What the Childfree and Single-Child Parents Share
A mother of an only child recently wrote me about the top five "bingos" she has received as a "Done at One," or DAO. They are more related to what's behind a lot of bingos the childfree get than you might think. Here they are:
Top 5 Bingos to the DAO
1. You only had ONE child? Why didn't you want more?
Doesn't this sound similar to what the childfree get? The "Why don't you want kids?" question? The message to the DAO: There must be something wrong with you such that you don't want more than one. The message to the childfree: There must be something wrong with you that you don't want any.
2. I guess you weren't strong enough to handle more than one child.
This one makes me think of the one the childfree get, or at least the stereotype people often hold: Our lack of desire to raise children somehow reflects a lack of psychological and emotional health. The message underneath the bingo seems the same for the DAO on this one.
3. Did you ever think your child might be lonely without a sibling?
4. You don't want your child ending up spoiled, do you? Your son needs a sibling!
5. Maybe if you were less selfish, you would do what's best for (child's name) and not what is easiest for you.
To me, the last three comments reek of the "selfish" bingo the childfree get. Like having no children, somehow choosing to have only one child is somehow a selfish act. Those doing the bingo-ing need to bone up on the research. Onlies don't need siblings to have excellent childhoods, and just because they are the only child does not mean they will automatically be spoiled. And maybe it is not about what is "easiest," (and actually so what if it is!) but about what the parents decide is best for them and their family.
So the childfree may have more in common with parents than we think--parents of one child, that is. These bingos seem to imply that what is "normal" is not having A child, but more than one. Would she get these bingos if she had two children? I think not.
Interesting how people don't ask, Why Did you have kids? Why did you have the second one? Why did you have the third?? Or Why do you keep having more kids? These are all taboo, even in a world in which it's questionable whether we will be able to sustain our growing population.
Do the "why did you have them" type questions need to become less taboo, or like the DAO bingos, should people just keep the these kinds of queries and the judgements behind them to themselves?
Childfree author of Families of Two
blogging at La Vie Childfree http://lauracarroll.com