How many kids should you have?

How many kids should you have? February 9, 2015

One of the most important questions married couples wrestle with is, “How many kids should we have?”

It’s a questions with limitless ramifications, and it’s one that should be given thoughtful consideration. Some families are content with one (or none), but others have so many kids they end up with their own reality shows. What’s best for YOUR family?

Unfortunately,  I don’t have a “Magic Formula” which can instantly tell you the number of kids you should have, but I believe if you and your spouse will consider the following principles and questions, your number will come into clearer focus.

First off, I want to address some factors NOT to consider when determining how many children to have…

1. How many kids your friends are having.

I see a lot of couples create their “life plan” based on what their friends and doing and this is almost always a mistake. When you try to time when you have children and determine how many children to have to keep up with your peer group, you’re giving away far too much control to your friends. A generation from now, you probably won’t be close to many (or any) of your current peer group.

2. Ideal vacations.

I know this might sound silly, but early on, I thought I wanted one or two kids, because I thought it would make for a convenient experience at Disneyworld and other vacation spots. Yes, I was going to give Mickey Mouse a deciding vote in my family legacy! Thankfully, I changed my criteria.

3. Your current financial situation.

You obviously need to have a financial plan to have a family, but I’ve know plenty of large families with low incomes who find resourceful ways to make it work, and I’ve known small families with huge incomes who still manage to live with constant financial stress. Regardless of your family’s size, you can find a resourceful way to make it work.

Now, these are the questions I think you and your spouse should discuss:

1. What do we want our family to look like 30 years from now?

Children are a generational decision, but we tend to be pretty short-sighted when determining how many to have. Instead of just thinking about the difficult early years, think about what you want Thanksgiving to look like when you’re Great Grandparents.

2. Does either of us want one more?

This might be a controversial thought, but I believe you should give the deciding vote to whichever spouse wants more kids. I’ve never heard a couple say, “I wish we wouldn’t have had that last kid!” But I’ve heard plenty say, “I wish we would have had one more.” Ultimately, you and your spouse need to talk through this and try to come to a unified decision.

3. Have we prayed about this?

If you’re a person of faith, I encourage you to pray specifically for wisdom on this issue. I can’t think of more important issue to pray about!

For additional marriage and family tools, you can connect with me on twitter and check out my popular parenting blog on 7 ways parents harm their children without even realizing it.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Amaryllis

    I’ve never heard a couple say, “I wish we wouldn’t have had that last kid.”

    That’s not an acceptable thing to say in public in this society. But I know people whose parents have said it to them: “I wish I’d stopped with your older sibling” or “I wish I’d never had kids at all.” It’s a horrible thing for a child to hear.

    This might be a controversial thought, but I believe you should give the deciding vote to whichever spouse wants more kids.
    Okay, I’ll give you the contradiction you very reasonably expect. The deciding “Yes” vote goes to the spouse who has to undergo the discomforts and risks of pregnancy, and who in many families will be doing the major share of the childcare. A deciding “No” vote is the right of either spouse. Nobody should be pressured into parenthood.

  • z–man

    Two kids is enough. We’ve got 7+ billion on Earth, and we’re not sustenance farmers anymore.

  • z–man

    One thing that drives me nuts are these churches (usually fundamentalist) which continually beat it into the brains of young kids that the most important thing they can do with their entire lives is get married and have a bunch of kids, well, because, you know, “be fruitful and multiply”, etc. They push this idea so much that these kids (especially the girls) think that their lives are “over” or “ruined” if they’re not engaged by 19, married by 20, and popping out the first kid exactly 9 months later. They put aside their own aspirations for the expectations of other people, and it does them a HUGE disservice. Many times it leads to one spouse or the other flipping out some 10-15 years down the road because they realize that they’ve wasted some of the best years of their lives thinking it was their “duty” to please their parents, pastor, church, friends, society, God, or whatever. It usually leads to infidelity and divorce. I’ve seen this type of thing happen time and time again, and it’s really sad.

  • z–man

    I’ve seen that trait with women in general. Once they have met the “goal” (a.k.a. kids), then the man is further diminished.

  • z–man

    It’s for those reasons that increasing numbers of men are looking to marry foreign women, or they’ve simply sworn off marriage altogether. They think that far too many American women are such pains in the butt that they just aren’t worth the hassle. I tend to agree.

  • z–man

    Absolutely. You have to be very careful with foreign brides as well. I used to know a guy who was a chiropractor. Big, fat, kinda ugly guy, but he had money. He liked to take trips to Thailand. Well, on one trip over there, he brought home a gorgeous Thai woman who was 25 years younger, and ended up marrying her. A few years later she dumped him. He got to keep his practice, but she got his house and half his money. I haven’t talked to him in several years because the experience made him an angry, bitter man and he took it out on everyone.

  • z–man

    Up until the late 1800’s, women had essentially no rights in a marriage. When she got married, everything she owned legally became the property of her husband. If there was a divorce, the man got everything….kids included….and she was totally thrown out on the street. Today, it’s pretty much the opposite. Women get everything, and the guy gets the finger and a bunch of debt.

  • z–man

    Oh, you better believe a woman will lie and deliberately screw up her birth control to have kids…. It happened to a friend of mine. back then he was about 22, and he met this woman of equal age who was really fat, lazy, a real dingbat, had no education, no money, no assets, basically had nothing to offer…..only that she was young (if she had dropped 150 lbs I think she would have been cute). To this day I don’t understand why he was with this woman. Anyhow, he said they had gotten engaged and I told him not to marry her. It was obvious to me that she just wanted kids and didn’t care who the father was. She knew that the only thing she had was her youth, which was fading away and that as time went on, the odds that she could get a man would get less and less. Young and fat is one thing, but older and fat is quite another. He married her anyway, and said they had “agreed” not to have kids for several years until they were a both out of school and financially stable. She went on birth control and kept the packet right on the sink in the bathroom. This was deliberate, to lull my friend into thinking that she was taking the pills as he saw them disappearing. Instead, she was simply flushing them. Al she wanted to do was have sex with him, all the time. When she got knocked up, it was all “Oops!! Look at that! I guess the pill isn’t 100% reliable, huh? **snicker**”…. At that point, it was obvious to me what she had done. My friend was oblivious and refused to believe me when I explained what was going on. Sadly, the exact same thing happened AGAIN about 18 months after the first kid was born **SMH** He never learned. After the second kid was born, she wouldn’t let him touch her anymore. “No more nookie for you! Just go to work and hand over your paychecks!” He was absolutely miserable and by this time, he was 26 years old and started cheating on his wife…. So today, she really has him by the balls because he knows he would be absolutely destroyed if they ever divorced. His misery continues and it’s a real shame because there’s nothing I can do for him. We aren’t even really friends anymore, as she won’t let him out of the house for anything.

  • z–man

    I tried to warn my friend, but he didn’t listen. I told him to get his education first, and not marry that stupid, fat sow because there were much better women out there. But the young never seem to listen to the voices of reason and experience… You can point to people whom they know, and what they went through/are going through with no education. Even when the example is right in front of them, they don’t seem to get it, or even care. You just get the eye-roll. I know a few other young people who were all hot-to-trot to get married right out of high school (yes, they attended fundamentalist-type churches). They were always asking me what they should do. “Get your education first, otherwise it’s going to be very hard to do it once you get married and have kids. And finding a decent job without a decent degree is very difficult”, I said. But, they all got married and had kids right away anyhow. And now, five years later, they all complain how they have no money, never have time for themselves, have to work two crummy jobs just to pay the rent, would like to go back to school but don’t have the time, etc etc etc. All I can do is shrug my shoulders. This may be harsh, but I have no sympathy for them. They all made their own beds and now they have to sleep in them.

  • z–man

    I’ve never, ever heard of any pre-nup that had any power in divorce court….

  • JezabelleDisreali

    I think that the author is also missing a crucial point: who is going to say that they didn’t want their last child? You won’t hear anyone say that unless they are exceptionally drunk, and having an additional unwanted child can cause a strain on the parent who wanted fewer.