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Parents Are Having Smaller Families, & It Leaves Some Kids Disappointed

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My daughter has been in a rut for years. One of her issues: the family on the reality show Kate Plus Eight (you know, the one that used to be Jon & Kate Plus Eight) looks like it’s way more fun than her life. The reason, she says, is because they have so. many. kids. There’s enough for a small baseball game, more than enough for four square at any time, and plenty to team up against their parents.

And my poor, deprived daughter only has one sibling (an annoying one at that, according to her).

The average American family size is shrinking, and my daughter isn’t pleased one bit.

As of 2018, the average family was just 3.14 people, down from 3.7 in the 1960s, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In the 1970s, according to a 1976 Pew Research Center, the average mother gave birth to at least four children. Only 24 percent of families at that time had two kids.

And while today Angelina Jolie and Kim Kardashian have enough kids to fill several TOMY Toomies Hide & Squeak egg crates, the rest of us regular people are hitting the breaks.

In my house, with two kids, two cats, a dog and a husband, the sheer noise level is overwhelming to me. At any one time, there’s usually one person banging on a drum, one person crying, one pounding the piano, one person yelling, one complaining about the lack of food in the fridge and one person looking for a stray phone. The people doing those activities change from minute to minute.

Then, there are the expenses. Both my daughters are finally in public elementary school, but we are still paying hundreds of dollars per month for their piano lessons, gymnastics, food and everything else that comes with raising a little person.

I simply couldn’t imagine adding another tiny being to the mix.

Having it all is inversely related to the size of your family.

Adina Mahalli, a certified mental health expert and family care professional with Maple Holistics, says she totally understands the family size shift.

It’s a combo of the rising cost of parenthood, the rate of student debt and the desire to start your career before building a family.

“At the same time, there is also less pressure for women to fall into the gender stereotype of bearing children with a much bigger emphasis and focus on career advancement,” Mahalli says.

I wanted two things in my life ever since I could remember: to be a writer and to be a mother. The two would fit together well (I’ve always been very practical), since I could work around my children's’ schedules.

The problem: My work takes up more time than I had envisioned. So even though I make my own schedule, I’m always stressed about getting all of my work done. And while I can take an hour or two off to volunteer at my daughters’ school, I can’t do it as often as I’d like, because work.

I quickly learned that having it all is doable, depending on the number of children you have. Translation: having it all is inversely related to the size of your family. With each child, I’d able to do less. So I have to decide. Do I want a larger family or do I want a larger career? Do I want my children to have more siblings or do I want my house to be relatively quiet (or realistically, not any louder than it already is)?

I choose two. My daughter will have to continue living vicariously via reality television.