A Chinese friend of mine told me that his government’s single child policy is not without its problems. Apart from the economic consequences of facing the problem of an aging population and its resultant issues, the sociological ones are even more worrisome – with each child being brought up by working parents who indulge the child’s every whim, often with two sets of adoring grandparents who help raise him, the child grows up veritably thinking that he is a Chinese Emperor and is unable to accept any kind of opposition or setback as an adult.
While my daughter didn’t have such major concerns, she did feel that having a sibling helps in not only having a more balanced family life, but also reduces the pressure of performing which inevitably falls on the only child. So now that her 2 year old is almost ready to go to school, she is preparing for the second one to make her family complete.
My daughter, like all working mothers is torn between the demands of motherhood and a career. She actually has two 24×7 jobs, (one is her paid regular job and the other being motherhood) both of which are equally satisfying and demanding. Also, like most working mothers, she feels guilty about leaving him for hours at a stretch and overcompensates by spending all her free time with him.
The minute she comes home, mother and son rush into each other’s arms and spend the next few minutes doing cootchie coo before the little fellow takes her all over the house and shows her what he did that day. It’s really cute to see how he suddenly gets energized and talks nineteen to the dozen when she is around. Truly he performs for her, his stellar audience.
It is natural that she spends all her ‘free’ time with her son, especially since she has to prepare him for another sibling (a thought which he doesn’t seem to understand too well) as well as make him ready for play school – another challenge that he has to face in the near future as we know he is all too ready for increased peer interaction. Despite all the activities we plan for him, he shows a distinct preference for the girl who works to keep an eye on him, preferring her young energies to our old and jaded ones. I can also see him looking longingly at other little children in the club or in the park, hesitant to join them but desperately wanting to.
During the past few days, as my daughter’s D-Day is approaching, I can see a distinct change in my grandson’s personality. He is not only clinging more to his mother but also becoming more difficult with us, his care givers. I can see him actually being more stubborn, more assertive and sometimes plain adamant. His meltdowns are more frequent and it takes more effort to calm him down.
These frequent outbursts make my daughter worry about the balance in her home with a new baby. Suddenly the 2 year old will have to share his life with another child. And what is worse is that while his mother is in the hospital, he won’t be able to visit or see her because the hospital doesn’t allow children to visit. This is a fairly recent phenomenon because when my own second child was born, the elder one came to see both of us in the hospital and was happy to see me and even happier to see her sister!
Seeing things as they are made it easier for the elder sibling to understand and frankly even I’m dreading telling him where his mother is for the three days she will be away. How will this enforced parting from his mother make him more accepting of the new sibling?
But I reassure my daughter that having a sibling is a wonderful thing especially in today’s age when families are shrinking and cousins are people who keep in touch via Facebook. So I tell my daughter not to feel anxious about her 2 year old accepting the new one. Of course, there will be the initial anxiety and resentment especially when he sees what it was that kept his mother away from him but eventually he will be happy that he has someone else to share his parents’ attention and affection, another person on whom they can direct their anxieties and paranoia.
On the other hand, raising a child is not only a lot of responsibility but also an expensive proposition. Apart from the costs of education and other expenses, there is also the problem of child care. Will there be a loss of income for a few years? Will there be satisfactory child care? Child rearing does not stop after 18 years so do you have it in you to look after yet another one for a lifetime?
Well, like everything in life, this is a chance you have to take. My firm belief is that there is no gain without pain and looking after two children is far easier than having just the one. Just as you have double the trouble, you also have double the joy. Having a second child is not irresponsible nor is it mandatory but it’s definitely an option worth looking at if you have the ability to bring another child in this world and look after it.
What are your thoughts, your experiences about having a second child?
As a mother of two thirty-year old daughters and a grandmother of a nineteen week old grandson, Sunita Rajwade has been there and done that. A hands on mom, she has seen two girls grow successfully through babyhood, toddler hood, adolescence and adulthood; solving their maths problems and contributing to their angst of growing up with a mom “who doesn’t understand”. But now as a grandmother, she’s being appreciated for her “wisdom” and “understanding” and would like to share her experiences of this wonderful journey from motherhood to grand-motherhood.
Wish to read more thoughts on having a single child vs. having two kids? Read the articles below! 🙂