Congratulations to Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, on the birth of their baby boy!
As a fellow parent, I would like to offer them some advice. Harry and Meghan, you need to have a second baby as soon as possible.
And no, I don’t mean because of the biological clock (Meghan is 37). Here’s the painful truth: society does not consider you to be a legitimate parent when you have only one child.
I found this out after I had my first baby in 2014. Whenever I tried to say anything about my approach to parenting, I got hit with dismissive snorts, eye rolls, and comments like:
- You’re only doing that because you’re a mother of one.
- Oh, that’s typical for a first-time parent.
- Just wait till you have more kids.
- Try doing that with four kids under the age of five. (Note: is that biologically possible?)
There’s even a nasty online acronym for first-time parents: POOPCUPs (Parents Of One Perfect Child Under Preschool-age). Popular blog Scary Mommy has a post complaining that parenting advice from POOPCUPs is even more annoying than advice from people who don’t have kids.
What are these “real” parents of more than one child getting at? They make it sound like the first baby wears organic cotton and eats quinoa with kale. But once you add a second, your children will live on Cheetos and dance around naked with plastic bags on their heads.
Why is there so much scorn for first-time parents? I truly cannot account for it. Perhaps the “real parents” object to idealism. Most new parents have high expectations for what they hope to achieve with their first baby. Yes, these get lowered a bit when reality strikes. But what’s so bad about starting out with idealism? If you don’t aim high, you will also never get very far.
My second baby was born in 2016, 23 months after my first. My husband and I had previously agreed we’d like to have our kids close in age. So I wasn’t capitulating to the pressure to become a “real mom” of two children. But I did feel a certain relief to escape the POOPCUP label.
And what’s changed since we added a second baby? Quite frankly, not a whole lot. My parenting standards and goals are roughly the same as when I had just one. The biggest change is that I have less time to lavish on my eldest because my second needs me as well. And that’s probably a good thing. It’s not healthy for children to be fussed over constantly by adults.
One change, however, is that other parents cannot dismiss me anymore. Not once has anyone said to me, “Oh, you’re a typical mother of two,” or “Just wait ‘till you have a third child.” In our society, when you have a second child, you are an honest-to-goodness, legitimate parent. And it feels great!
So, Harry and Meghan, I know you’ve got your hands full with your newborn son right now. But, if you want to be taken seriously as parents, you need to start thinking about having a second baby – and the sooner, the better.
[Image Credit: Office of the Governor-General CC BY 4.0]
Emma Freire is a writer living in Sao Paulo, Brazil. She has also been published in The Federalist and The American Conservative.