Tanzania: My “One Child” Policy

Tanzania: My “One Child” Policy

Nancy Sumari
I grew up in a family of five children, with a year and a half between each child. I remember our household always feeling crowded, and, of course, privacy was unheard of.

The fact that we were three sisters meant that hand me downs and sharing clothing was a huge part of life, and it also meant that I did not always get to enjoy and appreciate my favorite shirt or shoes long enough. Let’s not even mention how much fighting went on. We basically disagreed on and fought over everything! When I think of how much noise and bickering went on, my head starts spinning.

We were five siblings. I often repeat those words in my head just so that I can try to understand exactly how my parents managed to work long hours to provide for us and raise us. They did this all while still managing to maintain good relationships with all of us.

It was always hard for me to wrap my head around how they handled it all, and, therefore, I ended up never wanting a big family.

Every time I say that to someone, who (impolitely) asks if I’m thinking of having a second child, I get gasps and shocking looks. In many of our African and especially Tanzanian families, having and being happy with just one child is rather strange.  “Why?” “Are you sure?” “Won’t she be lonely?”  Are some of the many questions that come flying at me.

The truth is, I am happy. Yes, with just only one child. It works for us, we are happy, and having a grand time. I am managing perfectly, meshing my schedule with hers. I feel that I’m able to give the best of myself to motherhood this way and in this space.  At least in the meantime, that is. I don’t doubt that in the foreseeable future she will start asking for a sibling. *Laughs*

I must say, though, that I do worry. Is it easier to spoil a child if it’s just her? What about narcissism? Is she more susceptible to it because she is often all on her own? What about being a loner? I even worry about the difference it would make in our relationship if, in fact, I do have a second baby.  *Crazy mom talking*

How many children do you have? What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of having only one child?

This is an original post by Nancy Sumari from Tanzania. You can find more of her writing at Mama Zuri.

Photo credit to the author.