Thursday, 7 August 2014

Raising a Singular Child

Gone are the days when people used to say, "Santanle danda kanda dhakun," (May your children sprawl everywhere) or "Euta aankho ke aankho, euta chhoro ke chhoro," (What's the use of a single eye or only child). We know, with time everything changes. These days, especially in the cities, parents have started preferring to have a single child, no matter whether a girl or a boy. The reasons for this may be varied. Some women decide not to conceive a second child in order to balance a career with motherhood. Others have financial constraints. In addition to these, giving a primary attention to education or career, women are getting married at a later age so they do not want to risk their life delivering many children.

Apparently, child experts list several advantages of having a singular child, including parents having more time and financial resources to give the child and the child not having to deal with sibling rivalry or comparison. Barbara Holland, a child expert and writer, also speaks for a single child and says that one child is a manageable appendage.

No doubt, there are excellent tips available on how to parent a single child. For instance, you should focus your entire attention on the child because you do not need to divide your attention and concern between two or more children. You should not spoil your child by showering expensive gifts all the time. You should keep him/her busy in different creative activities so that s/he will not get time to feel lonely. You should expand your family or friend circle to socialize the child, and many more.

However, being pretty aware of such suggestions the parents of a single child have to face many kinds of challenges. Obviously, a single child is highly demanding. S/he knows about their importance for parents. Therefore, the child never lets a chance slip through his/her hand without the expected reward. Another specialty of a singular child is that s/he is excessively dependent upon parents; as much as the parents try to make their child independent in study, dressing up, placing playthings properly and so on, as less as the child shows an interest to fulfill their desires. The child demands over-protection too. Similarly, a single child is quite possessive of undivided parental love.
S/he does not tolerate if their parents show any affection towards other children. When the child sees the parents mixing up with 'other' children, s/he gets jealous and bursts into anger. At such a situation sometimes the kid does not forget to threaten the parents, "I'll leave the house and go away, then you'll see..." or "I'll die if you don't only love me." Above all, a single child is time-consuming. The parents have to spend almost all their spare time with the kid -  talking, listening, playing, reading, paying sole attention, and what not. The couple hardly share any private time together as long as the child is around.

Yet, besides facing many challenges and difficulties a singular child is in demand particularly among working parents. In the course of parenting, such parents can learn many skills. First of all, they learn how to manage their anger, then how to be patient and calm. They practise to be a good listener. They also develop their skill on time management. They gain persuading power, to name some.

 Anyway, a singular child is not an obligation but a choice. Parents play key roles in how children behave or develop - whether a child is the only one or one of ten. The difference is that parental efforts and actions are intensified as the number of children decreases. The parents of only child do not have other children to
distract them so they tend to be more focused on their child. They can help their child to self-entertain. The usual tendency is seen to fill the child's life with planned activities or quality time with them, but the child needs to learn how to cope with the unstructured time too. It might not be easy at first - especially if the child is not used to 'alone time.' The parents can help by sitting down with the child and assisting him/her to come up with a list of activities the child can do all by himself or herself. Gradually, the child stops to ask for his/her parents' 100% time and attention, so the couple might get some quality moments for themselves as well.

(Published in an English Daily The Rising Nepal on Friday, March 24, 2006)
[The pictures on this blog are posted here with permission from their owners or have been gathered from various sources on the Internet. If you are the copyright-holder to any of the photographs herein do not hesitate to contact me. They will be swiftly removed if desired so.]

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I would appreciate any and all suggestions on making improvements (as long as they are viable).