How do you handle pressure to have another child?
I have a wonderful two-year-old daughter, who is beautiful and bright. Yet I have no desire to have another child. A few factors come into play here. I am 37. I have stayed home the past couple years, and I miss my career, and I'm afraid if I stay out of the work force any longer, I'll be out permanently. In addition, my daughter still has never slept through the night, despite rounds of sleep training. Frankly, my husband and I still feel exhausted, and we can't imagine feeling ready to have another child. We live in the suburbs, and the attitude here is that you are damaging your kid if you don't "give" her a sibling. Both family and strangers feel free to give me advice that I should have another child--now. The implication is that only children are sad and lonely, the product of selfish parents who work too much and put their own needs (and things like vacations) first. I admit that I'm a bit torn, as I love having siblings. But I still think I only want to have one myself. Has anyone out there faced this? How have you handled the pressure to have another child?
May 11, 2012, edited May 11, 2012
As an only child, I'd feel free to tell those nosy neighbors to go fuck themselves. Unless of course they're willing to play night-nurse for the mandated second. (Presumably they also frown on MORE than two. It's all about confirming your own choices by bullying others into the same ones.)
According to Wikipedia's entry on "Only Child" the aggregated scientific research says that only children are no different from children with sibs. May have a bit more achievement motivation, a bit better vocab, due to more time and attention from parents.
As a mom of two, I think siblings have some benefits and some costs, both to each other and for parents. For parents, it seems sometimes our children will play well together for longer and longer stretches and require less from us. Some things come easier too, like when our first toilet trained our second. On the other hand, there are also conflicts at times, and it takes us more effort to get out of the house, stay up with school obligations etc.
From afar, it seems families with one child manage to function with one foot in their prior lives a bit more easily than families with more.
Parents just get no end of grief, I think. Having kids is selfish, not having kids is selfish, and on and on. It's hard to put hands over our ears and try and listen to ourselves. But it's NOT selfish to act in our own best interest. Happy, true-to-themselves parents is a wonderful gift to give a child.
Wishing you some rest and career satisfaction.
In my case the pressure to have a 2nd came from my husband. Interestingly his main argument, and he got other only-children to back him up, was that only children feel unfair pressure to be their parents' only source of support as they get older. Anyway, now we have 2 (and I'm glad we do), I sometimes get pressured to have a third from my side of the family. So it never ends.
I have found that if you sound uncertain or rationalize, people are more apt to give their opinions. If I give short, definitive answers (even if I'm not sure - it's none of their business anyway), then it's clear the matter is not up for discussion. Basically, I don't offer any reasons for our decision so they won't have any to argue with. "We're happy with one."
if you want a firm answer that ends the conversation, you can always say: "we are so happy that we have even one." :)
Those of us who grew up with siblings and have very close adult sibling relationships tend to believe siblings are an essential part of life because we love our siblings and we can't imagine life without our siblings. Some of us parents (me!) are also so very thankful when one sibling entertains another, therefore taking some of the pressure off our weary souls. But of course siblings are not truly essential and we have no business being rude and presumptuous judges of others' childbearing decisions. Anyway, I'm thankful some only want one child; it assuages my guilt for wanting and bearing more than my fair share. ;)
[from Emily via Facebook]
May 11, 2012