28, 30, 2, and 4: The Code for the Perfect Family?

Keep in mind that what I’m about to share is based on the work of esteemed psychiatrist and author of The Isis Papers , Dr. Frances Cress Welsing.  The “numbers” and ideas behind them are hers.  The analysis of those ideas is mine.

Dr. Welsing has suggested for some time that the Black community follow the numbers 28, 30, 2, and 4:

28 is the age to marry.  According to Dr. Welsing, people should not marry until they master their self-esteem, and understand that they are solely responsible for their own happiness.  She cites that when her patients divorce, they typically tell her that their mate “didn’t make them happy”, which suggests that they were transferring the responsibility for their own happiness onto the other persons shoulders.

In short, it is your responsibility to make yourself happy, well-adjusted, and at peace.  By 28 you should realize that no one can do that for you but you.

30 is the minimum age for bearing children, and I agree with this one the most.  I’ve been saying for some time now that there is a difference between loving your child, and systematically preparing your child to be successful.  As Black parents, we all love our children and would give them the world–but love alone won’t make sure your child has a large working vocabulary by the time they start 1st grade, or can read above grade level by 4th grade, or has visited so many college campuses by middle school that the very notion of graduating from a university is a mere foregone conclusion.  And love alone won’t ensure that your teenager knows to take AP classes in high school, because AP classes will put him/her on a better track toward that university.

What does being 30 have to do with this?  Go back to your sociology textbook and it will tell you that older parents are more prepared parents. They tend to have income, resources, maturity, and patience that younger parents don’t have.  Dr. Welsing says that older parents have not only spent more time discussing child rearing, but have also had more time to enjoy life, grow, and position themselves to successfully raise kids. They are also more likely to be married at 30 than by 18.

I cannot write this without disclosing that I’m 30, my oldest child is 7 and my youngest is 1 (I have two).  I’m writing this from the perspective of someone who knows how difficult it is to be a young parent, and conversely, how much easier it is to raise children when you “have your stuff together”.

The third number is 2, and this represents the maximum number of children we should have.  Welsing points out that wealthy, affluent families tend to have fewer children, while middle, working, and lower class families tend to have more.  The point is that no family should have more children than they can adequately take care of–if you can take care of 8 and you want 8, great.  But children should not have to suffer.  A child might have 99 problems, but whether they will eat that day, or whether they will have clothes that fit, or whether their parents can afford to move them to a reasonably safe environment should not be among them.

4, the final number, stands for how many years apart our children should be.  “Our children are not getting enough lap time and nurturance”, says Dr. Welsing in a 1999 speech recorded in New York.  When children do not get enough time being nurtured, they can become tremendously desirous for attention, which can lead to “acting out”, disruptive behavior, and looking for attention from others who may not have their best interest.  I think about this a lot with my own kids, and I put forth effort to let them know how special they are to me.  I take my daughter out on dates, play games with her, and make time to ask her about her friends, interests, and feelings.  With my 1-year-old son (actually 1 1/2) I try to pick him up every time he asks me to (he says, “UP!”).  I read to him, play with him, and give him my attention when he wants it.  The bottom line is if you want well-adjusted kids you have to put in the time–not TV time, but real, meaningful time with positive interaction.

Well, there it is.  Do you agree, disagree, or did you not make it this far because you had better things to do than read about some arbitrary numbers that someone literally made up off the top of their head?

2 thoughts on “28, 30, 2, and 4: The Code for the Perfect Family?

  1. I agree with the overall idea. It has been proven that those who get married later in life have a grater chance of having a sucessful marriage and not getting divorced. My family has almost perfectly followed Dr. Welsings model (not on purpose). My mother got married at when she was 28 and had me (her oldest child) a month before she turned 30. She and my father had two kids (my brother and I). Where my family stears away from the model is in the number of years apart between my brother and I. We are only a year and a half apart. Dr. Welsings concern of the child not having enough time alone to be nurtured may be true. I do like attention. This blog has made me wonder whether the reason I like alot of attention is because I was not nurtured enough as a child.
    Despite stearing away from the four year rule, my family is very sucessful. My parents are still happily married and both my brother and I are in graduate school. So there may be a method to Dr. Welsings madness!

  2. Damn JK, why it gotta be madness? No, I agree with you. I think the numbers are arbitrary and should be taken on a case-by-case basis, but the concept of good ole family planning almost cannot be argued with. Wow, did I just sound Republican?

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