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Should you have a second child?
Zelda Pande |
September 29, 2004
f I had my way, I would have had 10 children, if not a dozen.
Anyone who tells you: Life is more interesting without children.He/she only wants a dog.He/she needs time for himself/herself and does not have time for babies.All of the above.
-- doesn't really know what he/she is talking about.
Kids are such fun.
I would gladly trade 10 candlelit dinners or nights at a disco/pub/concert or a party for an evening with my daughters (btw, it is not that you cannot pub and raise kids).
More often than not, they are a laugh a minute. Besides, they have such interesting angles and thoughts on life.
Their companionship -- a little warm hand slipping into yours when you need it most and their unconditional love -- is an addiction.
Kids mean instant companionship.
Wherever you want to go -- be it a bookshop, a restaurant, a movie or on a trip -- they are game.
The added benefit -- one that is very hard to put into words -- is the extra dimension a marriage/relationship gets when children come along.
Children are often the future of a relationship.
The tales you exchange, the purpose of your daily life, the joy, the happiness, the irritations -- in fact the whole flow of a marriage/relationship -- is determined by your kids.
Children add maturity to your character.
Couples/adults whose only concern was having a good time suddenly know what it means to really love and care for someone, to be less selfish and irresponsible. Parents grow because of their kids.
I believe children also expand your outlook on life. I was the I-love-dogs type. Till I had kids, my heart went out to every miserable puppy or sorrowful kitten on the road -- I ended up adopting quite a few -- and I loved working with animals. But now that I have two daughters of my own, I cannot pass a dejected child without wishing I could take him or her home too, along with the homeless cats, dogs, crows and pigeons.
Concern for children brings a larger concern for the problems of the world, environment and peace and moves you far away from the realm of I, me and myself.
Nothing, I feel, changes your life more than bringing a few children into the world -- not puberty, not love, not marriage.
Your life will change beyond recognition once you are a parent. It will get so much busier, tiring, anxious and frazzled. But it will also get so much fuller.
The toughest and most challenging assignment of one's lifetime is to bring up a youngster to be an exceptional adult.
My first child slowly moved out of the waddly-goofy-diaper stage to the funny-comment-a-minute toddler stage to the precocious preschooler one to the dangerous nearly teenager stage she is at now.
I mourned the passing of each 'era' and wondered how I would not miss that particular avatar of my child.
Which brings one squarely up against the decision of having a second child.
Having your second child is a much, much larger decision than having your first. And nearly as large as the decision, of course, of having the third or the fourth.
I firmly believe if you have had the first, the second is a must. It's a bit like Tweedledee and Tweedledum. I know of so many couples who have one child and don't want a second.
The reasons cited can be anything from the mother's discomfort during the first pregnancy to financial incapacity to shortage of time to many, many others.
Listed here, are some of my most convincing reasons on why you should have more than one child:
Working couples benefit tremendously from having two kids. The second child, regardless of the age difference, gives the first some much-needed companionship. Even if they are five to six years apart, they play well together. And if the gap happens to be as large as five years or more, the elder quite naturally plays the surrogate mom or dad from time to time. My younger one jumps straight onto my elder daughter's lap when she walks in from school; which is something she does to me when I am around. They are content in each other's companionship and are not hunting that hard for a missing dad or mom (who might be stuck in a meeting or saddled with some extra work).
Single children can get rather lonely. Extra help, grandparents and even you cannot be the partner required for the crazy games -- shop-shop, kitchen toys, mummy-baby, queen and maid-in-waiting -- kids like to play. Setting up play dates, though a great option, does not make up for 24/7 companionship.
Television, computer, play stations, instead of books, often become companionship for your only child.
One child often complements another in personality. The first child, so many fellow parents tell me, is obedient, responsible, serious and quiet. The second one is often much more happy-go-lucky, bindaas and a bit of a rebel. Parents are usually quite a bit more lax in the way they discipline their second and these little scamps reap the benefits. They are noisier and livelier than the first and become the perfect foil -- temperament-wise -- to the elder.
When you 'grow up', no one can replace your sister or brother in your life. I live far away from both my siblings but when we do get together, the bonds that get renewed are special -- the shared memories, the similar viewpoints and understanding.
Do you have parenting experiences/tips you'd like to share with us?
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh
Zelda Pande's earlier column