I’m not here to knock one-child families. They are that way for any number of reasons, and it is up to them to decide what is right for them. I’m here to let you in on the benefits of having more than one child.
I see all too often someone give us that look like we’re crazy when they see us with our five (soon to be six) children in tow. The simple fact is that we love our crew, and a stranger’s judgemental looks won’t change that. Yes, our house can get loud, messy, even chaotic at times, and I would do it all over again if I could. Giving our children siblings has been one of the greatest blessings for Angela and me.
With each new addition, not only did our hearts grow bigger, but so did the hearts of our other children. We also learned a new level of frugality with each new child. We thought we were good at it with three kids, but dang, we could’ve saved some extra green had we been living as we do with five kids!
Ultimately, growing your family is a decision between you and your spouse. Of course, we encourage it if you’re able to—we’ve seen great things come of it.
Here’s our list of the benefits of having more than one child:
1. Having more than one child helps teach unconditional love.
In the eyes of a toddler or young child, a new baby is just another tiny human. Capable of very little and, honestly, a bit of a burden. The older sibling automatically looks to the parents for guidance on how to respond to the new baby. Through witnessing the parents respond with love, compassion, and self-service, the older sibling is being taught these very beautiful values and virtues that will help him grow and unconditionally love the most vulnerable.
2. Having siblings helps teach responsibility.
As the kids grow up together, they will form a bond—a feeling of responsibility for one another. They will take into consideration the other one’s feelings and safety and not just their own. No, this doesn’t happen 100% of the time from day one. It develops over time. As they grow, so does their bond. Their experiences together will help that bond become stronger and stronger.
3. They will have a companion (or two or more) as they go through life.
Life is tough. Knowing you have someone that has your back, even if you don’t like each other all of the time, is a great comfort and one of the many benefits of having more than one child. Friends come and go, but family is forever. As children become adults, there will be even more instances when having siblings will come in handy. Being able to bounce ideas off of one another, seek advice in challenging life situations, and share the joys of life is an amazing thing.
4. They have an extra person to comfort them.
From bruised knees to the death of a goldfish, siblings comfort each other when the parent isn’t right by their side to do so. When there’s illness or death of a loved one, even if siblings don’t always get along, they comfort each other when hard times hit. You could argue that their spouse takes on that role, but not all children grow up to get married. Even so, a spouse usually wasn’t there through childhood, and they don’t know you as your siblings would.
5. They entertain each other.
In the summer of 2013, Angela shared on Facebook that she was making sundried tomatoes, fresh from the garden, and conquering a whole list of other things that day. She was asked, “How in the world do you do that with a baby, a toddler, and another kiddo?” Simply put, the kids entertained each other. The baby slept and stayed where he was set, but the other two played well together, giving Angela the time to do a project that made her happy.
6. Conquering fears together is easier.
Having another little person to face your fears with is one of the best benefits of having more than one child. Having your best buddy around to encourage you makes potty training, eating new foods, the dark, and so many other things less scary. Kids help each other conquer some little fears, gain confidence and build trust with each other. That’s not to say they won’t get each other in trouble while conquering some fears, but chasing down monsters is much more fun as a duo than hiding from them all by yourself.
7. Kids learn to handle emotions from interacting with siblings.
It’s a nice way to say that kids will fight together, but from it, they can learn to regulate their emotions in a safe, home environment. Nothing was more embarrassing than when our oldest was two years old, pushing the other toddlers, taking what he wanted, and throwing a fit when he didn’t get his way.
Having a sibling won’t rid you of these problems altogether. However, it gives your children the chance to experience these emotions at home, live through their consequences, and really feel their impact when seeing the effects of their actions on someone they love and care about.
8. They help each other be healthier.
Growing a sibling bond has both mental and physical benefits. The whole spectrum between loving and caring for a sibling to fighting and arguing with a sibling helps each sibling grow mentally and emotionally stronger in ways that parents just don’t. The article Why Your Sibling is Good for Your Health (According to Science) explains further health benefits such as; having a sibling can help increase one’s life span by 7.5 years and help foster healthy habits due to one’s desire to live longer for loved ones.
9. You have an extra set of hands.
Have you ever been in the middle of a diaper change and needed more wipes, a new diaper, or couldn’t find the butt cream? Call for the aid of your firstborn, and you’ll be saved! Children 18 months and older can follow a simple instruction, which saves you from having to leave the baby on the changing pad unsupervised while you hunt for what you need.
10. You get a built-in babysitter.
Need I say more? Among the benefits of having more than one child is having a built-in babysitter. Babysitters these days can cost $5-$15 or more per hour. If I’m having a date night with my beautiful bride, I want to spend my money on our date and not on paying someone to watch our kiddos. Obviously, though, your child has to be ready for that kind of responsibility. When our children were little, we rarely went out on dates for this reason. A lot of our dates were in-house or when the grandparents came to visit.
Now that our oldest is of babysitting age, we’ve been testing the waters a little more! If you need a little help deciding if your child is ready to take on babysitting responsibilities, check out Questions to Consider Before Leaving Your Child Home Alone.
The benefits of having more than one child are one big piece to the puzzle of life.
Having a sibling can have amazingly positive effects on each of your children. That’s not to say that there aren’t sibling relationships that are unhealthy. How we raise our children plays a big role in how they treat each other and their peers. Ultimately, having a sibling is one big piece to the puzzle of their lives. We believe that having one or more siblings is right for our children. The benefits of having more than one child are something we want for our children.
Sibling relationships influence children’s adjustment and development about as much as parenting does.—Mark Feinberg
Of course, this isn’t to say that loving and nurturing families with only one child (though I believe they will miss out on the benefits of having more than one child has to offer) will raise a child who is a fully functioning adult—which is definitely a goal of ours for all of our children as well. We love all of these benefits, and even though our kids can get on each other’s nerves sometimes, the benefits outweigh the short-term annoyances.
If you’ve read through all of this and still feel that one child is perfect for your family, then power to you as well! Let us know in the comments below what some of your favorite memories are of having (or not having) a sibling!