How many children do you need to complete your family?

Who decides?

We all hate unsolicited advices, don’t we? Yet, many of us have suggested a mom with a single child to try for a second baby so that her family is complete. Hypocrisy?

Shortly after independence, the slogan ‘Hum do, Hamaare do’ was spread as a way to create awareness for family planning. A few decades ago, it was common to have 3 or more siblings. Gradually, the trend shifted towards having two kids in the family. But does this mean that you should have two children in order to complete your family? Who decides?

I agree that having siblings is a lot of fun. I grew up with my brother and we had the best time of our life as kids. But, I also know many people who didn’t have a sibling, and they had a pretty good childhood too. So, the number of siblings you have is not a determinant of how much fun you have in life. What is more important for parents is to ensure good education and quality of life they give to their child(ren). This brings me to the next point- finances.

With the cost of living getting so high, all parents try hard to give only the best to their child(ren). In such times, is it better to have a single child and give him/her the best quality of education and life, and to ensure a more comfortable set up? Of course, if finances are not a problem, couples decide to have as many kids as they want; but this doesn’t apply to most Indian couples. So, we need to let go of this age-old belief that we need two children in the family, and think from a more practical perspective.

The next point I wish to discuss is one that remains the most neglected- the mother. It is a proven fact that post-partum depression is real and more prevalent than we know. The mother’s body undergoes a lot of physical and hormonal changes through pregnancy and childbirth. Modern lifestyle has seen an increase in the severity of post-partum depression in women, especially those who had to take a career break. Should she go through all of it again just to fit in the society’s norms of completing her family?

Next, I would like to underscore the importance of family support in raising a child. If you live in a joint family, then obviously you have help and support for household chores and resuming work at office. But if you live in a nuclear set-up, many things need to be arranged if the mother wants to resume her career. If you think that you can manage with more than one kid, then you should definitely go ahead with your plan; but if you cannot, then there is no need to succumb to the society’s pressure of having two kids for completing your family.

Finally, I would ask all women to make themselves a priority and think hard on what they want. Instead of blindly following the ‘trend’ of having two children, they should assess their health, professional aspirations, family support and financial constraints before deciding how many children do they want, if at all.

In my opinion, a family is complete when the couple loves and respects each other’s choices and provides good education and lifestyle to their child(ren); and no couple should be told how many children they need in order to complete their family. What do you think?

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