How to fight the pressure to have more kids

You should tune out the unsolicited advice couched in concern

In Summary

• It's not unusual to have someone tell you to get a playmate for the firstborn

Illustration of a mother bottlefeeding her baby
Illustration of a mother bottlefeeding her baby

There are questions about life that have become integrated in our cultures as part of ‘the norm’, yet they are utterly disrespectful and inconsiderate. These questions are invasive, unkind and downright disrespectful at times. Alas, society has normalised them as ways of endearment and concern.

When are you getting married? When are you starting a family? When are you having more kids?

These are just some of the most asked yet highly infuriating questions. At some point, they stop being questions and start being demands. The question about having children turns into a demand on having more children! As soon as your baby starts crawling, the noisemakers take their turn to comment how nice it would be for the baby to have a playmate.

This same scenario came to life before my eyes just this past week. I was sitting on the grass in the garden on video call with a close relative when I showed them my son zooming in all directions around the garden. “Oh, poor kid, he looks so bored playing by himself. He needs a playmate. If you have a second kid, he would have someone to play with.” No, if I had a second kid, I would not have the time to sit on the grass and play with my first kid!

Sometimes people mean well when they vocalise their opinions unnecessarily. However, just because they went through something does not mean everyone else must go through the same. Older generations had children back to back. That was normal in their times just as it was normal for the child to be raised by the proverbial village. However, in my time, what is normal to me are my day to day experiences that do not reflect those of opinion holders just because they have been there and done that.

I do not have a village, I do not even have a person to watch my kid for two minutes during the day for a quick bathroom break. Moreover, I took a break from my career and life in general to be my child’s caregiver and first teacher because I want to give him the kind of foundation I deem necessary before he starts his school years.

For the first few years of their lives, our kids deserve all our attention. To those who can manage to share their attention fairly between more than one child, I say rock on! To those of us who choose to have one kid because we cannot afford to focus on multiple little humans who demand our undivided attention, I say, remember when the world is asleep and the noisemakers are snoring peacefully in their beds, having convinced you to have more than one kid, you and you alone will be up at odd hours of the night, taking care of your babies without any help.

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