Two years ago our family was selected to participate in an NIH/PSU study to promote positive effects of siblings on each other. The study came under a federal alcohol and drug prevention grant. We were expected to attend hour long learning sessions on the importance of siblings that were after school and in the school, fill out extensive questionnaires and get videotaped in our home. Compensation was $50 for each child and $150 for adults and stuff like free pizza and soda and prizes. Sounded good. The kids were willing. The sessions were conducted by PHd candidates or PHd professionals. I stopped participating after realizing how great was the bias of the whole study. The way the questions were worded, the answers would support conclusions that families with more than 1 child become stressed out, overburdened and schizophrenic and the kids are constantly fighting. (may be true!) Here is what I mean:
Questions for me:
Do you yell at your children?
Do you sometimes yell at your children because you were having a bad day?
Are you ever inconsistent with rules?
Do you sometimes enforce rules and sometimes not enforce those same rules?
Has having children sometimes negatively effected your relationship with your spouse?
Do you and your spouse sometimes disagree on parenting issues?
Questions for the children:
Do you fight with your sibling?
Do you get mad at your sibling?
Have you ever hit your sibling?
Did your sibling ever hit you?
Do your parents sometimes give in to your sibling more than to you?
Has your sibling ever taken something from you without your permission?
If your friends are around do you not want your sibling around?
The whole experience was eye opening to me.
The answers depend on the twisted phrasing of the questions to reflect an outcome the author or pollster wants. No mother on earth can say no, I have never yelled at my children. No sibling on earth can say, no, I never fought with my sibling. The results can be then interpreted based on this survey that disharmony and distress occur when families have to juggle the needs of more than one child. Of course, that is not the whole story, but that is the analysis.
Do not believe everything you read or every poll you see.