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Are two kids harder than one? Does it cost more money to have two kids? Will two take more of your free time than one? I’m about to have my first child, and down the road I don’t know whether I’ll be ready for the second. Most people say two are better than one, but I’d like to know if it’s all worth it.
First, realize that the answer to this question is different for every person. Some parents of three children wish they had four or five. Others are quite satisfied with one. As of yet, you haven’t had your first child. It’s way too early for you to think about the wisdom of having a second child.
On your first try at using a stove, did you attempt to bake a soufflé? When you first drove a car, did you try out a steep, winding mountain road in a blinding snowstorm? The key here is baby steps.
As for whether you want more than one child, your experience with the first child will tell you most of what you need to know. Some children want siblings, while a few would be happier by themselves. And truly, you won’t know your own preference until you’ve tried parenting out for awhile.
Specifically, two are more expensive than one, because you’ll pay two sets of school fees and buy more food and perhaps have to buy a clarinet for one child and football pads for another. But for the most part, the incremental cost of a second child isn’t exceptionally high. The time you’ll need to spend with each child varies. Some children require a lot more supervision and education than others. In some families with multiple children, the parents spend the bulk of their time dealing with one child.
As the father of two, I’ll say I prefer having two, mostly because both of my sons benefit from having a brother. I won’t say it’s easier, but happiness isn’t just about making everything less difficult for yourself. In my family, two is better than one.
What is a good balance between work and play for children and teens? How much time should kids spend on school and homework compared to recreational activities? 60/40? 80/20?
The answer depends on factors beyond the control of parents.
Some children are good students and fast workers, and can do their homework in an hour or less. Some need to sit down for several hours to work out the problems. Don’t punish the former for being fast or the latter for being slow.
Another potential determinant of the time balance is the nature of the school and the teachers. Some schools give more homework than others. And within any given school, some teachers give more than others. Children need to learn to deal with such vagaries. Some semesters they’ll have more homework than others, and that’s OK.
There is no formula for dividing time that will work for everyone. Your job is to make sure your children do their homework. That may mean checking it to ensure that all of the work is done, and done with an acceptable level of quality. After that, trust your knowledge of your own children.
Some will do just fine spending 10% of their time on homework and 90% goofing off. Some will need to put in more hours on their work. Forget about the formula, and instead look at the children. Make sure they do all the work, but do allow them some down time. We all need to rest our bodies and our minds.
Thank you for reading today’s Q&A. Check back here tomorrow for another installment of the Ask The Dad advice column. If you’d like to submit an Ask The Dad question, send it to [email protected] If you liked today’s column, click on the Subscribe link at the top of the page to receive e-mail whenever a new column is posted. Don’t worry, it’s free.