While whatever choices — or circumstances — ultimately determine your family size, it helps to have a wellspring of research, articles and advice at your fingertips as you navigate possible options.
Whether you’re exploring the right age to have a first child or wondering if you should add another child to your family, the selected articles can lead you to paths you might have not considered otherwise.
In this section, you’ll find everything from what some suggest is the ideal age to have a baby, how children affect a mother’s income, the science behind sibling relationships to concerns about your child’s development without siblings.
Facts to get you started:
- Across several studies, mothers of one appear to be happiest.
- Research shows that only children have an edge in key development areas.
- While once stigmatized, “older” first-time moms (and their children) reap benefits women who first give birth in their 20s are less likely to see.
- Single parenthood has not only become more common, but accepted — there are myriad reasons why single mothers and fathers provide the same amount of love, attention and resources as their coupled counterparts.
- Siblings and birth order do not impact development, personality, social skills, or academic success as dramatically as most people think (or try to tell you). How you parent is the key — not sibling status.
Deciding when in life to have a baby is a very personal decision. And for more women these days, it appears to be a case of NEVER SAY NEVER. CBS Sunday Morning’s cover story is reported by Serena Altschul: When Ayala Donchin launched her baking business, she was hungry for success. She was working, she said, “Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, nonstop. And it paid off: In just four years, she says Evelyn’s Kitchen grew to be a seven-figure business. Then in her early 40s, Donchin wanted to expand again — in a different way.”
Some only child stereotypes date back centuries, while others arose relatively recently. New or old, the stigmas and perceptions of singletons hold strong. How much do you really know about only children? Test your only child knowledge.
You may begin to wonder if a sibling will resolve your son or daughter’s issues as well as provide him or her companionship later in life. There are benefits to siblings, but rarely can they be counted on as a cure-all for behavioral or emotional difficulties or your child’s success in life.
Women delay marriage to seek more education or establish themselves in jobs and careers. The economic downturn of the last decade has also compelled would-be parents to wait until they have the resources necessary for childrearing.
Dr. Newman talks to Good Morning America about factors influencing family size.
Forget the labels you assign to yourself or your children based on your or their position in a sibling hierarchy. Personality traits we have long applied to firstborn, middle or youngest children have been challenged and the previous evidence found questionable, if not just incorrect.
Not too long ago I explained why people still “feel sorry” for only children. Negative thoughts and myths about them have swirled for centuries. And in spite of a steady spike in the only-child population in the U.S. and most developed countries, children without siblings are still singled out for intense scrutiny.
For a period of time, firstborns are only children. Their education and achievement levels are noteworthy. In a new study, “Sibling Configurations, Educational Aspiration and Attainment,” Feifei Bu of Essex University found that “firstborn children (whether male or female) have higher aspirations and that these aspirations play a significant role in determining later levels of attainment.”
The Washington Post investigates the destigmatizing of the only child and why Americans are embracing the idea of small families.
On the Canadian Podcast “Citrus Love,” I answered questions that concern many when deciding whether to stop after one or grow their family to two or more children.
Is the US becoming a one-child nation? Or, is being practical about having babies going to be ignored?
Few would argue that a second or third child adds to parental time pressures and stress. With the arrival of a new baby, previous routines go out the window. Many parents think that as children get older, their lives will become more manageable, easier.
The headline of an article by Abby Ellin in The New York Times’ Retiring section reads: “Single, 54, and a New Dad.” At age 54, Sparky Campanella felt “he was missing out on something important in life” and chose to become a father.
A new study finds “older” mothers live longer—to 95+. But, what exactly is “older?” In terms of maternal longevity, the definition of “older” just got younger. Six years ago I reported on The New England Centenarian Study that found women who give birth after age 40 were four times more likely to live to 100 or longer than were women who gave birth at younger ages.
“She’s an older mother!” The obstetrician bellowed to the attending staff and everyone else in earshot as I was rolled in the operating room to deliver my son. “Do you have to announce that to the entire hospital?” I cringed. Even as more women wait until their mid-thirties and early forties to become parents, most physicians consider them to be of “advanced maternal age” and high risk simply because they’re older. In one way, the extra attention paid to each advanced maternal aged patient is reassuring.
It’s no secret that becoming a mother can significantly impact a woman’s career path. But, does the age at which women have a first child make a difference, for both short-term and lifelong wages? New research suggests it does, for both those with and without college degrees. Is there an age that’s better than others?
If you think you may be too old to have a baby, think again. For first-time mothers, 40 may just be the new 30. More women than ever before in their late thirties and well into their forties are starting families. The CBS Sunday Morning Show looked at the increase in older women having babies. They talked with Dr. Joanne Stone, director, Maternal Fetal Medicine, Mt. Sinai Hospital, New York City about what she sees in her practice and with me about why more and more women are having children “later.”
We are all familiar with women’s declining fertility as they age, but when women in their late 30s and early 40s take action to become mothers, I notice. Because I was an older mother when I had my child, I am fascinated with new technologies that may allow women to postpone pregnancy.
Responses from 201,988 parents in 86 countries support what other researchers have found: “happiness decreases with the number of children parents have,” but more specifically this global study finds that parents are less happy the younger they have their children. So, what is the best age to start your family?
In a post on Psychology Today, Seth Meyers presented a strong case for having two—or more—children. He states, “As the parent of two and a psychologist who has worked with children ages birth to 5 years, I understand the wish to have only one child. I see many parents who decided to have only one child, and they seem awfully peaceful.
Children are a wonderful gift, bringing joy, laughter, and love. But, then there are the toys, the sleepless nights, the constant barrage of “why?” questions and the plethora of sticky handprints.
Once upon a time, “starting a family” required that a woman wait for a worthy man to marry her before she had any children. Nowadays there isn’t a singular, accepted path to motherhood. Some women get married and have babies. Some move in with a partner and have them. Some adopt.
For mothers, having an only child is desirable from a wide range of viewpoints and practicalities, but that doesn’t make decisions about family size any easier. Going from one child to two (or two to three or more) is a dilemma single parents and couples wrestle with, sometimes for years.
In an Atlantic Magazine article, “The End of Men,” Hanna Rosin notes that more women have professional and managerial jobs than men following a forty-year trend of women’s changing roles inspired by the women’s movement.
“I was ahead of the curve and so were a lot of my friends,” a childless, Baby Boomer friend mused. We then counted how many people we knew without children-some who were sure they didn’t want children and some who did, but waited too long or acquiesced to their partners who vetoed the idea.
Conflicted about adding another child to your family? Deciding to have one child or several is monumental. It can cause all kinds of self-doubt, friction, worry and, frankly, stress. You and your partner may disagree on the number of children you want, making the decision all the more difficult.
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