How Many Kids? Conflicting Happiness Arguments
How many kids to have? That’s not a small or inconsequential question for those who are blessed to be able to make that decision. Two voices in the news this week offer conflicting advice to those of us wondering what the right balance is when it comes to the size of our brood.
The first, a study commissioned by the website Bounty.com, found that of all possible combinations of number and gender of kids, having two daughters makes for the most happy and peaceful family life. According to the Telegraph newspaper:
The results show of all the variations, two girls make for the most harmonious family life as they are unlikely to fight, will play nicely and are generally a pleasure to be around.
It also emerged two girls rarely annoy their parents, make limited noise, often confide in their parents and are unlikely to wind each other up or ignore each other.
By contrast, doubling the number of daughters is likely to lead to a whole world of pain, the report found.
As the father of the two most awesome girls on earth (pictured above) and the husband of a woman who is one of four daughters, I am particularly intrigued by these findings. My younger daughter, being an infant, is too young to prove or disprove the theory–there’s no fighting…yet.
What does this mean for any future deliberations on whether to have more kids? Not sure it would impact my thinking, especially after reading about a newly published book, “Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids,” by Bryan Caplan, an economist.
According to press information and an excerpt posted on the book’s website, Caplan posits that we parents complain more than our due about the burdens of parenthood and under-estimate the joys. His solution is in the book’s title–procreate more!–but he qualifies that by emphasizing that “more” is not one-size-fits-all. He’s not advocating that everyone have huge families, only that we parents (or childless couples) should consider the arguments for having somewhat more kids than we may otherwise have had. From the excerpt:
There are many selfish reasons to have more kids, but there are four big reasons to put on the table right away:
First, parents can sharply improve their lives without hurting their kids. Nature, not nurture, explains most family resemblance, so parents can safely cut themselves a lot of additional slack.
Second, parents are much more worried than they ought to be. Despite the horror stories in the media, kids today are much safer today than they were in the “idyllic” 1950s.
Third, many of the benefits of children come later in life. Kids have high start-up costs, but wise parents weigh their initial sleep deprivation against a lifetime of rewards – including future grandchildren.
Last, self-interest and altruism point in the same direction. Parents who have another child make the world a better place, so you can walk the path of enlightened selfishness with a clear conscience.
What do you think? How many kids is the right number? Are you persuaded by either of these arguments?Add a Comment