This morning, we’re continuing the “reasons to have three children” series. To clarify: I’m not writing this for people who have already decided to have zero, one or two children. (Nor, really, those who have decided to have nine children.) These entries are a response to the sheer number of search queries I get on “reasons to have three children” and “why have three children.” In other words, I’m writing for the families looking for a reason to take the plunge.
The most common comment I get is that I “must be so busy” or “have my hands full” and that it must be unimaginably hard to have three kids. Which is, patently, insane.
A parenting forum I read every day had a poll recently asking which was the hardest jump, and most respondents indicated it was most difficult to go from zero to one kid, or from one kid to two kids. A further poll indicated that it was evenly divided between zero to one and one to two being most difficult.
My opinion (which you get in spades on this weblog) is that most people who have not had three kids assume it’s just as difficult to go from two to three as it was from one to two. And that, if you were to go from seven children to eight, that the eight child would be as hard an adjustment as the first or second.
Here’s a secret: it’s not incrementally more difficult every time. The huge hurdles are getting used to a baby in the house at all, and getting used to managing the needs of two children.
Once you throw in that third child, you’re used to having one baby around. You’re used to managing the needs of more than one child. And a magical thing happens with the third: you’re relaxed. You’re about as tired as you’re going to get. You’re used to thinking for three people already (yourself plus two kids) and the oldest child is already beginning to act independently. That jump to three kids? Isn’t that difficult.
I’ve heard that the family dynamics change again when a family reaches five children. It’s been suggested that’s because then the children outnumber the parental hands. But regardless, even there, the addition of a fifth child doesn’t cause the same familial cataclysm as the addition of the first or second.
Keep in mind I’m deliberately not discussing situations with twins or triplets, but only the addition of singletons to a family. And I’m also assuming (interesting assumption) that the children won’t have severaly debilitating needs which cause the entire household to be rearranged around them. I have seen the latter situation, by the way, and the family still seemed to make the adjustment pretty easily, widening and absorbing the new member and the new member’s needs as natural.
Come back tomorrow and we’ll keep going.