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The Only Child Myth

by Naima Sanowar

in Lifestyle

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A very popular saying in Trinidad ( my home-land) and something my loving  granny told me recently ” Naima, one child, is NO child.”  Having just recently turned forty and fabulous (lol) , I am reminded by my OBGYN that I am now in the height of ” advance maternal fetal age”. This coupled with my loving  four year old, threatening to go to a ” baby store” and buy himself a baby brother, The Epicurean Man giving me the silent pressure, and  a recent observation that in my wonderful social mummy group, I am the the only one with ONE child. I was stopped in my tracks by the recent cover of  TIME magazine – The Only Child Myth.

The writer  for the Time, Lauren Sandler, discusses in her article ” The economy is sluggish. Expenses are up. And raising kids costs a bundle. What a better time to abandon the stereotypes and embrace the possibilities of the only child?”  Herself an only child – her mom and dad wanted the experience of parenting but also their careers, the freedom to travel and the lower cost and urbane excitement of making a home in an apartment rather than a suburban house. Back then their choice was rare.  “Today recession has dramatically re-shaped women’s childbearing desires,” says Larry Finer, the director of domestic policy at the Guttmacher Institute, a leading reproductive-health research organization. The institute found that that 64% of women polled said that with the economy the way it is, they couldn’t afford to have a baby now. Forty-four percent said they plan to reduce or delay their child-bearing- again, because of the economy.”

Though the economics play a bit of a reason for my delay in having a second child, seriously private school education(only option for us) for kinder-garden averages $28,000 to $30,000 a year. I can’t imagine spending double that at this moment. High Costs, a demanding lifestyle and a high risk disposition. Karate Boy was a micro premmie ( 25 weeker) due to my incompetent cervix. These factors however does not stop my own OBGYN, as well as family and friends from  asking me ” when are you going to have another child, Naima what are you waiting for?”.

Lauren Sandler continues to write in her article for the Time.  ” The entrenched aversion to stopping at one mainly amounts to a century-old public relations issue. Single children are percieved as spoiled, selfish, solitary misfits. Since the 1970s, however, studies devoted to understanding the personality characteristics of only children have debunked that idea. I, for one, was happy without siblings, people seem to think I turned out fine”

The  Time article goes on to quote Toni Falbo, a professor of educational psychology and sociology at the University of Texas at Austin ( An only child herself and a mother of one). No one has done more to disprove the stereotype of  being an only child = misfits and oddballs. Fablo tells her students, that only children tend to do better in school and get more education-college, medical or law degrees-than other kids. Not that siblings will necessarily thwart you: Einstein had a sister and did just fine. But for every Venus and Serena Williams, you can find a luminary singleton: Gary Grant,Elvis Presely,Lance Amstron, or Frank Sinatra.”

Being the  oldest with three siblings, I do not quite understand how my son The Karate Boy fares at being an only child. I will say he is extremely sociable and on a daily basis demands a playdate. He does not seem to like being all by himself, not that The Epicurean Man and I are chicken liver. His best friend , his cousin Daniel, 8 years old, is also an only child, they have the most spectacular adventures together.

I asked a  good friend of mine Ky, what were the pro’s and con’s of being an only child? he replied ” You get spoiled, you get all the attention, and if you have great parents or parent, you get what you want. The con’s are you always have to be creative to entertain and make fun for yourself. No one else to blame when you mess up, it’s all on you. But this makes you become very independent for yourself, which I think is a great characterstic.”

Lastly in the Time article ” A 2007 survey found that a rate of 3 to 1, people believe the main purpose of marriage is the  mutual happiness and fulfillment of adults rather than the bearing and raising of children. There must be some balance between the joy our kids give us and the sacrafices we make to care for them. Social scientists have surmised since the 1970s that singletons offer the rich experience of parenting without the consuming efforts that multiple children add: all the wonder and giggles and shampoo mohawks but with leftover energy for sex, conversation, reading and so on.”

My cousin Latoya who resides in Belgium with her hubby Ward and beautiful fourteen year old daughter Demi, spoke to me about the decision her hubby and her made not to have another child. Latoya and Ward felt  Time was the main factor. ” Time for her, time for us. Opportunity to do special things for her that  would not be possible if there was another child in the mix. We do alot for her. We love making Demi’s life completely enriched, if we had another child we would have no life as parents, as individuals.”

I totally get what the article in Time magazine, as well as the reason behind my cousin’s decision, for the argument of having only one child. My personal choice for having one child, has been based on so many factors, it is hard for me to support one difinitve agrument on why to raise a singleton. I decided late to start a family at 35 years old, then came my high risk pregnancy, factored with my very busy lifestyle. Recently I have  been given a remarkable  opportunity to have a new age surgery that will almost guarantee a safer pregnancy with a positive and healthy birth. Being parents to our one ” singleton” , as well as our busy lifestyle can be overwhelming for my husband and I , we like having ” leftover energy for sex, converstions, reading and son on.”  Though Karate Boy is sociable and loves being in the company of other kids, he also enjoys all the attention he gets and the many, many amazing adventures we take him on as a family of three.  Despite all of this, I find myself longing to have another child.

 A dear friend of mine told me ” Naima you know this is going to ruin my rock star image I have of you, The Epicurean Man and Karate Boy”. My heart is humming a song for more. I may not be the best mother, but I love being a mum. Karate Boy seems to be suited to be a big brother to some-one. I am also content with the notion that if it is not in our future a second child, our family unit as we are today will continue to strive in the most loving, enriching way. Singleton or not, Karate Boy will grow into a wonderful, smart, loving young man. Either way everything will  fall into place some-how.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Anna July 14, 2010 at 3:59 PM

Such an interesting topic. One night Edward and I were at a friend’s house playing with her two boys. It was a lot of fun, but when it was time to leave I couldn’t pry him out of there. Finally, when we got home, he told me that their house was more fun because it was more festive. There were more people, in other words, more children. I felt a pang of envy and guilt. Let’s see how I feel when we bring another child into our home.

Anna

Denise July 14, 2010 at 10:03 PM

Excellent MuM u are!

X

Naima Sanowar July 14, 2010 at 10:49 PM

Anna, at least you are half way there, how is pregnancy going? kicking yet? So happy for you. We must plan a playdate with the boys soon. Jaden has even invented a new baby, it gets wierder lol.

Naima Sanowar July 14, 2010 at 10:50 PM

Thanks Denise

Yas July 15, 2010 at 7:07 AM

“1 child is no child”, what a harsh statement! But being from a family of 4, I kinda get where that’s coming from. So funny the pressure from our little ones to have siblings! Mine is relentless in her beg for a baby sis’! Good luck to your family in this new adventure!

Yas July 15, 2010 at 7:09 AM

grew up in a fam of 4KIDS! to be precise… :) )

LaToyia July 15, 2010 at 2:50 PM

So funny, I just picked up a Time magazine before coming into work today! The cover story immediately made me think of my daughter, the “singelton, Lauren. For the summer, she is with her Nana, but most importantly, her aunt and uncle, who are only 12 and 9yr old kids themselves..the highlight of her summer stay. She loves it there! When she comes home…she always says “mom can you go and get someone for me to play with please?” Breaks my heart. With a deployed Air Force dad..it’s just me and her and I just can’t see how it would all fit right now with a #2 as busy as I am with #1..

Naima Sanowar July 15, 2010 at 6:48 PM

Yes Latoyia you can understand where my mind is with having a second. The good news is ” singelton’s” turn out to be perfectly, sane, smart, wonderful adults.

Thanks for commenting and sharing your story

X

Gayle July 27, 2010 at 5:18 PM

I must say that there are days that I wish that I had stayed at just one child, I know that there will be more time for me LOL however having a second child was the best thing I could do for my eldest child and I have no regrets.
Seeing them playing together and my daughter drawing out my son I knew it was the right one. Having four children well I think you have to really want that.

Having children is a HUGE decision and I am grown up enough to know that you need to know how much you can manage and what you expect out of life.
This was a wonderfully written post :)
Hope you get your dream of baby number two because I think you will be FABULOUS with two but if not as I said before you are such a hands on Mum and you share so many experiences with him that Jaden is going to grow up to be great individual … I just know it
(wow this is long)

Naima Sanowar July 28, 2010 at 3:08 PM

You are too sweet Gayle.. Lets hope for the best situation for me.

X

Dee Winfield July 29, 2010 at 9:36 AM

What a thoughtful article. However, the idea of “one child, no child” is unfortunate. I’m the mom of a singleton who is now grown, and we had the riches, best and most adventurous life as a family. Enjoy the gift(s) that God has for you, whether it is one child or many children. It’s not the number of children that matters it’s the quality of life that you create for the child/children that you are blessed to nurture. And on that note you are doing a wonderful job as a mom. (Hmm…the photo background seems so familiar. :) )

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