Are you thinking about when to have more children? My wife and I have been thinking this ourselves. We have two children currently and are wondering whether to try for a third. We hear having a third can be the hardest since we’d be outnumbered.
Having children is a personal choice. There is no right or wrong answer. However, once you have children, it’s hard to imagine anything more precious in your life.
If you had a billion dollars, you would willingly give it all away to save your child’s life. Well, unless you were J Paul Getty, who refused to pay for his grandson’s ransom until his ear was sliced off.
Given children are priceless, it stands to reason that we should all have as many children as possible. The more you have, the wealthier you will be!
Unfortunately, we all have our physical, biological, and financial limits. Not all of us can afford multiple children. Some of us may feel bad knowing that the more children we have, the less quality time we get to spend with each one.
Even if we could have many children, our personal well-being may suffer after a certain number. After all, children require a Herculean amount of effort to raise properly.
Deciding When To Have More Children
Since having more children is a personal choice, let me offer up some suggested guidelines. Please don’t run me over with a steamroller with these suggestions. My goal is to help couples make an important decision for the good of the overall family.
The last thing you want to do is have children when your relationship is strained or when you’re financially struggling. If you end up separating or divorcing, your children may suffer.
Here are some things to help you decide when to have more children:
1) Regret Minimization Framework
The regret minimization framework is a great way to decide whether to do anything big. In the case of children, you must ask yourself whether you will regret having children more than you will regret not having children.
If you think you will regret not having children or not having one more child, then you should decide to have children or one more child.
Regret is one of the most powerful feelings. The worst type of regret is when you didn’t do something due to a lack of effort. When it comes to children, even if you can’t have children, your regret will be highly diminished if you and your partner gave it your best shot.
2) When Mom’s Body Has Fully Healed
“It takes nine months to make a baby and nine months for mom to heal,” said one of the doctors we visited. Therefore, it is recommended to start trying for another child after nine months have passed, at the earliest. Many pediatricians recommend an 18-month gap from birth to conception.
Further, pregnancy often reduces lactation. Therefore, if mom is currently nursing your youngest, you may want to wait to get pregnant until after baby has weaned. A common goal for nursing is one year.
3) After You’ve Reached A Net Worth Milestone
We all know that raising a child can be expensive. The more expensive your location, the likely more expensive it is to raise a child. To help prevent the cost of raising a child from straining your relationship, it’s best to come up with certain savings, net worth, or income milestones.
Back in 2017, the USDA estimated the cost to raise a child to 18 was about $233,000. With inflation factored in, the USDA estimated the cost would balloon to roughly $284,570. Therefore, a good goal before having a child may be to grow your household’s net worth by another $300,000.
For parents in more expensive coastal cities, a more conservative net worth growth goal may be $500,000+ for each additional child. Although such an incremental net worth goal may sound like a lot, think about how many fewer broken households there would be if parents had more financial security.
4) After Both Parents Are At Least 90% Sure They Want Another Child
Given it takes a village to raise a child, at the very least, both parents need to be at least 90% sure they want another child. It is unfair to each other if one partner is indifferent while the other partner really wants a child. A strained parental relationship is unfair to the child, who has no say in entering this world.
It’s worth both partners recording a daily percentage certainty rating for at least 30 days to account for life’s ups and downs. It is during those difficult nights when a couple’s current infant isn’t sleeping or when their toddler has been particularly difficult when your certainty rating is especially important.
It is too easy to decide to want another child during perfect harmonious days. Record the bad with the good. It’s hard to ever be 100% sure about anything. Therefore, I say having at least a 90% certainty average over 30 days is what both partners need to shoot for.
5) You’ve Had A Generally Harmonious Relationship For The Past Year
The last thing you want to do is get a divorce soon after a child is born. A child can easily further damage an already damaged relationship. Please do not believe a baby will bring strained couples together!
It’s worth reviewing your entire year and discussing whether both of you can handle another child. Again, focus on the particularly difficult days or weeks. Studies show that children lower happiness in parents, even though children bring much more love and joy.
6) Your Health Is Stable
It takes a lot of energy to raise a baby. You’ve got to get through the late nights, constant holding, and the consistent mini-heart attacks you will experience trying to protect your child from injury or death.
If your health is on the decline, then you may have a difficult time caring for your child once born. If a child cannot spend quality time with his or her parents, then it may be best to delay having another child until both parents are healthier.
Ideally, you want to be healthy and live as long as possible for your children. Of course, we just never fully know about our health and life in general. As a result, every parent must get at least a term life insurance policy to last until their children become independent adults.
7) You’re Below A Certain Age
In America, you often go to the geriatric ward if the mother is over 35. It’s been like this for decades. It sounds funny, but going to the geriatric ward is great because you get extra care.
Today, 38 is likely the new 35 given we are living longer since the 1970s. After about 40, complications go way up. Further, the older you are, the less time your child will have with you.
The sad reality is that biology has not caught up with our desire to make more money and climb the corporate ladder. Couples are having babies later in life. As a result, many couples have a difficult time having a baby, let alone multiple babies.
For men, conceiving a baby at an older age is typically easier than it is for women. However, is it really fair to your child if you have him or her after 60? By the time he or she graduates from high school, there’s at least a 50% chance you will no longer be alive.
8) You Fear Loneliness For Yourself And For Your Kids
The pandemic has shown us that having companionship is very valuable. Having another sibling to play with is a blessing when schools are shut down. Having multiple siblings should help with social skills and stronger feelings of community and love.
As a parent, if you are afraid of being alone in your old age, having multiple children should help improve the odds of always having someone who will take care of you.
Having multiple children may also provide more peace of mind that your children should always have each other during times of difficulty.
9) One Or Both Parents Have Reliable Job Security & Healthcare
Having a baby is expensive. It can cost $30,000 to have a baby in America. If your baby is premature or has other issues, expect the birthing cost to skyrocket.
Unless you are already independently wealthy or have a stable business, at least one partner should have a stable job with healthcare.
The cost of healthcare is one of the biggest reasons for bankruptcies in America. Not only are healthcare premiums rising at 3X the rate of inflation each year, the actual costs of health services are skyrocketing as well. It is a shame that healthcare is mainly tied to employment.
10) You can afford a big enough house
Having little ones significantly shrinks your house. Suddenly, you hear all their screams, crying, and whining. You try to isolate one area of your house for play, but you’ll find the play area gradually expands to multiple rooms. With the pandemic keeping most families at home longer, utilizing more of the house or apartment has become commonplace.
Ideally, you want to have each child sleep in his or her own room. This allows for more independent sleeping. Can you imagine your 3-year-old sharing a room with a 6-month-old that’s always crying? It’s possible, but nobody would ever sleep!
Further, it would be nice to have a house big enough or have a smart enough configuration where the older child doesn’t disturb the baby during the day. As parents know, having a regular nap schedule is a must for babies. Not only are naps good for a baby, they are great for giving parents a break.
Personally, I think the ideal minimum house size is 500 square feet per person. In other words, if you have a spouse and two toddlers, then ideally, you’ll live in a 2,000+ square foot house with four or five bedrooms. Having an extra room for the working parent to sleep undisturbed is huge.
11) You Want To Try For A Specific Gender
Have you ever met families with three or more kids of the same gender? Well, you can bet your buns of steel that after two kids of the same gender, they were hoping for a different gender.
Most parents I speak to say they are happy with either gender. However, a good many parents would like one of each. I have a 1,000+ person survey that says 70% of parents would prefer one of each.
12) A History Of Genetic Disorders
It is a miracle every time a baby is born perfectly healthy. There are thousands of genetic issues with varying degrees of severity that may cause a child to live a more difficult life. We are likely all carriers of some type of genetic abnormality.
Some of the most common or well-known genetic disorders or diseases include:
- Downs syndrome (Trisomy 21)
- Sickle cell disease
- Cystic fibrosis
- Huntington’s Disease
- Muscular Dystrophy
- Angelman Syndrome
- Spina Bifida
- Cerebral palsy
The list goes on and on. Given roughly 15% of the global population (1.17 billion people) have some sort of disability, and between 110 – 190 million people have a significant disability, we must show empathy and kindness to all. You just never know what someone is suffering from.
If your first baby is born with a significant genetic disorder, there is probably a higher likelihood your next child will be born with a similar or different genetic disorder.
You must make a calculated decision whether you have the resources to support another child with a disability. And perhaps, because you are already experienced with one child with a disability, you will be more than capable of caring for another child with a disability.
I like to think that God gives special children to parents who are most capable.
13) How Much The Primary Caretaker Is Suffering
The non-primary caretaker needs to carefully observe how the primary caretaker is holding up during the initial years of parenthood. In the first year, the primary caretaker is usually the mother due to breastfeeding.
Everybody handles sleepless nights, fussy babies, whiny toddlers, and moody children differently. Those with a higher tolerance and plenty of patience tend to have more children and vice versa.
The key is to not suffer from Dunning-Kruger and think you have more patience and tolerance than you actually do. This is where the secondary caretaker needs to be super observant if the couple wants to make a logical decision.
We often forget about how difficult the first six months of childcare really are. This amnesia might be an evolutionary way to trick us into having more children than we really should. Our pediatrician even joked about this one time.
I know plenty of couples who divorced within 10 years after having children even though they know working things out is better for their children. Children can be very difficult on a marriage that isn’t properly aligned.
14) The Amount Of Childcare Provided By The Husband
Once you have children, no longer do you think being a stay at home parent is an inferior job. Being a stay at home parent from ages 0 – 5 is much harder than working a day job. And usually, that stay at home parent is the mom.
Relationships tend to sour when one parent is perceived to be doing an unequal amount of work. A stay at home mom may be bothered that her husband only cares for the baby or plays with the children for 1-2 hours a day. Meanwhile, a husband may get annoyed because he works 10 hours a day, spends 1-2 hours with the children a day, and then most of the weekend with the children.
Some parents are super caretakers. They have the energy to take care of multiple children with ease. Some are exhausted being a stay at home parent to just one or two. If you find yourself in the latter camp, and your partner does not put in enough hours a day that you find acceptable, then you probably shouldn’t have another baby.
The Ideal Number Of Children To Have
Now that we’ve gone through all the considerations on whether or when to have more children, let’s look at some surveys regarding the ideal number of children to have.
In the United States, nearly half of adults consider two to be the ideal number of children according to Gallup polls. The next most popular option is three children, preferred by 26 percent. In Europe, the ideal number of children to have is also two.
In 1957, only 20 percent of Americans said the ideal family meant two or fewer children. Instead, 72 percent preferred having three or more.
The main reason for the decline is due to the rising cost of raising children and more women entering the workforce.
The Pandemic May Shut Families Out
The pandemic may actually shut out many couples from having more children as well. So many families are resource restraint with most schools still on a distance learning plan. Parents are dropping out of the workforce to stay at home and take care of their kids.
It’s also good to think about how to navigate pregnancy with the new vaccines. Since pregnant women were not tested before approval, this is another element of uncertainty. Will this new type of mRNA vaccine hurt babies or not?
How can anybody guarantee vaccine safety until thousands of pregnant women are voluntarily tested and their children are studied over many years? Nobody can know for sure. Therefore, we’ve all got to take calculated risks and hope for the best.
Considerations About The Vaccine And Pregnancy
Taking a vaccine is also a personal decision you have to make for yourself. Since there are fetal risks if a mother is exposed to COVID-19, these are the options to think about if you are thinking of having another child during the pandemic.
1) Get the vaccine before pregnancy. Then wait a month or two before trying to get pregnant. This should cross out the vaccine as a potential risk to the baby. It will also ease your fears of catching the coronavirus at doctor visits and in the hospital.
2) Get pregnant before getting the vaccine. Then, don’t get the vaccine while pregnant. Instead, wait until after delivery for the mother to get the vaccine. By waiting until after delivery to get the vaccine, parents can cross out the vaccine as a potential risk to the baby in utero. Of course, you are free to get the vaccine while pregnant to.
3) Don’t get the vaccine before, during, or after. If the majority eventually get the vaccine, then your chances of getting COVID-19 declines.
The issue with getting the vaccine before getting pregnant is that you may have to wait for months. For women under 30 who have no fertility issues, waiting six months is not a big deal. However, for women over 35 or with fertility issues, time is more precious.
We don’t mind being in the back of the line to get the vaccine. However, my wife is also turning 41 in 2021. Therefore, our chances of conceiving are likely under 5%.
These are tough decisions every couple has to figure out on their own. The best person to consult with is probably your doctor. At the very least, it’s probably worth having the male partner get vaccinated to minimize the risk of contagion at home.
All these unknown variables are a reminder that if you want children, having children in your early 30s is probably best. Figuring out when to have more children is complicated enough. Doing so at an older age when biology may not cooperate can become very frustrating. Throw in a pandemic and then everything becomes one big crapshoot.
Our Thoughts On Having More Children
The decision to go from one to two children was fairly easy. We thought it would be nice for our son to have a sibling. We were already in the trenches, so having a second child wouldn’t be so much harder. The ratio of one child to one parent sounded good.
However, we have some concerns about having more children because we are older parents. Genetic disorders and complications increase at our age. We feel very blessed to already have a second child. At one point, we thought we would never have children because we tried for so long to have our first.
It’s already difficult to feel like we spend enough quality time with both kids every day. This is despite having them home all day. Adding a third child seems like it would dilute our attention of each to a guilt-inducing level.
With two children, we are each able to care of them more easily. And with more childcare help, my wife and I can have more breaks and time with each other.
Going From Two To Three
Having a healthy third child would be amazing. I know I will never regret having him or her decades from now. My family can currently afford to have a third child. We’ve planned for one extensively by building up our passive income and going through various budgets.
If we successfully have a third child, we will have to buy a new vehicle with third-row seats and potentially a new house as well. We’d also have to set up another 529 plan and Roth IRA as well. These are all financial strains that can be overcome. Thankfully, siblings have preference for grade school admission.
With three children, unless we get full-time help, we will always have our hands full. Unfortunately, we have no family support in San Francisco, hence one of the reasons why we’d like to move to Hawaii.
For over 10 months, I’ve woken up by 5 am on average every morning to write and get all sorts of online business requests out before my kids wake up. I do so because writing when the kids are awake is impossible. Life would be easier if I could sleep in until 7 am or 8 am, but I biologically can’t after two decades of waking up earlier.
When preschool opens up in 2H2021, life should get better. However, while we are in the thick of child-raising, it’s hard to think about adding on even more responsibility.
Further, I don’t want to give up my writing. Writing is my joy. Writing helps me think through difficult situations. The harder life gets, the more defiant I get. I have a desire not to let bad situations get me down. However, like many of you, I’m mentally and physically exhausted.
Finally, after three years and nine months of being a stay at home dad, I’ve come to realize I’m not very good at being a dad. After about four hours of childcare, I start feeling restless. I don’t have the patience or endurance to take care of a child 8-12 hours a day. I want the freedom to do other things.
I’m constantly amazed at parents who enjoy taking care of children all day. Maybe it’s a guy thing, but all my friends who are fathers have full-time jobs. Therefore, they find childcare much easier.
Kids Are The Greatest Blessing
As I’ve grown older, I’ve noticed those with the most resources tend to have the most number of kids. This may be obvious to you. But when I was younger, I tended to focus on why some poorer families had many children.
Now the answer is clear. Given how precious kids are, the logical conclusion is to have as many precious children as possible. Money is not needed to procreate. However, money and time are needed to raise children properly.
Unfortunately, it’s sometimes hard finding someone you love and trust enough to have multiple children with. Further, at some point, having too many children may seriously hurt a relationship due to the financial, physical, and mental strain.
Both parents must equally want to have another child. Otherwise, things could really sour down the line.
Sadly, we and other older families are running out of time to have more children. However, we are thrilled with the children we already have.
Please Get Life Insurance
If you have children, please, for goodness sake, get life insurance. If there’s one thing this pandemic has taught us, it’s that life is full of risk and uncertainties. Getting life insurance will help minimize that dreaded feeling of uncertainty. You can get the best life insurance rates with PolicyGenius. Compare and contrast various offers that best suit your family’s needs.
Unfortunately for me, it looks like I can no longer get an affordable term life insurance policy due to my age and a sleep apnea diagnosis years ago (which I think is gone).
In retrospect, I should have gotten a 30-year term policy when I was 30, not a 10-year term policy. I will revisit the option of converting my existing term life insurance policy into a whole life policy before it runs out in 2022.
Readers, how did you decide when to have more children? What was the experience like going from two to three kids? Did you struggle with finding enough quality time to spend with your children? Did you have any guilt that you weren’t spending enough time with your children? What was the hardest thing about going to three or more children? What was the best thing?