It’s amazingly easy to say the wrong thing. Projecting your issues with your own life on to others, not empathising as to how particular aspects of their life may be different to yours, and may therefore affect them differently. I am as guilty, if not more guilty, of this as the average person.
A recent example was a parent complaining about language used by a group of young adults on a train where there were children present.
I completely empathise with their complaint. I don’t want Moo hearing, and picking up, bad language. Not yet.
But I also remember being a young adult, in a group of friends. Would I have noticed the kids sitting around me on the train? Would I have thought to modify my language? Would I have realised how sponge-like children were before I had kids? I doubt it.
We just seem prone to say things without really thinking of them.
And my current favourite is “At least you only have the one”.
Having multiple kids is tough. 2 kids. 3 kids, more.
Having one child is tough too.
Yes, some people’s lives are more difficult than others. But rarely are we in a position to judge the whole picture.
Having one child might look easy.
Having one child means being that child’s only companion, only playmate, only comforter, for the majority of the time (save for nursery and playdates) particularly when you are a single parent to that one child. And that means no respite, no rest, no downtime.
Having one child might mean accepting that you haven’t provided that child with a family when you are gone, and setting them out in the world on their own – no ready-made set of peers for the future. No siblings, nieces, nephews.
Having one child might not be what that person wanted.
It might be because of infertility. It might be because of financial constraints. It might be because of family breakdown.
It might be hard to that person that they only have the one. It may even be gut-wrenchingly hard.
Having one child is also awesome.
You can give undivided attention.
You can be the playmate, the comforter, the safe place.
The house is occasionally quiet, and you don’t have to barter or balance, or make sure your time is divided. There’s no tag teaming for night time wakings, or ganging up on the parents.
You can provide for them for the future, with fewer financial worries.
It might be exactly what that person wants, their plan for their perfect family.
Whichever way it is, it is. And you make the most of it.
But it’s not harder, or easier. It just is.