In the first segment on this discussion on why someone might make the countercultural decision to have more than two children, I said that most people wouldn’t deliberately limit themselves to two friends, but most Americans nowadays deliberately limit themselves to two children.
They often make this decision in isolation of the children themselves, deciding it while dating or when newly married, and then stick to it regardless of what the children seem to need.
I would assert that children need to interact with other children, and the lessons they learn within a healthy family are the best interaction possible. That includes parents, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles…and other siblings.
Children in a family of two get used to splitting things right down the middle. Children in a family with more learn life isn’t always a fifty-fifty split. They learn to negotiate. They learn to accept the short end of the stick sometimes in pursuit of family harmony (and in a family of more-than-two, it’s not as likely that one child will always receive the shorter end.)
Fights aren’t always right-and-wrong, black-and-white. In a three-child-household, there are three opinions rather than two during every squabble, so it’s harder to develop a mentality of “my enemy is always dead wrong.” Sometimes, your opponents are partially in agreement with you. Sometimes, one sides with you even though before the other two sided together.
With more siblings, there are more opportunities to learn to share, to pitch in, to help, to wait your turn, and to work together.
Two kids are pareners; three kids are a team. Two kids can keep tabs on one another; three kids need to learn to trust, and learn what happens when trust is broken. Two kids barter; three kids compromise. Two kids can each demand the full attention of one parent; three kids learn self-sufficiency and when to ask for help and when to demand it. Two kids take turns; three kids expand their game to accommodate all three simultaneously.
Two kids aren’t ruined for life by virtue of being two kids, of course (I was one of two kids for 14 years!) but three kids have more tools in their starting toolbox.
Pope JohnPaulII said one of the best gifts a family can give its children is the gift of a sibling, and I think the above is the reason why.
There’s more to say, but I think for now I may give this series a break. 🙂