Some of us like the fact that one child is the focus of our attention, financial and other resources as well as our time as a parent. Others enjoy the fact that they have a home full of kids along with the noise and the mess and madness that they entail.
Reasons why families are small today
There are many reasons why 20% of the population consists of one child families. In larger urban centers, as many as 30% family units have just one child. The reasons for this are many: demanding professional lives and careers mean that people are choosing to have children later in life and even then, child care is a factor for working parents.
If you have a child when you are already 35 for instance, that will not leave you with much time to have a second or a third baby.
The divorce rate being as high as 50% is another factor that tends to limit family sizes.
Benefits of small families
There is certainly a lot to recommend having only one child. For one, kids are expensive – from the diapers that you have to buy when they are born, to their school fees, to their clothes to their college tuition, they cost a lot.
Then there is housing – a bigger family means that you need a larger home, are the family economics going to support this?
So one of the practical considerations about having more than one kid is the economic one – if you plan to have more kids, do you have the resources to support the children? And isn’t it true that if you had just the one child it may be possible for that single child to have the best of everything?
Benefits of larger families
Having siblings gives kids the opportunity to learn valuable interpersonal and conflict resolution skills. Optimization of resources, or in lay terms ‘sharing’, is something else that kids learn when they have a sibling or two. These are skills that they find valuable not only at school but later in life, when dealing with colleagues, spouses, and so on.
In larger families if there is more work, then there are also more hands to do that work, at least once the children are at a responsible age.
There are many obvious benefits of having one child, for the parent as well as the child; equally there are many benefits of having two or more children. So really there is no right answer to the question about the ideal number of children to have. The ideal number is whatever the parents themselves can agree on.