I Think Having more Children has Made me a Better Parent

A better parent than I would have been with just one that is, not a better parent than you (no matter how many children you have!)

I get anxious.

I get riled up I get angry, I guess we all do and I guess we all are our own harshest critics but knowing yourself is a great strength don’t you think? I know that I am a better mum than I would have been if I had stopped having children after our first son was born.

I don’t think this is a magic formula (go forth and multiply and be a better parent the more you have!) I think it would be ridiculous to suggest that this (or any formula) is a universal truth for every family but I know that I am less wound up and less anxious about my children since having our 3rd baby. (I also acknowledge the privilege I have in being able to have children easily- I know this is not an option for everyone.) The older boys help of course, they help practically and having raised them without too much disaster (only one trip to ER which was a once off case of hives would you believe!)Seeing the siblings interact so beautifully and care for each other and play crazy imagination games together can give me the boost I need, the appreciation for how beautiful parenting can be at times when I have just been focused on them not putting the dishes away or the toddle treading mud into the carpet.

Having more children has given me an increasing appreciation for the wonder that is a child. Aren’t they just amazing? I do see many parents of only children have this too but I also see some slipping down the rabbit hole of worry and obsessing about tiny things that will pass, food refusal, toilet training, not making friends easily, drinking too many bottles of milk, bedtime routines. I have gained perspective as I have gained children, that these things generally change of their own accord, that they aren’t anything to worry about and the battles that ensue from trying to change them before the child naturally drifts away from a worrying behaviour, the battles are the worst bit of it all.
Having more to look after has forced us to simplify things.
We all read a story together and the children go to bed at the same time now (as Miss 2.5 has a nap in the day).
I make dinners I think have foods that everyone will eat some of but if you don’t want it, that is fine. No need to force feed. You can eat at the next meal or you will eat when you are genuinely hungry. Children’s appetites vary so much day to day.

The children have learned to help out in small ways, they enjoy it, putting clothes away, stacking or unstacking the dishwasher, the boys get their own breakfasts and some for their little sister (and vacuum the mess up afterwards). Feeding the chickens, emptying the compost bucket. They enjoy being an active part of the family. (We still have some battles of wills with tidying rooms but we are getting there.)

Being a parent of a few has also given us pretty realistic expectations of living with small, loud, messy people.
Those of you who have only children and don’t find the worry and obsessions creeping in I salute you, my natural tendency towards anxiety and some PND probably amplified it for me but I can say that having more children has made me a better parent than I otherwise would have been.
I wonder if we will ever stop having them?

6 comments

  1. kppt13 says:

    I can only reply from my perspective, which is that of a mother to one (not through choice in any way, but through trauma). I do not believe I could have been a better or more enriched parent with more children and have only come to this conclusion gradually over the past 6 years – I have battled to get there in fact. My one child is everything to us and has rarely created any drama for us. He is a very easy child and a complete joy. However much I wished for more children, and have written about profusely in my own blog, I also feel he has been the best child for us as parents. It is as though fate knew, and chose, this situation. My only real wish would have been to see him interacting with and nurturing younger siblings, and they looking up to and engaging with him – and I am sorry for him that he doesn’t have this opportunity. Having other siblings would fill those empty hours where he has to play alone so very often – which he does amazingly – but I do wish he had others to share his imagination with at home. But as an only child and only-child parents, life works very well now and I would hate to think that our situation prohibited me from being the best parent I can be. I suppose you can only be the best parent that your individual situation allows you to be, and that is all you know – and perhaps having more leads many parents to a more relaxed attitude (some to a more stressed attitude too I am sure!) but we are very settled in our roles and it works for us. Thanks for the post, it made me think 🙂

    • Jessie says:

      I am glad I made you think, how wonderful for you to have an easy child!My children are not easy children, they are “spirited” and “wilful” and my eldest particularly challenging at times. I think if I had only my eldest I would be hurt by his outbursts and fretful about him. I was an only child but I lived in books and imagination and I don’t know that it worried me that much at the time.

  2. mummywifeme says:

    They sure are amazing little creatures. I definitely think I’m less anxious with my second child. I do often wonder what I’d be like if we had a third. I’m not planning on finding out anytime soon though 🙂

    • Jessie says:

      I am glad you are less anxious with your second, I had bad PND and didn’t think I would want more but #3 came a long as a surprise and now i want heaps of kids! It is funny how things turn out!

  3. Maxabella says:

    I’m not sure what kind of mother I might have been with just Max on board. I do know that he very nearly was an only child, such was the amount of work involved in soothing his newborn feistiness. Then along came Arabella, who was so calm and wise that we went on to have Lottie. Then we felt done. They bicker like mad people and that sends me crazy, but I have always thought that seeing my children be together is the greatest joy in my life, so there is that… x

    • Jessie says:

      Those feelings sound familiar! Except feeling done. Maybe one day I will feel it but not yet (which is lucky I suppose- being as how there is another on the way!).

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