This is another one of those posts that has been on my mind for awhile. Truth be told, it has been sitting in my drafts folder for months and months. Something I have been wanting to say but am so afraid of being the cause of one of my wonderful readers feeling angry or hurt, especially since I recognize that family size is not always up to you, that ultimately it’s in God’s hands. This post is not directed at those struggling with infertility or other issues and truly have very little say in how many children they have. I’ve talked about family size before, I know what a sensitive topic it can be. I wholeheartedly believe just as I always have that how many children you do or do not decide to have is really nobody’s business but your own. There is no wrong or right. There is only what is right for you and your family.
I once read a blog post where the writer shared their reasons for why having one child had so many benefits, and no drawbacks. I wish I could get into specifics but I was not able to find it again. I do seem to remember that it came from a blog that I typically really enjoy and love their content across all social media, so normally I’ve got nothing but love for them. One specific thing I do recall from this post was the statement that they were able to give their child “more” because they only had one.
That statement did not sit well with me.
I think what prompted me to finally write these thoughts down is that I more recently read another blog post celebrating the benefits of being an only child. Whereas I have no problem with the premise (I’m sure there are tons of benefits to being an only child, although I wouldn’t personally know since I’m not one myself), I did have an issue with several of the points that she made, including that being an only child would help you learn independence, give you an amazing imagination, and it would probably make you love reading. Again, this post came from another blog that I usually love reading and I don’t want the authors of these two blogs to think that I’m hating on them. I also recognize that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but it does kind of rub me the wrong way when people try to force their opinions on others, or associate correlation with causation.
I have a truth bomb to throw at you; two, actually.
If you have lots of children you’re missing out.
If you have one child you’re missing out.
Those are two truths, whether you want to accept it or not. There are pros and cons to a large family, just like there are pros and cons to being in the “one and done” club. All that matters is that it works for you and your family. Let’s delve into this a little bit, shall we?
I grew up in a family of four girls. I now am a parent of four (almost five) children; so honestly, that is all I know. A family of six is considerably larger than the average US household size of 2.54 (as of 2015). I hear those parents argue that they can give their children “more”, more time, more financially, just more. I suppose to some extent that’s true. It stands to reason that a family that has one or two children to raise will have more money to spend on trips, schooling, clothing, toys, electronics… I concede that smaller families may feel like they have more time to spend with their children on an individual basis.
I do think that as a stay-at-home mom to four children who are all so close in age there are some things I’m missing out on. Most of our vacations are trips to see family, which is fun but let’s face it, any parent will tell you that’s not a vacation. I’d love to take a trip to Europe, or even be able to afford to take my kids to Disney World. but have you priced out plane tickets for a family of six lately?! Not to mention activities, food, etc. I’d love to have new clothes, finish all our house projects, eat out more, get my nails done regularly, and a hundred other little things that most people think are normal but for me it’s hard to justify when Thing 1 needs new shoes and Thing 2 needs a new jacket. I don’t want to come across sounding like we’re destitute, by the way; we’re just on a budget. We plan and budget and save for things we consider to be “extras” and other people consider to be normal.
You know what though? That’s our season of life right now and it’s okay.
I wouldn’t trade their relationship with each other. I wouldn’t trade our family tree with its sprawling branches because not only do they have each other, but they have a large network of aunts, uncles, and cousins. From the get-go they’ve learned to be individuals to stand apart from their siblings, and they’ve also learned to work together as a team to accomplish a goal (usually that goal involves something that drives me crazy, but hey, teamwork is teamwork, right?). They’ve learned to share, to be empathetic, to be thoughtful, to take turns, to rely on each other, to offer support, to serve, to sacrifice. Am I saying that your only child doesn’t possess these qualities? Absolutely not, because I recognize that correlation is different from causation.
I won’t sit here and argue that our way is better, or that larger families are happier. I won’t argue that by giving my children siblings I’ve given them more, because just because something is right for my family doesn’t mean that it’s right for yours. I’m simply asking that you recognize that no matter what you are missing out on something, it just depends on what you’re willing to miss out on.