When my family moved to Chennai in 1974, my elder daughter was 15 months old and my wife was expecting our second baby in another six months. In spite of precautions, when my wife conceived a second time, we thought of going in for abortion. But a chance meeting with a good friend and his wife at a party and the advice they gave us prevented us from taking any drastic action. I recall the friend`s wife telling us; ` We were clear that we will not have another baby for at least 5 or 6 years after the birth of our son. Because we wanted to give our boy full attention until he started going to school. When we were ready to have a second child, it would not come. Our boy grew up as a single child without a sibling. Though we tried our best to make up the vacuum by spending a lot of quality time with him, showering him with affection and gifts- it was not the same. He grew up to be an aggressive, self centred person who did not understand the concept of sharing anything with anybody. He became a lonely child with the inherent problems faced by such single children. My advice to you would be to go ahead with the pregnancy and gift a sibling to your daughter soon. God Bless`
In retrospect I am glad that we did not take any action to prevent my second daughter from coming into this world. She became a good company for my eldest child .Seeing the two kids playing, fighting and generally keeping themselves engaged at the independent home we moved into in Sastri Nagar was very reassuring and fun. Especially because the independent home we were staying had no neighbours. There were no other children in the area for my children to play with.
I remember an incident involving the visit of a friend`s family with their only child- a son, the same age as my daughters. While playing with my daughters, with a longing in his eyes, he innocuously asked` How does it feel to have a brother or sister?` It was obvious that he badly missed the company of a sibling.
When one is faced with stress in life there is no one like a brother or sister for sharing. To have one is a real blessing.
Though there may be exceptions, especially if the single children have the company of their cousins to play with; most of single children in my opinion grow up to be either over aggressive or introverted unable to blend well with the society at large.
My advice to young couples is to have not one but two kids in quick succession, when they still have the energy required to cope with the rigors of bringing up two kids together. Unfortunately modern day, working couples, have no time even for a single child, leave alone thinking of providing a sibling.
Singapore and China tried to implement the `Single child` policy, to solve their countries` population problem only to reverse it later when it created a huge social and demographic crisis. But India had a more realistic slogan `Hum Do, Hamare Do` as a family planning policy. Hope modern day youngsters continue to follow this policy so that we have a healthier and compassionate society!
This article appeared in the June 12-18 issue of Adyar Times under my column `Rajan`s Random Reflections`