Friday, January 29, 2016

No one is paying attention to you

This time it happened before breakfast.

My son woke up and started asking questions about how babies fit in the womb. So, of course, we looked at cross-sectional drawings of pregnant women and discussed how a baby was born.

Then he got dressed for school.

On the way to school, he (oh-so-helpfully) reminded me that he didn't want me to get pregnant again.

I know why he said that: My son has no siblings, but he still competes for my attention. If I am talking with my husband or a friend, he gets a little louder and a little clingy. It's instinctual for him to want undivided attention. And because I know that, it is hard to me to imagine what life would be like with two children competing for my attention.

It is exactly that need which all children have - the desire for their parent's attention - that drove this paper describing the effects of larger families on children. In a nutshell: Smaller families are better for children. In a smaller family, children aren't competing with as many people for their parent's attention. And the more attention they get, the less likely children are to have lower math and science scores (for girls) and behavioral problems (for boys).

It comes down to a quantity/quality trade off: The more children, the less time parents have to spend with each of them.

My son doesn't need a study to tell him this. He has long held the belief that he doesn't want a brother or a sister because he doesn't want to share us.

At least he is honest.

If money wasn't a concern, would you prefer a big family or a small family? Tell me in the comments.

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