There seems to be an explosion of three-child families in the neighbourhood where I live. Parents and caregivers crowd the sidewalks with their double strollers, pushed with one hand and a school-aged child attached to the other. It got me wondering if the saying, “three is the new two” has any truth to it.
Just Google, “three child families” or “thinking about having a third”, and the results are overwhelming. However, according to both an article in USA Today and Today’s Parent, the trend of three children families is not new but perhaps just more prevalent in certain areas. Overall, the birth rate hasn’t exactly reflected a staggering jump in family sizes like in the 1950’s where four-child families were the norm.
Nonetheless, at least anecdotally for me, there seems to be truth to the saying. The number of families that I know with more than two children is well into the double digits and just this past month I have joyfully heard of more families swelling to five.
Having three children is a challenge on many fronts and a blessing on many more. When I was expecting our third, several well-meaning veterans who head up larger families were abundant with their advice and suggestions. Two recurring warnings continue to echo in my ears:
- It’s a lot harder to divide your time into three than two. Make sure your children get lots of alone time with you.
- Sibling rivalry is fierce when there are more than two children. Each is desperate to carve out a niche for them.
While I do make an effort to spend alone time with each of my boys (thanks to a generous and supportive extended family), I know all to well that sibling rivalry is alive and flourishing in this house.
I have turned to a book, which was gifted to me by a mom of three, to help me out. You’re All My Favourites, by Sam McBratney and illustrated by Anita Jeram (the famed duo behind Guess How Much I Love You).
This fifteen-page story is about three little bears questioning their place in the family. One little bear is anxious that his parents don’t love him as much because he has no patches (like his siblings), the other little bear thinks that her parents don’t love her as much because she is the only girl and naturally, the youngest feels that his parents don’t love him as much because he is the smallest in the family.
The bears are reassured by their mom and dad that they are all their favourites and that each one of them contributes something special to the formation of their family.
Like many kids books (ahem, Robert Munsch’s Love You Forever and Audrey Penn’s The Kissing Hand), I shed a tear or a two over this story.
It’s a beautiful addition to any children’s library and a thoughtful gift for the family that just had their third baby (and really, what baby stuff do they need?).