Four Children - Times Article

Here are my Four Children, I didn't know they were a fashion statement!
Four richer, four poorer
How many children make the perfect family? Four seems to be the new ideal for affluent parents. Our correspondent explains why.

Sarah Vine

There’s something in the air. In the more expensive postcodes of Britain, in the upper-earning, over-achieving echelons of life in general, there is a new must-have status symbol. Not a car, not a certain type of house, not a super-sleek yacht, but something much more fundamental – and so much more significant: a child.

Specifically, a fourth child. Leading the pack are some of the richest and most powerful people on the planet: the Blairs, the Gores, the Jaggers, the Pitt-Jolies. Ségolène Royal has four children, as does Ruth Kelly. Roman Abramovich, not to be outdone by mere world leaders and superstars, has five. Nicola Horlick, that veteran overachiever, must have about 27 by now (actually it’s five, but you know what I mean).

Elsewhere, among the ever-increasing ranks of the anonymous super-rich – the fund managers and private equity whizzes – four children has now become almost a minimum requirement. Why? Wouldn’t you have thought that, with all that high-powered posturing, life would be exhausting enough. Why compound things by adding to the never-ending pile of washing and 5am wake-up calls?

Because having four children without incurring so much as a blip in your lifestyle is the ultimate proof of success. The pile of washing is irrelevant: someone else is doing it; there is any number of highly-trained nannies to do the early shift on a Saturday morning. Tony Blair may have been up to his ears in foreign policy when baby Leo came along, but it was a point of principle that he still found time to do the odd night feed. That’s the kind of tough stuff a world leader is made of.

What might defeat ordinary mortals is just so much grist to the alpha daddy’s (or alpha mummy’s) mill. For men, the message is quick and effective: there’s plenty of lead in my pencil. For working women it reinforces just how super they really are: four children, a size ten and still got balls in the boardroom. For nonworking mothers it’s a similar thing: such is their allure that they’ve married an alpha capable of supporting not just her in suitable style, but a nest of embryonic alphas too.

Having four children means that you need a house the size of Texas; it means a convoy on the school run; an army of highly trained staff; multiple school fees. It’s the Darwinian expression of a person’s physical, mental and social superiority.

By comparison, people like myself, for whom two is already plenty hard work, both in terms of holding down a job and generally retaining some, however small, vestige of sanity, are losers.

A friend, whose wife has vetoed having even a third child, let alone a fourth, recently found himself accused of mediocrity (by a father-of-four colleague, naturally).

Mediocrity? What are these people on? And can I have some?


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