary friends. I grew up in a house teeming with children. I do hope his creativity develops just like yours. I admire your writings, and I am happy to know their source now.
      Thanks a lot for sharing your experience, Sid.

      • Sid Balachandran

        I’m glad you think so. I mean, that I’m the opposite of this “perceived singe child” syndrome. As for my parenting skills, I try – somedays I succeed, somedays I don’t. As for A & you, thats what matters the most. I’ll echo everyone else and say that the decision should be solely yours (the both of you, of course).
        Coming to my imaginary friends, to an extend I blame that on my reading habits. The only “teeming” with kids I experienced was during the summer holidays and other long weekends. So I suppose I had a good mix of imaginary and real “friends” 🙂

  • SriEA

    Love this post, Sakshi!!

    My daughter just turned 4 years old and there is a lot of pressure from relatives, friends and neighbours asking me about the second child..i am perfectly happy with my daughter and don’t intend having another child..

    Will re-read your post whenever I am in doubt!!

    Raising a child is a tough job and when you need to balance a career and parenting, its a tight-rope walk..

    We don’t have the support system that used to exist before..even grandparents are bit hesitant in taking up full time responsibility for grand-kids..

    • @SriEA:disqus I wonder if this post can be a guiding star. Most parenting posts are aspirations for and expectations from our tomorrows. I just like to put everything down, and share it for whatever it is worth.
      We certainly do not have the support system that used to exist before. The idea of Living Life itself has undergone a sea change.
      As long as we rest convinced with our ideas, things should be fine. 🙂

  • Rekha

    Lovely post again, Sakshi! And definitely it has to be a decision involving only the two of you. Parents themselves can act as sibling with the amount of time well spent with the child. And like for anything, there are no hardcore rules for parenting I feel. One, Two, Three or more, it doesn’t matter. What matters is the way you help the child grow up, the values that you imbibe in him/her, the way you handle his needs and his requests. People, society and their mindset can be left unheard. After all, ‘kuch to log kahenge, logon ka kaam hai kehna…’

    As much as I have read you, you are one lovely mother little N could have had and I believe the father too would be one best one that he could have had. Go on and build your dream home of ‘We Two and Our One’. 🙂

    • A nice thought there, @disqus_z6rV768TBF:disqus, that parents themselves can act as siblings by spending their time well. Surely, no rules for parenting. Doing our best, knowing the worst and keeping it full of love is what is needed.

      Thanks a lot, Rekha. I am sure when N starts his blog, he will dispel this myth of me being a good mother. 😛 He will have lots to tell people, just like his mom did! 😀

  • V ki Amma

    Oh yes Sakshi! Parenting and having children is always and say ALWAYS is a couple’s decision. To each his own. And I don’t see why the world should descend on you to have a child. Live your dream and amen! 🙂

  • There is nothing personal in our country…everybody from distant relatives to nosy neighbors to office colleagues every body is our well wisher and wants to peddle gyan about all matters that should be left alone. I think god gave us two ears for the very purpose to listen from one and discard from another. But as a father of two I must tell you there are certain advantages of having two kids ( See I could not resist the temptation to offer some free gyan…. 🙂 🙂

    • 😀 Free gyan from you is always welcome, @desitraveler:disqus 🙂 Is there a post where you compiled your thoughts in this. Not that I may get converted, no. But yes, would surely love to read it. 🙂
      And thanks for reading my point of view too.

      • I don’t think I ever wrote about the same, but the max pressure we had was not from outside but from our elder one…who had a constant demand for a sibling….So just wait and watch 🙂

  • Bindu Manoj

    Some of the most well behaved and balanced children I’ve seen are the only ones their parents have.
    As for kids taking care of their old parents, I really do not know how practical it is in this age. You just have to visit some areas in my native state Kerala to know how meaningless the thought is. There are huge concrete monstrosities inhabited by a lone parent or two who have more than ten kids (no, I am not exaggerating) all in Europe and the US of A.
    Ultimately it is how you bring them up and how convinced you are.

    • Very good to read this, @bindumanoj:disqus. I see the ‘concrete monstrosities with lone parents’ you speak about. I wonder how it will be when I reach that stage. 🙂
      We are convinced, no doubt. And I pray we bring our child up child well too, no matter how subjective this ‘well’ maybe! 🙂
      Thanks a lot for reading!

  • Don’t hide your face, @richasingh:disqus darling. Truth be told, I would have had 20 if it was possible and easy to have them and raise them.
    I agree with you. My bond with my kid brother is unmatchable and irreplaceable too. But then. I have to think of tomorrow in so many other ways too. I am sure when your turn comes, you will do good – level headed and wise that you are!

  • I like how you put it, @whatever2007:disqus. ‘Sacred decision’ – indeed!
    Thanks for your wishes and for reading! 🙂

  • Hahaha. Truth be told – I was not thinking of the country’s population but the population in my own home which I can manage best. And yes, the number stands at 1. 😀
    Thanks a lot, Anita.

  • shilpagarg

    This post reminds me of a thought I read sometimes ago on Facebook. It said, having one child makes you a parent; having two makes you a referee. Jokes apart… I am all for a single child and have only one. I have seen that all the arguments given about the cons of having a single child dont hold true for all. It is all about how you bring up your child!

    • It is about how we raise them, true @shilpagarg:disqus. Good to have got your ‘aye aye’ considering you too have chosen to go single. 🙂 Thanks a lot!

  • Diana Natasha Pinto

    I agree that there are many stereotypes attached to having one kid.
    But it does not apply to all kids. Most of the couples including me are
    in the dilemma of having a second child. I feel the ultimate decision
    whether to have one or two should be taken by the parents only as they
    would know where they stand and what’s best for their kid. After considering the pros and cons, I’m sure you have taken the right decision.

    • Yes, rightly said, @diananatashapinto:disqus. Most couples are in this dilemma of one-or-two. The very fact that couples are thinking on those lines goes to show that times are a changing, and lots of decisions are being taken keeping that in mind. So far, feeling confident about our One child decision.
      Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  • ParentEdge

    Very interesting post Sakshi. As the parent of a single child I concur with everything that you say and I really am not convinced when I hear arguments supporting multiple children.
    1. I have seen enough only children who are caring, considerate and thoughtful and enough children with siblings who refuse to share and are anti-social.
    2. My daughter has never missed having a sibling (neither did I!) and she is very happy playing with her numerous friends (too many, I feel) and also is very happy playing on her own with her dolls and toys.
    3. And in most families, no matter how many siblings, I have seen that it is most often one child who takes responsibility for her aged parents.
    4. Finally, I enjoy the fact that I have so much more time to spend with my daughter and so much more attention to give her – I don’t find it tedious to be her friend and companion and enjoy looking up activities to do together, and look forward to ferrying her around (all of which I may not have been able to do if I had more children).

    And of course, I must conclude by saying that many people I know who have only one child, have made this decision for sound financial reasons, which we must respect.
    I am not saying that a single child is the way to go, but for some of us, it is. So it would be good if society was more accepting of individual choices – after all, each to her own!

    Kritika Srinivasan
    http://www.parentedge.in

  • Reema Sahay

    Ha ha same old story, isn’t it? I don’t know who arrived at the magic figure of two! Well, for me the biggest reason is I cannot do it all over again, raising another child I mean. I try to give so much of myself in every step that I cannot imagine doing it all over again. Economics is another reason. Moreover, I don’t believe in stereotypes about single child. It depends so much on how you are raising them than how many you are raising.

    • “Magic figure of two” – 😀 @reemasahay:disqus
      Pretty much the same story my side too. I have given and will continue to give every bit of me to raising this one. I wonder if I am up to it all over again – physically and emotionally. Thanks for reading! 🙂

  • Tweetsmom

    I have two, a girl and a boy and am content. There are days when I long for another baby even though I know I can have no more. I look forward to grandchildren. When my daughter was small I never thought about another baby…but then I did and was so pleased when my son came and completed the family. I think it is personal preference. My daughter went to school with a boy who had 18 brothers and sisters and one on the way. Obviously they believed in having a huge family!! ♥

    • 18 siblings? Oh my! A bravery award, no less, should be given to the parents! And ‘huge’ is an understatement there. 🙂
      Wishing your lovely family lots of love and happiness, Tweetsmom.

  • स्वाति जैन

    ahan…interesting post Sakshi (as always)….
    u said it right, if parenting and social involvement is right, then even 1 kid is enuf….and if it’s not correct, then even more than 1 kid can’t do.
    I’ve seen siblings not talking to each other at all….and caring ones too…
    similarly, I’ve seen very responsible and independent single child and also an over pampered, selfish single child too….
    it all depends on the environment, nurturing, love and faith given to them….that decides on how the seed will sprout out…:)

    • Absolutely what I think, Swati. There are more forces at play in shaping a child’s mind and personality than a sibling. Thanks for reading! 🙂

    • Absolutely what I think, Swati. There are more forces at play in shaping a child’s mind and personality than a sibling. Thanks for reading! 🙂

  • Thanks for reading, @sugandhaagrawal:disqus

  • Anjali Agarwal

    Hi Sakshi! My warm appreciation for a well thought out article. However, it would have been interesting to know why you and your partner decided on the keeping it single. You have mentioned sufficient no. of times that it is final, but I failed to get a perspective on the reasons why you chose so. Also, The fact that you have used the reasons people gave you, for a second child, wisely to chart out a direction for better parenting is commendable but (what I feel as a reader) it also speaks of certain insecurities and doubts that you are trying to settle this way.
    You have also mentioned that you yourself have a very strong bond with your brother, I wonder if one can develop an equally strong connection with cousins or best friends, since they are raised in different families and sometimes even different circumstances than a sibling. I am keen to know your thoughts on this.