Making the decision about having another baby or not, whether this would be your second child or your fourth, is one of the major decisions you will make in your lifetime. There is no right or wrong answer, and there are many variables that play a part in the decision making process. The answer to the question of how many children you should have has a very different answer for each family. How do you make this decision? Here are a few suggestions that will get you closer to making the best decision for you and your family.
Questions to Ponder
Asking the right questions is a key to making this decision. Take your time to search your soul, consult with your partner, and figure out your answers. Of course, there are no “right” answers so give yourself the freedom to explore the options and look within yourself to find the answers that will bring you the most contentment.
Why do we want another child?
There are many reasons for wanting another child including wanting a sibling for your child or simply loving the process of raising children. Consider what you know of yourself, your view of family life, your own upbringing, & the countless reasons of the heart.
Also be aware of reasons that may lead to struggle down the road. If it’s the amazing experiences of pregnancy and childbirth you miss, remember that your commitment only begins with these and continues long after the baby’s arrival. If you’re considering another child due to pressure from your parents, in-laws, other relations or friends, tune their voices out for a bit and listen only to those of yourself and your mate.
This decision must come from the two people who know your situation best, and who will have to live the day-to-day realities of another child.
Are we willing to change our economic position?
The phrase “economic position” does not just speak to the financial aspect of having another child. Finances and budgets are definitely something that needs to be taken into consideration; however, we should not forget some of the other resources involved.
Your time, your patience, and your attention are all essentials in great demand. Adding another child means that your time and attention will be divided, and your patience will be tested. The good news is that most people find that love is a beautiful, unlimited, renewable resource that helps everything else fall into place.
Are we ready for life to change?
Having a baby (whether it is your second or your seventh), changes the family dynamic. New babies compete for attention as soon as they arrive, and they are usually victorious in that battle. The first 24 months of having a baby are intense, because the baby is solely dependent on the parents for all needs.
There will be major adjustments for everyone in the family upon the arrival of a new baby. You should not base this huge life decision solely on the next 24 months because every parent knows that each stage is a phase that eventually passes. However, you need to be realistic about how your lives will be affected now, next year, and 15 years into the future.
How will my children react?
It is easy to envision how your life will change, but you may also worry about how your current children will react to a new baby. Your current children and their unique personalities do play a role in deciding whether or not to have more children. It may be a matter of timing or coming up with strategies to ease the transition, or you may decide that having more children simple isn’t the best decision for you and your family.
The good news is that children are wonderfully resilient and adaptable. If you make a decision for the right reasons, your family will adjust accordingly to either accommodate a new family member or be content with the wonderful family that they already have.
Are you and your partner in agreement?
One of the most important things is that you and your partner come to an agreement that both of you can be happy with. Discuss the questions above, your thoughts, your concerns, and your emotions. This is something that will involve endless energy, commitment, and love; and you will need to be a partnership.
If you’re a single parent
When you’re making decisions on your own it’s best if you take twice the time to get to your answer. Raising children alone is twice the work – but you also get all the joy. It’s important that you follow your head just a little bit more than your heart on this one, so that the ‘you of the future’ will be happy with the decision you make today.
You want another child, but you don’t know when.
You have already considered all of these questions, and you have discussed them with your partner. You are both in agreement that you want another child; however, you are not sure if now is the right time. Here are some things to consider:
- The biological clock and fertility issues. Many couples are waiting to start families until later in life. While women can have babies in their 40’s, fertility rates do drop drastically after the age of 35, and the risks of having a special needs baby increase. Achieving pregnancy could take longer than you would expect or hope, and you may need to investigate factors that will aid in conception.
- The impact of pregnancy. Pregnancy, labor, and delivery take its toll on a woman’s body. While there is a never a guarantee, studies show that waiting at least 12-18 months between pregnancies gives you the best chances of a healthy pregnancy, delivery and baby. It is usually a good idea to allow your body to heal and recover before becoming pregnant again.
- The age gap issue. Everyone seems to have an opinion about how far apart in age your children should be. There is no right answer because there are pros and cons to any age gap. You know your family dynamics best and what may work best for your family. Keep in mind that personalities and parenting styles tend to influence family patterns more so than the number of months or years that separate your children’s birthdays.
- The waiting time for adoption. If you are considering adoption, the process could be very time-consuming. Depending upon the route that you choose to take, there may be a long waiting period between making a decision to adopt and having your baby join your family.
What’s in your heart?
This is one of the most important questions, and one that we sometimes ignore.
If you’ve thoroughly examined all the questions above and taken ample time to contemplate this decision, yet your heart and soul continue to have an empty spot that craves another child (or conversely, the doubt and fear are overwhelming), then perhaps you already have your answer.
Your “right” answer is likely within you already…