Siblings and Family Planning: Part One

After having our two beautiful babies, my husband and I have been starting to talk about the possibility for more children.  There are so many factors to consider when deciding how many children to have, but the most important to me is, the quality of life for my children and my family. Being an only child for most of my life (I have two half brothers that are 10 and 14 years younger than me, that live in another state), I don’t really know what it feels like to grow up with siblings. Growing up as only child was actually nice most of the time, but I knew I wanted more than one baby, but I had a lot of questions, as to how adults felt about their childhood, after growing up with siblings.

I asked about 20 people, from ages 20s-60s questions about their childhood, and here is what I learned:

Everyone I asked said they overall liked having siblings! It appears that everyone thought they had the right amount of siblings, whether they had one or five siblings. Only one person wished for another sibling of the opposite gender.  This is really encouraging to me, as it seems that everyone had a “perfect” family.  Most people enjoyed playing with their siblings. Some stated they had different interests then than their siblings, or say they were closer to one sibling then another, but “when they were together” it seems everyone enjoyed having brothers and sisters.  This showed me the importance of doing things as a family often, so my kids can spend quality time together. Everyone I asked said they feel at least somewhat close to their siblings still, as adults. I think the biggest factor, is similar lifestyles and taking time to spend together.

Jason and I have been watching the show Parenthood, a show about 4 siblings raising their families. They often have a family dinner at their parent’s house, and it seems like such a great way to keep families close. We talked about how great it would be to have a weekly dinner with our kids. Maybe call it “Family Night”. This could be fun when they are kids to spend family night watching movies, or going bowling or playing games at home, and as they grow continue to have Family Night once a week, even when they are adults. What a great way to spend time with your children, in laws and grandchildren every week! The kids would have to agree, once they are adults though…

Another portion of the questionnaire I sent out, was about how having siblings affected relationships with parents. I was wondering if the children got to spend enough time with their parents and got enough attention from them. The most common answer was yes- although there were a few answers that showed they did not spend enough time with their parents, because they were busy with other siblings. This was a big eye opener for me, as I will need to learn to give appropriate attention to each of my children, together and individually. I also had someone tell me, that one or more of their siblings seemed to “get away with a lot”. So I will need to learn to be fair- although obviously this is a difficult thing to always do! Overall, it was my understanding that even though some kids got more attention then others- it didn’t seem to affect the amount of love they felt from their parents.

Finally I asked, if they had less siblings, if they would have had more or better opportunities while growing up. Surprisingly, almost everyone seemed to think they would have lived the same lifestyle. I did however learn that some felt like finances played the biggest role and there was not always money for all of the siblings in a family to have new clothes or be a part of extracurricular activates or even go to college. Some even mentioned that they probably would have been able go on more trips or go out to eat more often. But overwhelmingly, it appears that they would have chosen their siblings over “better” opportunities.

So, what does all of this mean for me and our family situation? I am not sure yet. We are constantly talking about our family planning. It seems that most people I have talked to struggled more with deciding  when to stop having babies then when they decided to start. We are currently making pro con lists, trying to decide if our 2 sweet babies is enough, or if we need one (or even two) more. As a part of this questionnaire I also asked people who had more than one child what helped them in deciding when their family was complete. I will post a follow up, in regards to our decision making process, but for now we are still in the process. Thank you to everyone who sheared their stories. I would love anymore information anyone would like to contribute.