The “Right” Number of Kids
I have one daughter. One. She was planned. She was planned as an ‘only child.’
This shouldn’t be an issue… but surprisingly, it often is.
About the only parents who don’t experience the strange social phenomena of the “right” number of children are those who are happily married, financially well-off, and have one boy and one girl spaced somewhere between 1 1/2 and 3 years apart in age.
This is, apparently, the American concept of the ‘ideal’ family.
I have many friends who are Childfree. If you’re not familiar with the term, let me give you the reader’s digest version – they aren’t ‘childless’ because that implies that something is missing that is wanted. They have actively chosen not to have children because they don’t wish to be parents. Some of them can’t stand children – some of them have no issues with children, but just don’t want to parent for one of many reasons.
The response they usually get to letting someone know that they are Childfree is along the lines of “oh you’ll change your mind later” or “you’ll wish you had changed your mind when you’re older” or “you’re just saying that because you haven’t had a child yet” to somewhat more attacking and rude comments.
I have a friend with 5 children ranging in age between 9 and 21. All were wanted and planned. She has faced the slings and barbs of many a grocery-store wit saying things like “they know what causes that now” and “haven’t you ever heard of birth control?”
One of my mommy friends has 4 girls. On both pregnancies 3 and 4, she was consistently asked things like “oh, going for the boy you didn’t get before?” as if somehow, the number of children they wanted was solely dependent on having at least one of each gender.
Recently, a couple who are friends of ours, whose daughter is Buttercup’s age and son is around 15 months, let us know that they were expecting again in July. Somehow, I already knew she was pregnant before she was showing… so I won a bet with GeekDaddy that she was – and our hearty congratulations were met with wistful sighs of relief. Apparently, we were the first people they had told outside of family – because their families’ responses were all horror and shock. The phrase “but you already have one of each” actually came out of one parent’s mouth. They were actually afraid to tell anyone else because they wanted positive reactions, not criticism.
Where did this belief come from that there is a “right” number and gender type with regard to American children in a single family?
I’m not sure of it – but it’s one of those ‘unwritten’ rules that seem to pervade our society. Even when those holding the belief come from families that don’t reflect that at all.
The thing is? The “right” number of kids is different for each family – from none, to one, to two, to a dozen – there’s no such thing as a “right” number, unless you mean, “right for us.”
Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox now… it’s just one of those pet peeves that comes up all the time. We’ll never be the “2 kids, one boy, one girl” family – but I can’t imagine our family any other way than it is.