When More Means MORE!
Speaking of money, the family size is almost always influenced by finances: the additional college tuitions, weddings, school fees, a bigger car, a bigger house, or even everyday expenses like food and clothing. When it comes to money, men are more likely to put the brakes on procreation than women. Although it’s a generalization and not the case for every couple, a woman’s desire to have more children tends to be emotionally based while a man’s reluctance is financially rooted. Women think, “We have enough love in our hearts, let’s just do it,” while men worry that, “More children means more bills, more responsibility, and more pressure to earn money.”
When Stress Means Less
There are two types of couples: the ones who share a nice bottle of Merlot and wind up pregnant and the ones that spend years and fortunes to bring home a baby. If you’re one of the latter, the financial and emotional toll that fertility treatments or adoption can wreak upon your life can spur you to say, “Enough!” Even if one partner is ready to give it another whirl, the other may not be able to handle the physical demands of assisted conception techniques or want to climb onto the emotional roller coaster of adoption again.
His, Hers, and Ours
When you’re talking about stepfamilies or blended families, the question isn’t so much, “Should we have another?” but rather, “Should we have one together?” If one or more spouses already have children, they might not want more. “When I married Tim, his boys were in junior high, and he made it clear that he didn’t want to do the baby ‘thing’ again,” says Susan, mother to four-month-old Jackson, “but when I accidentally got pregnant, he completely reversed himself.”
If only one mate brings children into the relationship, the other may want biological children of his or her own. Jackie says, “Although my husband had two daughters when we started dating, I told him up front that I wanted children if we were to get married. Now we’re a family of six!”
Sometimes, a newly remarried couple has the strong desire to create a new baby to make one of “ours.” When stepchildren are involved, it’s important to consider the impact a half sibling can have. Some children may enjoy having a new baby to play with and may even feel closer to their stepparent through this new link, but it’s not uncommon for older stepchildren to feel discarded and second best as they see their mother or father lavish attention on a new baby they didn’t expect or hope for. The arrival of a half-sibling can also dash the secret hope of a parental reunion that a child may have harbored, and result in anger and resentment towards the new baby.
All the Wrong Reasons
There are thousands of wonderful reasons to have a baby and just as many crazy ones. Some of the most misguided motivations include:
“Everyone has two kids,” Kim, mother of one, observes. “It feels strange that we only have one child and sometimes I feel odd or uncomfortable with my friends. Am I supposed to have another?” Are you really going to raise a child because everyone else is doing it too?
Women who lacked a dynamic professional or personal life before having children sometimes feel uncertain about what to do once their kids go off to school, so they have another child because it seems like the only option. “Raising children is what I know how to do. The house felt empty and I didn’t know what to do with myself once my first two kids got older. I didn’t know who I was without a child next to me, so I got pregnant again,” explains 39-year-old Christina, mother of three boys.
It can be fun raising a younger third child once your older children are self-sufficient and you’re past the new mother "am-I doing-this-right" jitters. But it can also put a crimp in your lifestyle if you’re accustomed to kids that can make a bowl of cereal or play unsupervised. If boredom or uncertainty are making you think about ditching the birth control pills, then a hobby, a job, or some volunteer work might be worth trying before taking that leap.
“Every time we saw our ultrasound results I felt terribly disappointed, then horribly guilty for being disappointed in this innocent baby just for being the wrong sex,” admits Andrea, mother of three girls. Procreating in the hopes of having a son or daughter is risky business and can lead to heartache for parents and potentially unwanted children. If you must have a child of a particular gender, ask yourself how you’ll feel and react if luck and biology don’t meet your expectations.
The #1 most misguided reason to have a child is the false hope that a baby will fix a broken relationship. Sadly, that fairy tale only comes true in the movies. In real life, the addition of a child will only add more stress to an already weakened bond between parents. Never, ever have another child in an attempt to solve marital problems with your spouse. Rather than bringing you closer together, another child will only create more stress on your relationship, ultimately affecting all the members of your family.
When It’s Right—It’s Right!
There’s really only one perfectly good reason to have a baby: because both mom and dad have the time, resources, and love to accept the divine privilege of raising a child, and both of them eagerly want to do it. When those important criteria are met, you’ve got a recipe for family harmony.