Thursday, April 19, 2012

Most Selfish Woman Ever?

Today I happened upon the following article; by the time I finished reading it my mouth was gaping.  Could this possibly be the most selfish woman ever? 

I have shared the article here, rather than posting the link for several reasons.  I have highlighted some parts which I would like to give my "two-cents" on. 

When I first held my newborn daughter, Mia, 18 months ago, I felt an overwhelming sense of completeness. She was everything I’d ever wanted. It took just three days, ­however, for that question to crop up: when was I going to have another? It came from my father-in-law as he visited his new granddaughter. It was just a throwaway comment. ‘It won’t be too long before you’re thinking about the next one,’ he said. But it filled me with rage.

Exhausted and hormonal, I admit my temper got the better of me. Mia, I snapped, would be our only child, that had always been our intention.  My father-in-law was a little taken aback, but pressed on regardless. ‘You say that now, but you’ll change your mind - all women do,’ he said. ‘After all, it would be cruel to raise her as an only child.’  Fearing an almighty row was about to erupt, my husband, Colin, quickly ushered him from the room.

But I was devastated. Was it really cruel to want only one baby? After all, I’d told my whole family many times I planned to have a ­single child.

The idea of a huge close-knit ­family, living constantly in each other’s pockets, never held any attraction for me.  It sounded far too chaotic and claustrophobic.  My rule of thumb has always been that there should never be more children than bathrooms in a home.

I have just one older sister, Jo, and although we’re on good terms, we weren’t close in our teens and she’s lived abroad since her early 20s.  So I find it easy to relate to being an only child and I’ve never seen it as a bad thing.

You see, I was never entirely sure I wanted to have any children at all.  When I met Colin, now 39, I was relieved that, even though he is close to his two sisters, kids weren’t a ­crucial part of his life-plan either. We agreed to see what happened on the child front before gradually warming to the idea of having one. Just one.

Mia came along, the father-in-law had his say, and for a few blissful months all was quiet.  But the respite didn’t last. When Mia was just five months old, I was accosted by a complete stranger at a local cafe as I manoeuvred my pram.  ‘Time for another one?’ asked this middle-aged man. At first I thought he was talking about my latte. Then I realised what he meant and was totally speechless.

Why do people feel it is OK to get so deeply personal with women in this way?  It turned out the campaign had just begun.  For years I’d put up with people ignoring my successful career as a journalist, preferring instead to question when I was going to start a family.  I waited until I was 34 - hardly ancient - and two years into my marriage, before Mia was born.  I had stupidly assumed that by reproducing, all such comments would come to a halt. Instead, the emotional blackmail has actually got much worse.  Before you have ­children, people hold back a little. After all, you may have undisclosed fertility problems and be secretly desperate for a baby.   But once you’ve had one child, it’s open season. People just ask ­outright as if they’re talking about the local bus service: ‘So, when’s number two going to arrive?’

Only recently, a neighbour, a mum-of-four, stopped me in the street and said: ‘You must be thinking about having a brother or sister for Mia now?’ It felt like she was accusing me of forgetting to buy my daughter a Christmas present.

It incenses me that parents of only children are routinely dubbed ­‘selfish’ and told they’re condemning their over-indulged kids to a lifetime of loneliness. My view is that, unlike parents of large families, we will be able to devote all our time, money and love into turning Mia into a happy, ­confident little girl. And a raft of recent research backs us up.

Dr Sultana Choudhry, director of Child, Adolescent and Family Mental Health at London Metropolitan ­University, states: ‘Only children ­perform better at school, have stronger self-esteem and experience fewer mental health problems. ‘It’s also a myth that they’re spoilt; only children score highly when it comes to self-resilience and dealing with emotional problems - not something you’d associate with being over-indulged. ‘There’s a lot to be said for being the sole focus of your mum and dad’s attention. You receive all the ­emotional and financial resources on offer. In fact, many emotional ­problems in adulthood can be traced back to parental favouritism and sibling rivalry.’

So what about only children feeling lonely? ‘It is a common concern,’ says Dr Choudhry, ‘but most children are surrounded by other children from such a young age these days. ‘Even two year olds have regular “play dates”. It’s almost impossible to be starved of same-age companions.’ However, mothers of only children are continually made to feel selfish and, in some way, unnatural for not wanting more babies.

Now that my daughter is 18 months - the peak age at which most women get that desperate urge to start trying for a second baby the pressure is really on. Most of the mothers in the birth group I joined when pregnant with Mia are either expecting again or trying hard to conceive. My sister-in-law, who gave birth three days before me, is due again this summer. Even my best friend, Rachel, 36, who couldn’t wait to get back to work after her first child and swore blind she would never have another one, is pregnant.

But the final straw came last week when one multiple mum and (now former) friend, told me straight how selfish and lazy she thought I was. ‘If you weren’t planning on giving her a brother or sister, maybe you shouldn’t have had Mia in the first place,’ she said. I was mortified and told her so. Even the people who try to be kind often end up insulting what is a very personal choice.

When I visited my GP to get a repeat prescription for my ­contraceptive Pill, she commented quite innocently: ‘If the birth was really that bad, perhaps counselling would help?’ So I told her wearily, once again, that although my labour was ­certainly no easy ride, I’d happily go through it all again if I wanted another child. But I don’t. And I wish everyone would just shut up about it. She filled out my prescription without another word.

At least I take some comfort from the fact I am not alone. If the ­single-child family has replaced the single-parent one as the new social stigma, it’s because we’re a growing trend. Recent figures reveal that UK households with a lone child now outnumber those with two by more than half a million, making up 46 per cent of all families.

Obviously one key factor is that we’re all feeling the economic pinch, with ­parents simply unable to afford the extra cost of another child (a staggering £1,800 before they’re even born, according to one survey last month).

One close friend of mine, Sarah, who has a three-year-old son, Jack, has decided against a second child because she’s worried about the ­rising cost of a good education. Concerned about the poor choice of state schools in her North London catchment area, Sarah says it’s looking likely that they’ll end up educating their son privately. At around £10,000 a year for one child, putting two through school is not an option.

Another huge factor in the rise of single-child families is the trend for women to have babies later in life. UK birth records show that a woman having her first child at 35 is much less likely than a 25 year old to have more children. As fertility declines post-35, many women just run out of time. And older mums can find ­­motherhood takes such a toll on their energy levels that many decide they can’t face another round of sleepless nights. I’m now 35 and Mia sleeps through the night, but I still end most days collapsed and exhausted on the sofa.

Who knows, perhaps I might have had more children if I’d started a decade earlier. But could I really go through all those broken nights again at 37, 38 or later? I don’t even want to think about it. I’m also convinced that stopping at one child will be good for my ­marriage. When kids come along, it’s a bit like throwing a hand ­grenade into your romantic life. It’s all too easy for your relationship to fall by the wayside. So it’s no surprise that the stress of having a second child can be the tipping point that breaks up a significant number of marriages.

With one child, it’s relatively easy for Colin and I to escape for a night out with the help of family and babysitters. Also, I am not afraid to admit that I like my lifestyle and worry that adding another child would mean trading in our three-bedroom North ­London home for something larger in the suburbs — or leaving London altogether.
Other friends who’ve stopped at one child, like me, are certain they’ve made the right choice. Steve and Leah have one delightful child - their six-year-old son, Jude. With Jude now in school, they are both able to pursue their careers as photographers. Leah always looks immaculate and throws fabulous dinner parties — she even bakes her own bread. ­Parenthood hasn’t dulled their appetite for ­travelling. Last year they took Jude backpacking to Vietnam.

For my friends Lucy and Dan, ­however, things couldn’t be more different. Their brood of three means they have an ugly people-carrier that Lucy admits she hates driving and can’t park. Exotic holidays have long since been replaced with all-inclusive packages to Spain or a cramped caravan in Cornwall. Lucy cuts her own hair and ­survives on leftover fish fingers as she’s too tired to cook for herself. Both Lucy and Leah say they are happy - but I know which one I’d rather be.

At the end of the day, it’s not about romance, money, the agony of childbirth or all the research that proves how damaging sibling rivalry can be. The honest truth is that Mia is all I want. She’s perfect and I’m done. So no matter how many times I’m asked when I’ll be having my next one, I won’t be changing my mind.

At this stage it might be best to point out, that the issue here is not big family V's only child. There are many loving, godly families who "only" have one child, because that is God's will for that particular family.  I reject all the "proof" of one family size being "better" than others, or else God would make every family size identical! 

From the very start of this depressing article, we read as the writer laments people "judging" her decision of this self imposed one-child-policy. This is pure hypocrisy; as she then goes on to judge other peoples choices and lifestyles, y'know the ones with "broods" of children! Anyway, don't we all know that "judging" is bad! *eye-roll*

As for it being "expensive" to raise more than one child, I beg to differ.  My husband and I have often commented that Meg (our third child) has been our easiest child to provide for!  Good quality hand-me-down clothes, books and toys are in abundance in our home (especially considering that we see no shame in buying used goods from others).  This is just good sense, even for those families with one child.  And who needs private education in London when you can have one-on-one education from a loving parent? 

Sadly the "method" this woman is choosing to maintain her lifestyle, involves her taking an abortifacient contraceptive pill. This means that she may well be aborting newly conceived lives, in her attempt to limit her family size; not to mention any number of cancers she may be lining herself up for in the future. I imagine that this lady is ignorant of the fact, that these early abortions may be taking place within her own body, via something that she is "choosing" to do; but ignorance certainly won't be a excuse on the day she is standing before God.

In my opinion this woman and any who hold to "values" like her are the epitome of selfishness.  I almost lost count of how many times she informed us of the numerous things she wanted, she valued, or she didn't want in her article.  Hair cuts, exotic holidays, fancy cars, apartments in London...are these things really of such a high value, that she is willing to put them over precious human lives?  Shame on anyone who glorifies being so shallow.


Kimmie said...

Great post. I would love more kids over any of that material stuff any day.

Elizabeth said...

So flawed on so many different levels. And, sadly, the attitudes expressed here are certainly the norm. I think that people try to soothe their consciences about having only one child by saying "(S)he's not spoiled," or "It's what's best for her/him, etc.

I don't know many adult only-children. The two that I do know of however, I know very well: one is my husband and the other is my mom. I love my husband dearly, but honestly (and he will be the first to admit), when we got married he displayed every only-child stereotype. That said, he is the completely opposite today.

I'm gonna stop with this comment, but I could go on forever. To the "I can't afford to have more" mentality I say, "If my kids all wore name-brand, department store bought clothing, all were in little league, ballet, baton, beauty pageants or some other club, and we took regular trips to Disney World, had all the coolest video games, each had their own cell phone, then yeah, I couldn't afford more than one kid. And those kids who have all that stuff?? They are SPOILED! :)

ok, I don't really say all that stuff, but I do think it.

Elizabeth said...

How long do you think until this shows up on Free Jinger? I think it's worthy. :-p

sarah in the woods said...

Of course she's selfish. but why is this worth pointing out? We are all selfish sinners until Jesus changes us. We shouldn't expect non-Christians to act like Christians or think like Christians. There, but for the grace of God, go I.

Anonymous said...

I think this woman is totally selfish and as such, perhaps it is best that she doesn't have any more children. I don't think she would be a very loving mother anyway! Blessings!

Sarah said...

Considering this part of the article:

"I’m also convinced that stopping at one child will be good for my ­marriage. When kids come along, it’s a bit like throwing a hand ­grenade into your romantic life. It’s all too easy for your relationship to fall by the wayside"

It may be worth noting, that for those people who do have larger families; those kiddies didn't get there by sharing toothbrushes! Needless to say that the "romance" is most definitely not lacking at all! ;)

Rachel said...

I expect even if she is aware of the spontaneous abortions caused by the pill, she probably wouldn't care - based on the rest of the article, she's probably pro-abortion!

Was this article from the Daily Mail by any chance? It has that judgemental ring about it! I agree that she sounds selfish - but I don't think those who chose to stop at one are necessarily selfish, there could be all sorts of health reasons/personal reasons for stopping at one. The one thing I did agree with her on though - I don't think people should be constantly asking about why one hasn't had a child/second/third child yet. I do think in general that it's a rude question, and it can be very hurtful if you desperately want a child and can't have one. But...she does come across as a bit of an odious woman! I feel sorry for her "friend" who has three children, to be written about like that by a supposed friend. I can't imagine why anyone would car so much about driving an "ugly" car - it's just a practical thing, compared with the little person you might be driving round in it!

Sarah said...

Kimmie ~ Me too! :)

Elizabeth ~ Ha! I know what you mean, I could go on all day about this too! We have family friends who say "We can't afford any more"; they are very wealthy, but will not sacrifice their "lifestyle". Knowing the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

Sarah ~ I posted and commented on this article, because I feel it is a growing "trend" in modern attitudes and I wanted to address it. Neither is it an attitude possessed by the unsaved only; we all know of "selfish" Christians who limit their seed, and use abortifacient contraceptives.

Glenys ~ Yes, I agree that she must be "unloving" if she is so unwilling to give up certain "luxury" items so her daughter can enjoy siblings.

Rachel ~ Yes, it was the Daily Mail! One of the reasons I didn't link to the article, was the trashy "celebrity stories" littering the page. I hadn't realised that the DM was "that" sort of newspaper.

I agree with you Rachel, that confronting anyone about their family size is downright rude! I imagine it is awful, whether you have one, none or ten children!

Thank you all for your comments.

PetraStrider said...

Maybe I'm a minority here but I don't think she's THAT selfish. Without commenting on her BC method (I don't think it's moral to use chemical BC except for medical reasons); she should be free to limit her family size. She always knew she wanted one child and married a man who shared her values.
My husband and I want a large family, but I discussed with my husband if we have a child with special needs that requires a large amount of extra care than we'd probably stop at what we can handle.
Big families are wonderful! But not everyone likes children. Some people are okay with one child, but not a whole group of them. As much as I wish I grew up in a Duggar-type home, I would NOT want parents who had me because they were supposed to and resented my existence. (TBH I am the 'just-one-more' child and I was told verbally and non-verbally that they shouldn't have had me.)

Sarah said...

PetraStrider ~ I'm sorry that you were made to feel like that as a child; how awful that must have felt for you.

I can certainly see your point. But it is my opinion that if we were to choose to limit our family size due to havign a child with disablities, then this would indicate that we need to re-examine our relationship with God. Do we trust Him with our family size (despite difficulties) or do we not?

I don't really think it is down to "liking" or "not liking" children for most people...there is almost always a selfish reason of many behind the "I only want 1,2-3" statement.

ChaosMandy said...

I must be very selfish then. I only have one child, and I will not have any more.

My husband and I decided that we were going only have one when we started TTC. We were and are happy with this decision.

Then I had some serious medical issues that would make it very dangerous for me to go through another pregnancy. So we are a very happy (and Christian!) family of three.

Very judgmental you are - who cares what people decide is best for their family!

Sarah said...

ChaosMandy ~ I'm not sure why you feel the need to explain your decision here on my blog, seeing as you already know my opinion?

As Christians,we should know that God is wiser than us, to decide when and how many children we should have. I look to the Lord in faith to direct my paths, not my own "understanding".