Should You Have a Second Child?


There are a lot of advantages of having one child. An obvious one is financial; raising children is expensive. In my book, But Nobody Told Me I’d Ever Have to Leave Home, I note that because parents spend a great deal of time speaking to an only child, she’s likely to be articulate and may relate more easily to adults.

But today, we are going to talk about siblings. If you have one child, what are the considerations if you are planning on having a second?

It’s important to make a reasoned decision, determine what is best for you and your family and whatever you decide will be right for you.

What is your experience? Add your comment to this post, I’d love to hear from you.

At the end of this article, take a look at my travel plans, they may fit with your needs.

Is One Enough For You?

It was a beautiful day in May of 1954.  I was walking home from school when a car stopped and the driver asked if I wanted a ride.  I said yes. The driver was my father and the passenger my mother.  But what riveted my attention was the infant in the arms of my mother.  (This was long before the days of seat belts and infant car seats).

It was my little sister.  I have never forgotten my first look at her.  I was anxious to get home so I could hold her.  I fell in love with her instantly.  I was eight years old at the time and this baby was the fourth child to come into our family.  But she was the first one I remember from infancy.

Today many families are choosing to have only one child because of economics, time and energy and the later age of mother’s first pregnancy.  But some parents are wondering. “Should I have a second child?”  They can find books and articles on having an only child but find it difficult to find something addressing the question of having more than one. What are the possible implications of deciding to have two, three or even more children?

Group Activities

You can organize group activities without having to extend an invitation to other children.  An only child needs to invite a friend in order to participate in any activity calling for more than one child; kids with siblings have companionship right there in the same house,

In our home amateur theatrical productions were the order of the day.  We still giggle about our Christmas concerts.  As the oldest, I was, of course the producer, director and usually got the starring role (after a rigorous audition during which I, in my role as director, made the only possible choice: Kathy as the star).  There were times when we expanded our cast to include our friends, but without having practiced the art of home-based theatre it wouldn’t have happened.

Length of Relationship

Our siblings know us through our successes and failures, through puberty and menopause, through our careers, retirement and grandparenthood.  The longest relationships we will have are those with our siblings.  And as we age, the depth and importance of our sibling relationships increase.  A study has shown that in middle age 68% of adults say they feel extremely close to their siblings and by the time they are seniors the percentage increases to 83%.


Growing up with siblings can teach your child to share, to compromise, to respect differences and to problem-solve.

The Issue of Fighting

Okay, this sharing stuff doesn’t always come easy.  So, what about the bickering, quarrelling and squabbling?  The supreme irony is that sibling conflict often takes place with such abandon simply because of family security.  Siblings can interact with little inhibition.  It’s tough on parents but it gives kids a chance to test the limits of anger, jealousy, love and humour with safe peers — their brothers and sisters.  Without the chance to test their relationships it is often more difficult for kids to learn about the give-and-take involved in friendships.

What About Time?

Children thrive on one-on-one time with their parents but for most parents, time is at a premium and splitting it among two or three kids can seem overwhelming.  What we have forgotten is that kids aren’t looking for super-special time.  They just like to be with us, so if we get one child to help fold the laundry and the other to work with us as we prepare dinner the problem is solved.

And, kids with siblings can not only rely on us for family companionship and confidant, they can also lean on each other.

How Many is Best?

How many do you want?  What feels right for you?  One child is the perfect number for many families and if that works for you, it’s exactly right.  If you want two or three or more, it’s your choice.

I have two children and my husband and I wanted two children.  So we’re lucky, it worked perfectly for us.

How Can I Find Kathy?

 Do you want to arrange a parenting event and save money on the travel expenses? It’s simple. I will let you know my travel plans and you can take advantage of the fact that I will be in your town and keen to work with you and the parents or professionals in your life.I am going to be in Ottawa in early May and in Calgary in early June and in Red Deer in July and can easily adapt my schedule to fit your needs.

I will also be traveling along the Pacific Northwest in Washington and Oregon in June.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Bringing Parenting Today to your event.

Parenting Today is keen to speak as part of your professional development event, parenting workshop or workplace wellness support program. I offer keynotes and workshops, have written books and have ongoing newspaper columns, books, blogs and newsletters. And, no matter what the actual topic, they all share a basic value that I call:

P.U.R.E. Parenting.

P — is a parenting plan

U — is unconditional love

R — is respect for your child as he is right now

E — is encouragement

These make up the framework of any resources that will come from Parenting Today. These four pillars are the essential ingredients for raising healthy children who will develop into capable young men and women.




Posted in Family Concerns, News | 1 Comment

One Response to Should You Have a Second Child?

  1. Lindsay Dell says:

    I grew up with a brother and I am so grateul for so many reasons. Vacations, for one. Family vacations without a sibling would be very different. It was also wonderful having a live-in comrade to talk about our parents together. If things got heavy at home, it was comforting having a teammate. I could list lots of reasons.
    As a teacher, I see the affects being an only child has on that child in a classroom. Only children are used to undivided attention from two adults, the majority of the time. They often have trouble dealing with these two very different environments: their home and the classroom. They expect to be answered right away, get the help they need right away and sometimes are hurt or angry when that doesn’t happen. It is confusing for them.
    I also see a huge difference in how they interact with other students, younger, older and the same age. Students with siblings have practice, they get lots of time to interact, learn to socialize and to enjoy this interaction.
    I am a firm believer in having more than one child–seeing the benefits as endless. A friend of mine is over 30 and still laments being an only child. She was always very envious of the games and jokes my brother and I enjoyed. She had the undivided attention of both her parents but that was sometimes a curse, not just a blessing.
    That all being said, I also think there are ways to meet these needs without having siblings. Whether by choice or not, if you have one child, you can do all sorts of things to make up for that lack of sibling. Play dates, organized activities and the next best thing: cousins.
    I think having a sibling is one of the greatest things for a child. If your kid doesn’t, then as a parent, you need to acknowledge that and make up for it the best way you can. Help them learn those sibling lessons.

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