2+1 or 2+2 or 2+3…?

I’ve said many times that the first child is for the parents and the second child is for the first child. But that was before I had my own second baby. Now, I think  my theory was only partially true. The reality is that both,  children AND parents, benefit from being a part of a bigger family. Of course, on a daily basis we just might be too tired to notice the advantages of having multiple offsprings. But they are there,  hiding under those chunky car seats in the back of our cars, or behind those never-enough gallons of milk in the fridge.   I’m speaking from a very short experience as a parent, but I do have three younger brothers, and this is what comes to my mind in defense of families bigger than 2+1:

Benefits for the parents:

1. Having more than one child broadens our parenting experience. No two children are alike and there are no templates applicable to every child. Having more children gives us an opportunity to closely observe the uniqueness of our little ones.

2. Having more than one child helps us to create a healthy balance in the relationship with children. With one child, it is easy to fall in a trap of doing things that one little bit too much: worrying too much, helping too much, controlling too much… Having more children naturally creates a balanced relationship with children, which results in less stressed parents and  more independent children.

3. Having more children helps us to give up the nonsense. If one child can keep us pretty busy then two or more children can make us exhausted. We work around the clock, sleep next to nothing. We are our children’s drivers, cooks, maids and have to remember about everyone’s lunch boxes and dentist’s appointments. Not to mention the never-ending piles laundry and the always-missing-something  shopping lists. To be an engaged parent of two or more can be a sanity test. One doesn’t have time or energy for redundancies, like obsessive cleaning, ironing bed sheets and underwear, reading gossip magazines or writing thank you notes in response to thank you cards.

4. Having more children makes us more sensible and practical shoppers. Who needs all this stuff in the store anyway?! When I think about all the things we bought and never used with our first son, it is a ridiculously long list. As opposed to those  few things we really needed. I am so much wiser the second time around.  I am fully embracing the art of minimalism.

5. Having more children gives us a chance to do all those things we wanted but somehow never did with our first children. Whether it is writing a baby journal or doing baby yoga, the more kids we have the more chances there are that we’ll execute our plans. Eventually.

Benefits for the children:

1. Having a sibling means having a companion, friend, roommate,  tennis partner, you name it. Some children bond immediately, for some it takes years to appreciate each other’s existence. What matters is that one day they will find each other.

2. Having a sibling naturally teaches children sharing, taking turns, waiting and other useful life skills. Of course a lot depends how parents play the cards. I noticed for example that my super impatient preschooler who always wanted to have things done “now” is more understanding since the arrival of his brother. He sees that I am busy feeding or changing the baby and lets me finish my job before attending to his needs. On the other hand, I sometimes let the baby cry for a minute longer so I can finish reading a book with my older son. They both need to see they are equally important to me.

3. Having a sibling lessens the responsibility for the parents later in life. I’ve noticed that grown-ups who are only children often have an elevated sense of commitment to their parents. They want to live close enough or come visit often, in case the parents get sick. They are under a pressure to get married and have children, so that their parents could finally become grandparents. They generally are more anxious to please their parents, not themselves. Having a sibling means sharing the stress of being a child- however crazy it sounds.

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