Family size is a very hot-button issue. Back when the Bean was a newborn, strangers would ask me if I was planning on having another. And, naive as I was, I would tell the truth: probably not.
Then the lectures began.
“Don’t have a lonely child!” “Who will she play with?” “She’ll have to take care of you–all by herself–when you get old!” “Don’t you know that only children are spoiled?”
In our society, it’s acceptable to have 2-3 kids. That’s it. If you’re a mother of many (remember this fun, large family?), a mother of one, or a mother on none, strangers feel free to set tact aside and give their candid disapproval. Onlies, especially, have fallen victim to some unfortunate stereotypes. Which is unfortunate, because family size is not something you should choose, based on pressure from the outside, or fears that you are ruining your child by not having the right amount of siblings for them.
We have one child, because we enjoy having one child. We loved having a baby, in spite of her health problems. Raising her is a joy. Her language delay has presented us with a unique set of challenges, but that’s not why we’re not planning on having another. We just don’t feel like we need another. Before I became pregnant with Beanie, I would cry, because I wanted a child so badly. That hasn’t happened.
I’m not saying that one child is perfect for every family; I’m saying one child is perfect for our family. Just like having a stay-at-home-dad and working (out of the home) mother is not for everyone, although it works very well for us. We don’t need permission to be minimalists, to live on board, or to run our family with the dynamics it has. And you know what? Nobody else needs permission either. If you have 5 kids–or even the usual 2-3–you don’t need everyone else to do the same, in order to validate your choices. Your choices are validated if they work for your family!
So, that being said, I’d like to celebrate our happy little family. Here are some surprising ways that family life is different when there are only three of you:
–Learning to share is less of a problem. While we hear “Mine!” occasionally, she has fewer fights over toys with her friends, since she does not worry about siblings taking her toys.
–Beanie’s role in our family is rather different than it would be if we had more children. She is a member of the group, and the “group” consists of two other adults. Her relationship to us is more equal–she does not fear our anger, but she aspires to be like us. While we struggle with getting her to follow directions (and yes, she is punished if she does not do so), we are her ultimate role models. When I clean, she grabs a wash cloth or her toy broom and joins in. When we read, she grabs a book and reads as well. If we want her to do something, we had better be doing it ourselves.
–Beanie is very good at entertaining herself, and does not mind solitude.
–We are able to spend a great deal of time playing with Jelly Bean and helping her to pursue her interests.
So, whatever size family you want, be sure to celebrate all that makes it unique!