When are you having your next child?

Having a child is a wonderful experience. But it comes with a lot of pressures. The one pressure I can never understand is, “When are you having your second child?” There is almost a social consensus in India that only “four (parents & 2 children) is company”; two or three are incomplete. At times, the emphasis on having a second child is often greater than for the first. Are having 2 children the only path to parental nirvana?
A little peek into history. Natural selection is expected to have selected organisms that try to maximise their reproduction. The initial phases of evolution favoured larger families due to myriad reasons like low life expectancy, requirement for more hands for division of labour etc. However, as societies grew richer, family sizes reduced.
It’s true that just about everyone – from doctors to scientists, family to friends – have an opinion on baby timing and the ideal family size. Socially, there are many “reasons” advanced for having a second child – “It’s important to complete the set”, “Pairs are better”, “How will the first child learn sharing?” It is often said, the first child is for the parents, but the second one is for the first child. You could get accused of cruelty for depriving your first child of the right to a sibling. Becoming a complete mother reportedly requires at least two children.
In our parent’s generation having two children was an accepted norm. But it is true also that they generally got married younger and had children early after marriage. Things today are different. While I don’t believe that there is a magic number at which to have kids, I do believe in the merits of having a child at an earlier age thereby being more active and able to engage better with the child.
I feel the decision of having a second child (or even the first for that matter) is a personal one – best left to the couple who have to decide. They have to weigh the pros and cons. One should want to RAISE a child to motivate one to HAVE a child. It should be a joint decision and the couple needs to have understood each other’s points of view and concerns. It’s best not to deliver under pressure. With each new child, it’s important to think about how that baby is going to affect your lifestyle, finances, work, relationships, and, of course, your other kid. Every child is going to be different with unique physical and emotional requirements. You need to judge whether you are up to this task.
While practice makes for perfection, I doubt whether I would extend this adage to child rearing. Hence, people with more than one child are not necessarily better parents than their counterparts who decided on only one. Just by going through the process twice over, does not make them experts in this field.
My husband & I were lucky to become parents almost five years ago. At various points of time, we have discussed whether to have a second and have concluded that we are happy with one. We realized how much effort it takes. It gives us the joy of being parents, but it’s not too overwhelming to the point where we don’t have any time for ourselves or each other. It allows us to take short breaks as well when our parents happily offer to babysit our son. My husband and I both have siblings and share a wonderful relationship with them but we feel this is the way to go for us. Also, since we generally have only one or two siblings as compared to a large number for our parent’s generations, we expect our child to grow up to be a lot closer to his cousins. So the next time someone asks, when we are planning to complete our family, I will simply say that “My family is now complete with a loving son and not just one but two loving daughters – one from my sister and another from my co-sister”.
This article was first published on Momspresso (erstwhile mycity4kids).

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