I have one child. That's it. Because I have one child, studies tell me that because he is the eldest (and the only), he will be very mature before his time, as he primarily interacts with my husband and myself. Recent research also indicates that if he were born female, he would have an even higher likelihood of success than he does now.
My son doesn't have other siblings to teach things to or to boss around (although he does enjoy bossing around the cat). With only one child, our family is under the average number of children per family in our country, although we are spot on for living in Taiwan. (Note to husband: I do not want to move to Taiwan.)
I often wonder, though, what my son's life would be like if he suddenly had a large number of siblings. My Mother has told me in the past that she wanted six children. (Which would have made her an excellent candidate for living in Burundi.)
I know about the challenges that all parents face (potty training, tempers, learning to negotiate), but I imagine there are additional factors at stake with larger families. Most parents are faced with time and money issues, but if our family was larger, I probably wouldn't have a paying job as I would be a full-time stay-at-home-mom. With more children in the household, I might also have less time for my son as it would be divided among other children. We would also probably own a van.
Then there are the less obvious challenges: A recent study from Australia suggests that children from big families do worse in school. I'm not sure if those results are replicated in other countries, but after reading the study, it seems that most of this is caused by teacher bias.
And that part I can understand. My brother and I are three years apart, and every time I entered a new classroom, the teacher/nun would let me know that she taught my older brother.
This was slightly annoying, as it meant that I had to make sure to differentiate myself from my brother. Maybe I was too competitive as a child, but I wanted to be more than "my brother's little sister."
Now that we are older, I don't feel the same pressure. My brother has his family and life and I have mine. We meet up for holidays at our Mother's house and watch our children play together. I am truly happy for the joys in their life and I try to celebrate our differences.
For now, my husband and I are happy with our single son. We want him to forge his own path - in school and in life.
For those of you with "larger" families - what unexpected challenges have you faced as you grow your family?