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'Why one child is enough for me - and might be for you, too'

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by Dick Whitman, Jun 12, 2013.

  1. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    Ostensibly, this piece is about overcoming the stigma of having an only child - particularly for women. (As an aside, it's shocking to see a Slate piece from a feminist perspective.)


    However, I think there's also a lot in here about parenting, particularly parenting multiple children in general, that we all can relate to. For some reason, I'm just always comforted when I read something that indicates that we aren't the only ones who feel like we're working a second job and struggling to keep up with the basics.

    But the issue today isn’t as simple as washing sippy cups and dirty socks, or even the sheer number of hours we spend away from our friends and our thoughts. As the demands of the workplace have expanded to swallow up our lives, clashing with our consuming love affair with our children, parenting has simultaneously morphed into something grotesquely extended beyond traditional ideas of care. It’s hard to imagine how anyone can find time to make a living. Or read a newspaper. Or have a conversation with one’s partner about anything but what errands need to be done, who is covering pickup or making dinner.

    We may not have the time or energy to organize and participate in movements for social change, or even read the newspaper, but we can bake organic cupcakes and supervise algebra homework and spend our lives driving from soccer to ballet and watch Nick Jr. in our media rooms. All that overparenting seems selfless for a reason: Parents are literally losing themselves. Our communities and democracy are losing them too. Imagine if all that devotion wasn’t just directed inward to the family, but outward into the world? It’s hard to, isn’t it? The world can sound and look remarkably hazy from inside a domestic cocoon.
  2. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    Different things work for different people... I've always thought two is the perfect number for kids. Have two of them and have them relatively close together (within three years).

    My issue with the notion of "all of the joy, less of the crap" is that that's making it all about the parents. Do what's best and easiest for them, and maybe not what's best for the kid. Is it all about you or is it all about your kids...

    Most people I know who only have one kid there's a reason why. Either the marriage is bad or they're hurting financially or they had trouble getting pregnant or the first kid was unplanned...

    What I'm fascinated by are the people who have two kids close in age to each other and then decide 7-8 years down the road to have another. I get having three kids. I don't get having three so far apart (when planned). I see it as a bit of a youth grab.

    I'm dealing with this with my sister. She has a 10-year-old an 8-year-old and is pregnant with her third. Kid was planned, but she's dealing with serious health issues as a result. One of my friends just had an identical situation where the third kid just completely threw off what had been a pretty good family dynamic.
  3. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    My wife has three older brothers - she's the youngest by about 10 years. She was a "surprise," so it doesn't exactly fit into what mystifies you - the people who actually make the decision to have a baby years down the road. But it definitely fits into the family dynamic pattern - she doesn't remember her parents being married, because they divorced when she was 2 or 3. She believes - and there's no self-loathing or guilt involved here - that her arrival is what probably stressed the marriage to the point that it broke.

    My wife has a theory about people who have babies years after their first cluster of children: As time passes, they forget how hard it is.

    We're done at two, like you are. And it's shocking how many people don't believe us. Everyone feels like they have to tell us about some person they knew that said they were done, then had another one. Same thing happened when my wife said she was going back to work while she was pregnant with our first child. People essentially rolled their eyes about it: "This naive first-time mom. She'll see."

    I don't get mad or anything. It's small talk. It just kind of fascinates me.
  4. doctorquant

    doctorquant Well-Known Member

    We have three -- 19, 16 (just turned) and 11 (12 in a couple of months) ... probably would have had a 4th had we married earlier (I was 29, she was 32). It's interesting observing the evolving dynamics, especially now that the older two are so much more independent. There's already a sense that they are "apart" -- they have their inside jokes, things they know about one another that we don't, etc. It won't be long before they're coming home from college/early careers and hanging out around the garage beer fridge with their pals.
  5. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    My best friend is going through a divorce that is likely caused mostly by the third child. The mom, who was the one pushing for the kid, just wasn't the same after the kid was born. The kid is now 3 and like your wife, will wonder if he was the reason they split.
  6. Bodie_Broadus

    Bodie_Broadus Active Member

    I have a friend who is 27 and has a 15-year-old brother. When he was talking about picking his brother up from school I always thought he meant college.
  7. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    Our daughter was born when our sons were 8 and 6. We didn't think we wanted a third kid. Changed our minds. Pretty simple, not really a youth grab or anything.

    We now have four kids. And it is not easy, but it has been way easier than having them all at the same time. The fact that the two older ones have been able to basically take care of themselves with some unsupervised play inside the house has saved our sanity more than once.

    As to the having only one kid, that's cool, I've seen it work and I've seen it not. The one thing is I think the "spoiled only child" syndrome is fairly real. Parents get very wrapped up in that one kid's life. Also she is discounting one of the main reasons for having kids historically -- so there is someone to care for the parents in their old age. Putting that all on one person is a big burden.
  8. Bob Cook

    Bob Cook Active Member

    We had four kids in order to increase the chances we'd have at least one who felt guilty enough take care of us in our dotage.
  9. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    Then you just have to hope the other three don't live with you until they're 30. :D
  10. Bob Cook

    Bob Cook Active Member

    They're sharing bedrooms, so they have an incentive to move out.
  11. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    The only people I know who only have one kid were people who got divorced before they could have another or there is some story (almost always not good) about why they only have one.

    I know more people who have 5+ children then I know people who are still together and only have one (and aren't planning on having more...).
  12. Dyno

    Dyno Well-Known Member

    I'm an only (and I like it), so I'm biased. Growing up (and still to this day), I was told "you don't seem like an only child," presumably because I am know how to share and am not selfish or whatever the other only child stereotypes are. Was I spoiled? Maybe. But other kids are, too. I have a friend (she has one sister and is the mom of three), who is so anti-only child that she has said, on multiple occasions to me and in front of me, that only children are "demons" and that couples who only have one kid aren't real families. When I remind her that I am an only, she's quick to say, "oh, I don't mean you." That's an extreme case, but is an example of the "stigma" of being or having an only child.
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