“The more YOU love your decisions, the less you need others to love them”.
Selfish. Inconsiderate. Unfair. Some of the many words used by society when you don’t live up to their expectation of the perfect family size. Shame on you if you don’t want children. So terrible to only have one child. How could you have such a big age gap between your two children? Some of the many phrases others lay on you about your family. When did it become acceptable to tell others how bad they are for their choice in family size? Specially in the world we live in today. Many years ago, when our parents were growing up, it was normal to get married and have multiple children. Things are not like that anymore. The world has become more expensive, more dangerous and people’s focus and goals aren’t the same as what they were 30 years ago. People are very career oriented. There is nothing wrong with that. People have different reasons for doing different things, but it is each family’s choice on how they want to form their family and no one should pass any judgement on that.
The “age gap” convo
You have your first child. Baby is barely sitting up straight and people want to know when the next child is coming. You literally want to run and hide when you hear that because you barely slept the previous night, you have milk “icky” on your shirt and you smell like poop. If someone feels ready to have a second child right away, that’s great. But the pressure to have a small gap between children is just not alright. Imagine really wanting another child, in the future, but people telling you it will be unfair on the first born to wait any longer so you must have that second child now. “They won’t be friends” or “they won’t have anything in common”. I have seen sibling rivalry in children close together AND children with bigger age groups. Personalities clash. It’s just how it is. It’s not to say if you have your kids a year or two apart, they will love each other. They may not get along at all. You may have constant screaming matches while having to pull them apart. That isn’t something you will know until you actually have the children.
“Sibling rivalry can lead to the bitterest competition”
My question is, when did we have to plan these things down to the T. Shouldn’t you wait till you, as a couple, are ready to have another child? Now you are having another child because you feel you must at that moment. This can lead to resentment, emotional stress and post-partum depression because you have too much on your plate. Some even going as far as to say if it doesn’t happen in the next few months then they are done. Willing to give up even though they really want another child, just because the gap between the children isn’t as precise as you wanted it. As much as having babies can be planned, it can also only be planned to a point. The point is: do what makes YOU happy.
The “only child” convo
Something people seem to have the biggest problem with. Your child will be lonely. Your child will be spoilt. Your child will not learn to share. The last 2 is not based on whether or not your child has a sibling. That is entirely based on how you raise your child. Many people have various reasons for only wanting one child – finances; relationship troubles or even just plain choice. So just like some choose to have 3 children, some choose to have 1. Why isn’t anyone telling people not to have 3 or 4 children? When and how did society decide what is normal? Why should I force myself to have another child when I really really don’t want to, just because of the “only child stigma”? An only child gets upset about not wanting to share and the general response is “that’s to be expected from a single child”. A child with siblings does the same thing and no judgement is passed. I find it very valid to only have one child because of finances. Life has become expensive. The individuals commenting on this have zero idea what is going on in someone’s financial situation, yet they say “you will never have enough money for a child, but you will cope”. What if I don’t want to “cope”? What if I want to take that extra family holiday with my loved ones, or send my child to a fantastic school because I have that option or because that is my choice? Or what if my finances are so terrible that I can barely uphold the one child? These are valid reasons and battles someone may be facing. We need to be a little more sensitive in this regard. For me personally, I get super overwhelmed at times with my little one. I love her to bits. We will continue to give her all the love in the world & she will be our only. That is our choice & it doesn’t make me a bad mother or one disadvantaging her child. Some research:
At the end of the day…
The ONLY two people that get to decide how many kids, if any, are the parents. The parents know what they can afford, what their goals in life are, what they want for their children and what they can handle as individuals. We, as society, as mothers, as friends and family, need to stop putting pressure on others. You don’t know what battle someone is facing, so be kind. Instead of “when is the next child coming?” ask “are you planning more children or not?”. Listen to their reasons, their choices. Only parents get to decide what is best for their family. Not society, not family, not friends, not social media. Whether you want no children ever, only 1 child, 5 children, 3 children born within a year apart or 4 children born over 20 years, you do YOU! There is nothing wrong with asking, with showing interest. But judgement is never okay. Be kind, be understanding.