November 2011: The family-planning dilemma—how many kids should you have. Presenting all sides of the story…
We’re really lucky, aren’t we? No longer held ransom to our biology, we’re in control of the number of kids we want to have (or don’t). So instead of naming a ‘Baskari’ (meaning ‘stop’, true story!) in frustration, we can actually bus karo.
But how many kids is ideal? Now, there is no ideal one-size-fits-all answer. Your culture, money situation (kids are expensive, do you have the space—beyond a certain age, it is unhealthy for different-sex siblings to share a room), circumstances (are you a single parent?), etc are unique to you. But let’s take a look at the pros and cons of your options.
3 is a Crowd, More is an Army!
… To appropriate a cliché. Unless you have to have more than two kids (religion, organ-donor compatibility, etc), try not to “make a mistake” (mother-of-three Shalini’s words, not mine). Not only are you contributing more than your fair share to the over-populated planet, you and your resources—time, money, effort—will be that much more stretched.
This is not to say that there aren’t advantages to your kids having more than one sibling. Studies have shown that, the higher the combined IQ in the house, the smarter the kids.
1, Like the Sun
I’m a single child (no cousins either)! Whenever I’ve told people that, the first reaction is usually, “You must be so spoilt!” Sure, I was. But there was also the pressure of expectations, the loneliness, the lack of a ready play-partner/advice-giver, etc.
But of course, one could argue that my hyper-imagination is the result of all the times I had to find creative ways to entertain myself. There’s also the undivided budget, attention and time, that gives single kids an improved quality of life. The extra care (and boredom) made me confident enough to seek the company I needed, and make water-is-as-thick-as-blood friendships. Plus, there’s my attachment to animals—my parents kept pets to make me less selfish and bored, something experts and I suggest all parents of single kids (all kids, actually) must do.
2 Have or Not 2 Have
Two kids seem to have the best of both worlds. Each other’s love, company and stimulation tend to balance and compensate for the parents’ divided time-effort-money. Not all is always hunky-dory, and your family dynamic and their personalities will determine how healthy the sibling relationship it.
Bottom-line: While two is the most popular pick among the mothers we spoke to (it has my vote too), you can bring up healthy, happy kids, whether they’re one of one, one of two or one of many. There are advantages and disadvantages all around, so take a call depending on what works for you!
This article appeared on Yowoto—a now-defunct parenting website startup that I helped incubate as Editor-in-chief—in November 2011.
While I’m now a firm childless antinatalist, my politics weren’t fully formed when I took this short-lived assignment to explore the digital side of publishing (though it was never a good fit). Nonetheless, some of the articles I wrote at the time are interesting.