Content of the material
- Benefits of Having Only One Child
- 1. Focused and Ambitious
- 2. Strong Bond with Parents
- 3. Independent Compared to Other Children
- 4. Preference to Pursuing Sole Activities
- 5. Substantially More Mature Than Their Peers
- 6. A Better Ability and Outlook for Making Friends
- 2. The kids entertain and become friends with each other
- How is your partner doing?
- Would having another baby fit our familys lifestyle?
- What type of relationship do you want with your kids?
- What type of life do you want?
- What about your family’s budget (now and in the future)?
- Marriage makes it more fun to have a second child
- Major Causes of Sibling Rivalry
- Is it good to have only one child?
- How many kids is it safe for a woman to have?
- What are the difficulties of having multiple children?
- What are the benefits of having multiple children?
- How do I know if having another child is right for me?
- When should you have your second child?
- Does financial security make a second child more fun?
- Three children
- 5. You know how to care for children better
- The good news
- All this leads us to the real paradox
- The impact on your relationship
Benefits of Having Only One Child
Parents often wonder why having one child is better than having two. While there are the usual benefits of ease of handling finances and children better, there are some more reasons that make a strong case for opting to have a single child. Here are some qualities that only children develop, that tilt the scales in favour of having only one child.
1. Focused and Ambitious
Since parents have a single child to look after, they make sure he gets all the attention and support in life. This helps him get better at different prospects of life, and have a support system that stays with him through the ages. Such children also have higher self-confidence and belief in their own abilities.
2. Strong Bond with Parents
Having a single child allows parents to spend enough time with him, which goes beyond the simple aspects of parenting and helps develop a sense of camaraderie in the child as he grows up. This helps in creating a strong bond between the child and the parents, instilling within him a sense of care and responsibility for you when he grows up.
3. Independent Compared to Other Children
Our current lifestyles leave a major chunk of time where your child will be by himself. This provides him with the impetus to start figuring out things by himself and develop the skill of independence that helps cultivate a nature of being self-motivated.
4. Preference to Pursuing Sole Activities
A single child has the added advantage of letting loose his complete self in a singular activity with full zest. Things such as painting, reading, singing, or playing an instrument require some solitude and single children are more comfortable with it.
5. Substantially More Mature Than Their Peers
Right from doing their own chores to helping around the house, from engaging in conversations with parents to being a part of other discussions, single children are exposed to the worlds adults live in pretty early in life, which also makes them more mature than other kids.
6. A Better Ability and Outlook for Making Friends
Humans are social animals at the end of the day. Single children are more open to stepping out of their comfort zone and interacting with other kids in an attempt to befriend them.
2. The kids entertain and become friends with each other
This is my favorite result of having two. My kids are the best of friends. They entertain each other, laugh together, teach each other things, and take a lot of stress off of me.
I am no longer the sole source of socialization at home.
It is so good for them to learn to share, to comfort each other, and to work together.
When we decided to have two we were not anticipating a divorce. It has been such a blessing that my children get to go to their dad and step-mom’s home and then come home to us together.
They are each other’s constant in the world and because of this, they have a very strong bond.
How is your partner doing?
Let’s say you are doing well but maybe your significant other isn’t. Is their health good? Are they reaching their parenting limit? Their stress limit? Are they able to do self-care?
Remember that it is just as important that your other half wants another. While they might not be the one who is pregnant, adding another baby to the family will increase parenting demands on both parents. Getting divorced because of kids is a very real thing.
According to Forbes Magazine, “a woman who wants a child or children much more strongly than her spouse is twice as likely to divorce as couples who agree on the number of children they want.”
Do you have time for each other?
Having more babies changes how much time and energy you have for your other half. I never realized how being a mom would be so 24/7. It is so hard to find time to go out to dinner. Honestly, I even find it hard to catch up with each other at dinner or have a conversation that lasts more than a few minutes in the evening.
Now depending on your unique situation, this might not be the case for you. We don’t live near family so we can’t just drop kids off at Grandma’s to go out to dinner.
Would having another baby fit our familys lifestyle?
Each family has their own lifestyle. What type of lifestyle do you want to have? Does the number of kids match the lifestyle you want and the budget you have?
What type of relationship do you want with your kids?
For me, I want to be always able to spend individualized time with each child. I want to be able to “date” my kids. I want them to spend time with me and their dad one on one. I want to give each child a lot of personalized attention and I know that the more kids I have, the less I can do this.
Along those lines, I also want to have them do extracurriculars and be able to attend them. I want to be able to go to the soccer game and the dance lessons. I won’t be able to go to everything because I literally can’t be in two places at once. The more kids means the less they can do and the higher chance of overlap. I can’t be at the soccer game and dropping off someone else at dance lessons.
What type of life do you want?
I really love to travel. Additionally, all of our family is on the other coast so to just see family, we need to fly cross country. We hope to see family at least once a year and also go on vacations with our kids yearly. This means both plane flights and car rides. Traveling is expensive. Each child adds to that cost. If we have more kids, we cannot travel as much.
What about your family’s budget (now and in the future)?
I think most people understand that more kids means more money. You have to have a bigger car, bigger place, bigger dining room table, etc. Another baby means more daycare and preschool, etc. It is very easy to see the initial costs but the number of kids changes how much you can spend on each kid permanently.
To me this is a big deal because I want to spend money throughout the years on extracurriculars. It is just a fact of life that the number of children I have will decide on just how much I can spend on their activities like dance class, summer camps and music lessons.
Additionally, I want to give my kids the best start in life and to me that also means a great financial start. Since birth, we have been putting money away for their college funds. The more kids I have, the less I can give each one. I hope to be able to help them out with college, weddings, and their first car. I want to be able to set them up to not have financial stress.
Marriage makes it more fun to have a second child
Certainly, married people are more likely than singles to gain happiness from having another child. When a study in the UK divided people by marital status, the life satisfaction of married people increased with each additional kid. However, unmarried folks saw their happiness decline with each child.
Other studies contest this finding. In the twin and “traditional” parent studies, married people were less happy with two or more children, with the exception of traditional men. A third study found no effect of one or two kids in married parents but three or more children reduced happiness. But surely, a supportive spouse makes raising another kid much easier.
One surprising finding: in married women (but not in unmarried women), a second child reduces the risk of suicide. A third or fourth child reduces the risk even further. Perhaps, despite any increase in stress level, having a larger family strengthens your sense of purpose and resolve.
If being married is critical to being happy raising another kid, what does having second child do to one’s marriage?
Major Causes of Sibling Rivalry
Lack of structure
When there is a lack of or not enough structure in the home, children don’t feel safe, they feel anxious. They don’t know what to expect, don’t have that steady routine to ground them.
Tension from above
Intense sibling rivalry usually reflects intense marital issues. Children often replicate what the parents are already doing.
Negative attention or a lack of attention
When attention is short, when there is little to go around, generally one or two children will begin to act out to get what attention they can, becoming the “bad kid” who is always in trouble.
Lack of problem-solving
Problems need to be put to rest to keep them from constantly becoming a source of conflict. But often the larger concern is that if problems are not addressed, the child feels ignored, that they are not important, that they have no voice.
When one child is given much more than another child, that child begins to feel neglected, or feels as though they've done something wrong.
Is it good to have only one child?
Having only one child is much easier on parents. Having only one child allows the parent to be more attuned to the emotional needs of the single child. Attention can be more directly focused, saving for college is easier, and it's much easier to afford a smaller home. That said, you shouldn't structure your family in such a way that makes money the primary motivator. Families are bigger than money. The choice is yours, just make sure you are capable of providing the emotional support your child needs without destroying their individuality.
How many kids is it safe for a woman to have?
This is dependent on the availability of resources, including healthy food, a good shelter, a healthy lifestyle, etc. Generally speaking, the more children a woman has, the more damaging it can be to her health in the long term. However, this damage is more visible in developing nations than it is in developed nations with well-organized and well-equipped medical services.
What are the difficulties of having multiple children?
- Having a child is a great strain on the body.
- The older a woman gets, the riskier it is for her to have a second child.
- Having more children costs more money, making it harder to save for college.
- Parents will likely not be able to spend equal time with each child.
- The more children a woman has, the harder pregnancy is on the woman's body.
What are the benefits of having multiple children?
- If you enjoy parenting, then you'll make more great memories with each child.
- The older children can help lift some of the burden off of their parents.
- Older children can babysit and help with some of the other chores.
How do I know if having another child is right for me?
- Consider your finances.
- Consider whether or not you'll be able to spend adequate time with each child.
- Consider whether or not you'll be able to afford a large enough house or apartment to give your kids adequate space.
- Think about what it was like to raise your first child and weigh the pros and cons.
When should you have your second child?
Studies suggest that getting pregnant within 18 months after your first child is born can make it more likely that your second child will be born early, underweight, or smaller than usual for the number of months he was in the womb. Make sure you wait at least 18 months before becoming pregnant again.
Does financial security make a second child more fun?
Denmark has one of the strongest social safety nets in the world. So, looking at the life satisfaction of parents here may best represent how children effect happiness when money is not an issue.
The twin study from Denmark found that the number of children significantly affected women aged 25-45. In this age range, each child beyond the first decreased life satisfaction. But once the kids moved out? Children did not effect happiness at all in people aged 50-70. Then, only marital status became relevant.
Likewise, a study from America looked at people 45 and over, comparing life satisfaction according to 22 different factors, like marriage, age, and personal wealth. They found that children had no bearing on a person’s happiness. Instead, socioeconomic status, the quality of health, and how often a person got together with friends became critical. Further, researchers compared time with family to time with friends. Friends were the significant factor in happiness.
So, it may be that if you have a strong retirement plan, children will have the biggest influence on your life satisfaction while they are living at home. And even if you can afford to care for multiple children, you still may not be happier raising them.
But how much money does it take to afford having another child?
Parents of three or more children often say that the ‘jump’ from two to three children felt bigger than the jump from zero to one. Others say that it was easier than the jump from one to two. Some of the things that parents say online about having three children include:
The practicalities of life become more complicated when you are trying to juggle the demands of three. This can be stressful and exhausting and at times life can feel really chaotic.
Cars are expensive. A third child means a jump up in price from a car that will carry two plus two comfortably to one that carries two plus three, particularly if all three need child seats.
The rewards of having three children that love you are just as multiplied as the stresses.
So many holiday and restaurant packages are for ‘2 plus 2’. Hotel ‘family rooms’ hardly ever accommodate five.
5. You know how to care for children better
With my first, learning to take care of my son when he was sick, teething, had trouble sleeping, or was hurt was scary and quite daunting. These times sent me to books, the phone (to call my sister or mom), or blogs.
I learned a ton about different sleep strategies, teething tools, how to take care of a sick baby, etc.
Other things I had to learn were how to survive on less sleep, how to nap while the baby was napping, etc.
With my second, I felt more like a pro and less like I was navigating uncharted waters. I knew what to do and when. I felt more comfortable with the ups and downs one experiences as a parent.
I even found myself giving advice to friends who would ask for it who were embarking on parenthood themselves.
The good news
I can hear you thinking… but there’s got to be an explanation for why we’re making children, right? Otherwise, we would never have gotten this far as a species!?
And there is.
Because as emotionally taxing as having children may be, it has also proven to be a great source – if not the most powerful source – of life satisfaction, self-esteem and meaning, especially for women (Hansen, T., Slagsvold, B., Moum, T., 2009), even though men are a lot more likely to view childlessness as disadvantageous (Blake, J., 1979,).
This is true even, or even more so, during tough times and is illustrative of the fact that cognitive evaluation (what you think) and emotions (what you feel) are not on the same continuum.
I.e. we can value something and find it meaningful even if it detracts from our happiness in the moment.
In the words of Baumeister:
“Sometimes the quest for meaning can override the quest for happiness.”
But wait a minute.
That sounds familiar…
All this leads us to the real paradox
The real paradox is not the Parenthood Paradox, but why people seemingly strive for personal happiness even though they would choose meaning and/or life satisfaction (subjective evaluation of one’s life as a whole) over personal happiness when push comes to shove.
It goes to show that, once again, we not only suck at predicting what will make us happy (as explained in Dan Gilbert’s “Stumbling on Happiness“), but also at valuing our personal happiness compared to other things, such as meaning in life.
And besides… happiness is so fragile.
Happiness fades with the first punch that life throws at you.
The impact on your relationship
Having a baby is an enormous task. Whilst it is a wonderful one, a new baby will take your attention away from each other. It can bond a good relationship, and enhance it with a new, shared task that makes you appreciate each other more. It can also mean you need to work harder to keep your relationship as good as you want it to be.
There is evidence, from large studies of families, that having children makes couples more likely to stay together but less likely to feel happy and fulfilled by their relationship.
Over time, on average, relationship satisfaction tends to fall whatever you do. The drop in this relationship happiness happens more quickly in couples who have children – probably because they cease to be mainly interested in each other. Worse still, the decrease in relationship satisfaction affects overall happiness. Despite this, the same studies show that many people rate parenting as their greatest joy in life.