Do we need a second child?

I always knew I wanted children. Or to be more precise, I knew I wanted a child. I never thought much further than that. But now that our first baby is well on his way to toddlerhood, we have started wondering about having more kids.

Thinking about having a second child is a little like thinking about getting another car. You wonder if you can afford it, if you'll be able to look after it as well as the first one. You wonder how it will affect your life. And you wonder - dare you even say it out loud - if you really need another child.

Maybe, like ours, your baby is beautiful and perfect and you think your family is wonderful just the way it is. Maybe, like me, you've barely figured out how not to drown him during bath time, or to drop him while changing him.

You wonder if you really want to taunt the gods by having another go at parenting. You ask yourself, shouldn’t I just focus on trying to raise one child as well as possible – giving him the benefit of all my attention, finances and other resources?

Research shows that a lot of parents are having these kinds of thoughts. All over the world, more and more families have only one child. Although single children were traditionally thought to be spoilt and socially disadvantaged, research now in fact, points to the opposite being true.

Psychologist Susan Newman, author of the book Parenting an Only Child, told abcnews that some studies show that only children have closer relationships with their parents than children from bigger families. They also tended to have higher IQs.

A university researcher found that ‘a century’s worth of research revealed that only children are remarkably similar to children with siblings. In fact, they have a slight advantage in certain areas,’ according to an article on suite101.

But here is the thing: I grew up with a sibling – in my case, an annoying and irritatingly doting younger sister. And although I didn't know it at the time, she made growing up a lot more fun. I always had a buddy on boring family outings, a friend to have midnight feasts with and an ally against my parents.

A sibling is valuable not only during childhood, but also when you are an adult and in need of a patient ear when bitching about your parents. Don't underestimate the value of having someone around who knows exactly where you came from, is able to keep all your secrets and support you no matter what.

I would love my little boy to have a brother or sister to play with in the garden. I want to listen to their laughter, to hear them giggling in their beds at night, to watch as they roll their eyes at their daft and stupid parents. 

My favourite quote is from Susan Jeffers on ‘It's normal to wonder if you're making the right choices and decisions, no matter how many kids you have. Even if you decided to have two or more children, you'd wonder if your life would have been easier with only one child.’  

So the question isn't really whether we need another child, but if we want another. There is no  right or wrong answer to this question - in the end, it is about what is right for us and our family. 
What should be considered when deciding on whether to have a second child? Are only children at an advantage?

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.

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