Of Eagles and Rats: Family Structures and Socio-Economics

I will be candid and honest here. I find it very annoying and irksome when people ask me why I only have one child and have decided never to have another one. These sort of people go on with their reasons that the child might become unhappy, lacking in social stimulus, and all of those same tired illogical reasons to having more than one child. I explain my reasons to them (along with my reasons for homeschooling and other lifestyle choices), they seem very baffled given that it goes against much of the traditional Filipino culture norms (machismo, two or more children, head of household working in some big corporation, etc.).

In such times, especially when such people encourage me to have a second child, I have this urge to question or tell them, “Since you want it so bad, why don’t you have another child yourself?” or “Perhaps you are rich enough. Maybe I can ask you for financial support for your suggestion.”

If you ask these people why they want to have children, they can’t provide you with a decent and logical answer. For one thing, if you had asked me why I wanted to have a child, I would answer you in this manner:

  1. It fulfills the natural, biological urge to reproduce
  2. It is a fulfillment of the need to build a family
  3. It fulfills the desire to share one’s life and nurture another

I’m being honest here when I state such reasons. I wouldn’t answer you with some answer that would come across as hypocritical. I would not lie as well when I tell you that I cannot fulfill the third reason if I had more than one child. Should I then try to have another child? If I did, the likelihood of ruining the life of my son and that hypothetical child would be great indeed.

To clarify a few reasons for having only a single child, let me describe to you two of God’s creatures and how they differ: the eagle and the rat.

The eagle is a creature that has such high esteem. It is an apex predator, a high-flying bird that rules the air with telescopic vision, sharp talons and a powerful beak. They tend to build their nests in high places. Once an eagle finds its mate, it is for life, an example of monogamy in the animal kingdom. Reproduction tends to be minimal with only about one to three eggs in the nest. In many cases, only a single eaglet succeeds to go on into adulthood. To me, an Eagle represents a vision of going to what seems to be unreachable heights, of dreaming big and doing something noble in life.

The rat, on the other hand, is usually a prey animal. It has poor vision. It’s survival as a species depends on being able to reproduce rapidly, often with multiple partners. It may be crafty but its no apex predator and is always on the lunch menu. It dwells in dark places where they can scavenge for food easily, acting as a pest inside human dwellings. I’m not surprised of the fact that the rat is often used as an analogy for a state of being destitute.

Following the model of an Eagle makes more sense to me because it espouses the “quality over quantity” concept. Being an “eagle” allows me to provide full resources to a single offspring which improves the chances of that child having a superior level of upbringing. My child would have a better chance of avoiding the kind of problems that Alfred Adler describes in his theories regarding birth order. My son enjoys the diversity of social interaction he gets without being pigeonholed into peers of the same age group. He can therefore have the mentality of an apex predator that would not follow the whims of the herd. It’s the same kind of mentality why I ventured out to become my own boss rather than dwelling in corporate slavery.

If you talk about “rats”, they’re everywhere. Take a tour of downtown Manila and you’ll readily see what I mean. Go to the Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital, and you’ll get a clear picture of how dysfunctional the rat mentality is. There are many people who still have the mistaken belief that children are living insurance policies; in many of these cases, such children turn out to be liabilities as their inept parents are not capable of equipping them well.

Now you know why I choose to be an eagle rather than a rat. I don’t want to be on some other predator’s lunch menu, and I don’t want my son to become prey either.

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