Upon having our third child the question that we are most commonly asked is; “how many children do you want to have?”
I’m never sure how to answer the question.
In fact, I’m fascinated by families who can state with boldness that they are “done” having children. Or that they want “one more”. I simply don’t have this type of conviction and am genuinely unsure what the answer is (will be). In my quest to find out how I can answer the above question, I’ve asked many families how they determined that they are, in fact, “done” contributing to the population of the planet.
My discoveries may simply help you in your journey to answer this question for yourself. Here are some things I like to consider while working through this question (keep in mind that we still don’t have an answer and we’ve decided that we aren’t quite “done” as of this writing.)
- Consider TOMORROW: How many people would you like to have around your holiday table when you are 60?
This question takes some soul-searching, but I found it to be the most helpful in my realization that I’m willing to change a lot of diapers now so that I can enjoy a table full of children, children-in-law and grandchildren in my old age. (This question was inspired by a book my husband read called “Selfish Reasons to Have more Kids”.)
- Consider YOU: Are you healthy? Do you have a career you’d like to get back to?
I am pretty healthy and my pregnancies, though not a walk in the park are fairly manageable. I certainly think that it’s worth it for me (and my family) to endure another pregnancy so that another person might enjoy a full life. However, if I had severe complications or life-threatening experiences with my health, I can definitely see that we would take these things into consideration because we have a responsibility to be wise in this area.Likewise, everyone has different dreams and aspirations. If I never have to work in an office again, it will be too soon. I love my role as wife, mother and business owner and I’m also passionate about finding ways to work from home. This is my thing. What’s yours?
- Consider YOUR SPOUSE: Is your spouse healthy? Does he work a lot? Are you alone with the children most of the time?
This is perhaps something that we (as a culture) don’t typically think about when deciding about growing a family, but it is vitally important to consider. If one if you is battling poor health or if the child-rearing responsibilities tend to rest on one spouse more often, this can add real stress on ALL the relationships (i.e. I can be short-tempered when I’ve been without relief for several days at a time).It might not be reasonable (or realistic) to ask your spouse to change his career or to get well or be home more so that you can have more children. So, it’s best to look realistically at your family dynamic, marriage and how much each of you are able to handle.We have gotten to experience both extremes in our short stint as parents. We’ve had weeks where Kevin worked many 14 hour days and I’d be home to manage things on my own. And, recently, we’ve enjoyed more flexibility with his work schedule and that has made all of the difference to our overall quality of life. I was definitely in survival mode when he was away and was able to thrive when he was home.
- Consider YOUR CHILDREN: Are your children physically healthy? Consider their personalities, are they easy, challenging, spirited or mellow? This is another area that I have taken into account when thinking about adding to our brood. Our children are healthy and pretty even-tempered. However, when my youngest, went into the hospital with RSV at 10 weeks old, I quickly learned about how one child can quickly dominate all of my thoughts, time and energy. It was then that I understood how important it is to take into consideration what adding another person into the mix can do.
- Consider TODAY: God’s Will.
So, this is the wild-card that I throw in here because it’s very important to me as we consider growing our family. Just as taking the relationships within the family into account, my husband and I consider our relationship with God and what He would ask of us. Perhaps this is really a point to be intertwined into the preceding four. Regardless, we seek to please God with our lives and this means asking Him for direction in this area too. We expect he will speak to us through our circumstances, reading The Bible, praying and through our relationships. It’s not a science, but a relationship.
This whole thing comes down to relationships. It’s not a crystal ball or a black and white answer that is easy to for us. It’s a bit messy. I find that some families know early on and some are like us, just taking it one step at a time, one person at a time and asking for help along the way.