A few days ago, I rolled out some reasons why I support large families. You can read the complete post here but, in short, I offered these four reasons why having a big family might be better for parents:
1. Having multiple children spares you the delusion of your child as the standard.
2. More children means getting more use out of everything you bought for the first one.
3. Parenting a large family calls your priorities into question.
4. Parenting multiple children (especially when they’re young) is an endurance sport.
To follow up, I’d now like to offer three reasons why being in a bigger family might be better for your children:
1. Multiple siblings = built-in playmates.
This seems obvious, right? A kid with multiple siblings is never lacking for someone to play with–board games, baseball, a wrestling match, a pedicure, whatever. I know that play-dates with neighbors and friends are really important for socialization, but it’s nice to have a house full of friends. Will siblings always get along? Absolutely not! My two oldest are constantly hot and cold with each other. But, it’s awesome to watch their relationship develop and to see the sweet moments of love between them. This is particularly important to me as I consider what the future looks like for our family in the city. The “safety in numbers” rule will truly be tested with us as I teach my children to rely on each other and take care of each other in an environment that, though not particularly “unsafe,” requires a little extra oversight and preparation. But, even for families outside the city, a child with many siblings has no excuse for being bored or lonely.
2. Sharing with siblings teaches your child that the world does not revolve around them.
Right now, my two oldest children share a bedroom and my youngest will likely move into their room within a matter of months. And we are doing this by choice, not necessity. Three kids in one room. Crazy, right?
Not every only-child is spoiled. I know this. But, out of necessity, a child with multiple siblings must learn the art of sharing. With the exception of families with unlimited space and financial resources, there is no other option for multiple siblings. Why does it matter if a five year-old has to share a bedroom, his toys, or his mother’s attention? Among other reasons, it teaches him that the world does not revolve around him; he is not the only one with legitimate needs or desires. And it instils patience and generosity in the way he deals with those needs and desires in the people around him. It also teaches him that he is not an island, that his life affects others’, and that he has a responsibility to care for others’ things the way he cares for his own. Sharing a home with multiple siblings teaches a child the importance of shared responsibility and respecting shared space. It will (hopefully) make him a better friend, a better college roommate, and a better husband.
3. Having multiple siblings allows your children a built-in support system at the end of your life.
“End of life planning.” A major kill-joy, right? No one wants to think about their impending death or the impact it will have on their family. But, even if we assume that we will live to see our 90th birthday, we have to consider now the responsibilities that will fall on our children then and how to insure that they will not have to bear the weight alone. Caring for elderly, ailing relatives is a big job. And it might be even more emotionally demanding than physically. There is a benefit to multiple siblings sharing the responsibility, especially when there are two parents ailing at the same time. This obviously has its own mess of difficulties, because not all families of siblings will manage the shared responsibilities well. But, if parents are proactive and make decisions early about how their children can help manage it all–their medical care, finances, living situations, and (eventually) their deaths–then there is less decision-making for their children to do and they simply have to divy-up the job. Their multiple siblings will be a built-in support system when they face this difficult situation, one we all face eventually. They will not be left alone. They will still be surrounded by family.
Even though I am a huge supporter of large families–for both the reasons I’ve outlined and more–I’m not willing to force the issue of family size into a black-white category.
So, I’m curious–How many siblings do you have?
How many children do you have?
If you had a choice, how many would you have??
Have you found any of these reasons to be true in our life and family?