Less Than or Equal to One Kid

While I was fixing the laptop of a particularly irritating libertarian corporate stooge years ago, the small talk turned to marriage and kids (for some forgotten reason.) I told him "yeah, we might have one at some point." Without hesitation, he forcefully opined "No. Children need siblings. Have at least two."

I've heard this opinion before and since, of course, most recently on a plane when a couple with a little daughter were told, again forcefully, that they had better have another when they told some guy nearby they were just having one. People who would not, presumably, tell you who to marry or what career to pursue or what color shoes to wear think they have the right, even the duty, to tell you that you are a bad, bad person for just having one child.

I was thus very excited to see the new Time Magazine cover story dispelling the one-child myth, i.e., the idea that only children are selfish, maladjusted, lonely, etc. As it turns out, that whole notion was cooked up by some late nineteenth-century "psychologist" (before they had anything like a scientific methodology) and instantly became received wisdom, passed down through the generations. It cross-pollinated with the fact that families used to need lots of kids for work in the fields and/or the fact that 50% of them died young, as well as the whole biblical injunction to be fruitful and multiply.

In short, a mish-mash of complete bullshit resulted in the utterly incorrect and baseless belief that only children are inherently disadvantaged. As numerous studies have since shown, only children are smarter, happier, and more "successful," as an aggregate, than kids from larger families.

This issue strikes pretty close to home for me. I have always, always known that if I was going to have a kid, it was going to be just that: one kid. Happily, B had reached the same conclusion without us ever having to talk about it. We want to keep our lives. We want to be able to go through life sharing things with Plan C, not being worried sick that we have nothing to share because we're stretched too thin (emotionally, mentally, temporally, financially) by multiple kids.

The most interesting part of the Time article to me was the fact that almost all parents who have more than one child do so because they think they're supposed to, not because they really "want" to in so many words. It's a classic case of basing important decisions on received wisdom rather than actual independent thought.

Finally, I'll add that the one thing the article doesn't address is the fact that most pregnancies are, of course, still unplanned. The whole issue is kind of moot for most people with multiple kids, because they didn't intend to do anything. Not to get any further up on my high horse here, but that shit still drives me crazy. Birth control. It's simple. It's straightforward. PEOPLE SHOULD USE IT.


Chica said...

University of Toledo - Lecturer in French and History

Location: Ohio, United States
Institution Type: College/University
Position Type: Lecturer/Visiting Assistant Professor
Submitted: Thursday, July 8th, 2010
Main Category: Canadian History
Secondary Categories: U.S. History
Francophone Studies

The Department of Foreign Languages and the Department of History at the University of Toledo invite applications for a full-time lecturer in French and History, beginning Fall 2010. General qualifications: MA in French or History required; Ph.D. in one or the other preferred. Administrative experience preferred. The successful candidate will teach US and Canadian history, as well as general survey courses. In French, the lecturer will teach language classes at various levels, French for reading knowledge, and courses on Francophone civilization and culture, with an emphasis on Canada. The lecturer’s teaching responsibility will be 4 courses per semester, evenly distributed between history and French, and administrative tasks as needed for coordinating academic programs.
The University of Toledo is an Equal Opportunity Affirmative Action Employer. Send letter of application, CV, and three letters of reference to Professor Linda Rouillard, Department of Foreign Languages, MS 127, 2801 Bancroft, The University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio 43606. Postmarked by July 21.

brianc said...

Well, that was randomly off-topic. C, I hope for your sake and mine, that you don't move to Ohio.

Regarding the birth control comment: Word (to your mother).

Beetlegirl said...

Well, it is really Pesto who is to blame for not wanting to move to Ohio. She is a tad bit biased as to which state beginning with the letter "O" she is willing to live in.

Dolce Vita said...

I have to ask: didn't people indicate to you that you needed to have kids when you were married and childless? I think this fits into the same kind of (thoughtless) pressure - the assumption that married people must have - and, of course, want to have - children. Insane.

On a side note, we decided to go for the second (just because we wanted to, not for gender equity or because of other pressures) and have raised a lot of eyebrows because there will be a distinct gap in ages between the two. This is another bit of bull hurled around: the age difference must be 3 years or less. Ugh.