What is wrong with having only one child? We all know the debate. Single child is a spoiled rotten child. Single child is very lonely and (s)he needs company. Or it could be just to conform to society stereotype of 2 kids, a girl and a boy, perfectly spaced at the age gap of 2-3 years. Isn’t it a picture perfect?
I am not going to drill you with the pros and cons of one or more. I just want to share our experiences of trying to disturb this equilibrium of 2-child norm. Everyone (note the missing “almost”) has the right to ask me this question “When are you having a second one?” It’s not “Are you having a second one?” It is just assumed that we as parents are conformant.
Telling these people that we are not ready or that we do not want one more kid is not enough, apparently. There has to be a reason, they say. What more reason do you want when the parents are saying they are not ready for another lifelong commitment?
My kiddo’s teacher even has a special category in her notebook for kids without siblings with a tiny sad emoticon next to it, I am not kidding! Of course, extended family and relatives earned this right the very day I earned the title “the wife”. And that’s OK to an extent, they are family. But those who are not at all related, like this general practitioner doctor who was treating me for viral flu, kiddo’s pediatrician, old acquaintances, cashier at the supermarket and even a stranger aunty sitting next to us in public bus has the right to ask this question and offer their advice.
My bosses and their spies at office can’t stop guessing about when I am going to have my second child. They want to know the answer to this question just as a well wisher. They don’t think that I could stop at one. An acquaintance of mine got offended when I told her that we are not planning to have a second one any time soon. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Why on earth wouldn’t I have another kid? She said something like “You should of course have another one, It’s your duty! Also you are young!” All I did was to blush and thank her for calling me young. That lady didn’t find it amusing and hasn’t spoken to me after that conversation. She has it all figured out – I am a selfish person who is doing a major disservice to the human kind by stopping at one.
For others it is a joke. A college friend, unmarried, joined our family for lunch. Kiddo was bored stuck in between the adult’s conversation. Immediately comes the response from this friend “You should have another kid. She needs a companion”. I described to him the scene of how our lunch meeting would be with another baby on tow. He argued that the kids will get along once the second one reaches a certain age and they won’t trouble us at all. I asked him how many times his parents had punished his brother and him for getting into fights. He was thoroughly amused. He said, “It will be fun to see you juggling with your kids!”
I am not saying that everyone should just stop at one. I am just saying that this decision is for the parents to make. Raising a single child doesn’t have to mean that the parents are mean, horrible or selfish! Parents should not be obligated to have a second one. I don’t have to tell how annoying this question is if you have faced the others – “When are you getting married?” “When are you giving us the good news”. For every article that talks about single spoiled child, there are equal, if not more, articles about how being a single child benefits the kids well being. It depends on what one is looking for.
Like everything else in parenting this is also a personal decision. Don’t get me wrong, I am not offended. Who knows, we might change our mind and have a second kid after all! But that will be only when we are ready. It will not be because our first one needs a companion or because that’s the norm or because the general practitioner needs to know about my second child to treat my flu!
Divya Rao is a mother to a 4 yr old bundle of joy. She has one eye set on growing her career and the other watching and enjoying her little one grow up.