I’m not a huge reader. I was a major bookworm when I was younger, but now I (over)value productivity. So the reading that I DO do tends to be self-help-y or how-to-y in nature. The type of reading that loops back to being more productive. I don’t know that I’d have ever found this particular book – “Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids” – on my own, but when a friend sent me the link, I was intrigued. Even if I’d just wanted to feel more relaxed about parenting the two I already have, I’d have been glad I read it.
You see, the decision to try to have a third child was a hard one for me. I love independence. I love kids that are old enough to express themselves clearly and forage for food and go to the bathroom by themselves. The youngest is now 4! She can do so much by herself! And I didn’t feel the need to give my husband a son. Probably primarily because he’s never expressed a need to have one. Given that our two girls now have so much self-directed play and learning time, I have time to create! I’ve launched a business and blogged and have about a bajillion plans for more fun things to do. Did I really want to (nearly) stop all of that by hitting the reset button? This isn’t a crafty post per se, but because the time commitment of a baby directly affects whether I’ll have time to do anything creative, and I know lots of our readers (and a lot of my in-real-life friends!) are in a similar place, it’s worth sharing.
The decision to have one kid was pretty obvious to me. I knew I wanted to be a mother. First kid had her challenges, with dairy protein issues and complete refusal to adopt any sort of schedule, but the decision to give that child a sibling also felt pretty clear-cut. But a third? Certainly they could be happy with just each other. And us. A family of four is pretty great. My husband and I both come from families of four. But… that question of whether we were done was killer. As a kid I was so so so (SO!) jealous of larger families. Particularly one that I knew that had 6 kids! 6 is way, way, waaaay out of the question for me. But a THIRD? I was torn. Kids are hard.
|This pretty accurately depicts how the first kid and I both felt a lot of the time for the first, um, year.|
A friend found Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent is Less Work and More Fun Than You Think (affiliate link). She’d unintentionally found it because she was on a more scholarly search for adoption studies and twin research, and that’s the aspect of this book that I loved. It’s full of research-based conclusions about parenting. I’ve read so many opinion-based parenting how-to books that I never ever want to read another. I’ve had enough subjectivity. I’m glad the internet and the world of publishing offer so many perspectives, but after years and years of it, I think I’m all set.
|Confession: I read this on my Kindle. So… no fancy DSLR photos of my dog-eared book with a cup of coffee.|
So, an example. Twin studies show that kids who are raised in entirely different places in different socio-economic environments by different parents turn out pretty similarly. IQ-wise, health-wise, life expectancy-wise. Whether I make dinner from scratch every night (or more than once a week, lately) seems way less important, yes? How many minutes of reading we do a day? Not a big deal. How much TV I let them watch when I’m not feeling up to the task of supervising other entertainment? They’ll be allllright. To summarize the book in very basic terms, it says: Have more kids. Relax. Chill out. All will be okay. For the most part, did I already know all of this? Yes, but reading it backed by evidence made me feel better. A lot better.
Other highlights of study results include: Parents have little influence on how religious children grow up to be. (Say what?!) A big influence on political labels, but little on political attitudes and behavior. Little effect on traditionalism and modernism. Moderate influence over daughter’s sex lives but little over sons. (Oy!) Little or no effect on teen pregnancy. Little or no effect on marriage, marital satisfaction or divorce. All HUGE issues that we stress over as parents! And the author doesn’t say that we should give up or disappear on any of these issues, but to just… relax and accept that not all of it is a direct result of our behavior and parenting.
|Hardly the only time I was concerned that kid #1 was going to eat kid #2.|
The only thing that would make the author MORE credible in my eyes would be the same info coming from a Mom as opposed to the Dad. Carrying the kids, at this point in my life, feels like a pretty big deal, and he can’t speak to that himself. But I’ll let it slide. I’m relaxing now, after all. And I’m able to see more clearly in this third round of pregnancy that the temporary inconvenience of childbearing is indeed worth the long-term benefit of having kids to enjoy. Even if some days they seem less than enjoyable. (Also, I haven’t gotten to the third trimester yet. Or the post-delivery sleep deprivation phase.)
So, if you’re on the fence about more kids, or even if you’re happy with the number you have and you want to make yourself feel better about the job you’re already doing, I’d say this is well worth a read. Obviously, I made the decision to proceed with kid #3 despite the challenges of the first two. And this book helped me feel more assured in that decision-making. And the decisions I’m making daily with all of ’em.
Have you read it? Or if you decide to– I’d love to hear what you think.