Monday, November 19, 2012

Should You Grow Your Family?

Oftentimes when I meet a couple with one child, the discussion of whether they should grow their family comes up. As the mom of 5 kids, people feel comfortable discussing family size with me, and I’m asked to weigh in on the topic. But it wasn’t so long ago that I faced the same dilemma, of whether I should grow my own family. Here’s my take on the matter:

All Aboard!  It may be commonsense, but are both you and your spouse on board with the decision to have another child?  If the answer is no, then you have some serious talking to do among yourselves.  The decision must be made unanimously, or you risk spousal resentment--or even worse--resentment toward your child. 

What Can You Offer Another Child?  When I say what can you offer another child, I’m not talking about materialistic things.  I’m talking about those rare, hard-to-find things like love, attention, respect, and life lessons that make a child grow into an upstanding citizen.  But more importantly, are you able to offer this to two (or more) children?  You can believe me when I say that children can sense when you have favourites, and notice when they have been left out.

What Can a Child Offer You?  Often I hear that a deciding factor for having an additional child is so the firstborn child can have a brother (or sister).  What makes you want to add another child to your family?  Are you willing to accept unconditional love, friendship, humour—and even great challenges, some which you did not experience with your first child?  Can you embrace a child that has you or your spouse’s best (or worst) qualities?  Can you accept if your second child doesn’t have the same qualities that you admire in your firstborn child?       

Who Cares?  If you’re currently working outside of the home, who will care for your new addition?  Government parental benefits do allow parents to stay home for the first year (in Canada), but after this timeframe, childcare costs should be factored in.  If you have 2 children requiring childcare, your costs will double.

Spread Too Thin?  Will you have enough time to devote to two (or more) children?  This is the same concern that my husband voiced, when we were deciding to grow our family from 4 to 5 children.  It was very important to us that we would have lots of one-on-one time with each child, and be able to devote individual attention to each.  As kids get older, they require individual help with homework, reading and extracurricular activities.  More importantly, building a one-on-one relationship with your child is essential in order to learn about them as an individual—and for building mutual love, respect and trust.

The Proper Care & Feeding of a Child!  On a practical note, do you have adequate resources to care for an additional child right now—resources to allow him or her to thrive?  We’ve all heard expressions like “Things have a way of falling into place” or “God will provide”.  However, if you’re having a hard time making ends meet right now, ask yourself if you should wait before taking on the responsibility of an additional child.

Health Matters!  I believe that if a pregnancy will endanger you or your spouse’s health—or the health of your unborn child—then you should not grow your family right now.  If there’s a permanent health matter, then there are definitely other ways to grow your family, such as through surrogacy or adoption.  Or perhaps your family feels complete already, and you’re happy with the family that you already have!

This article was written by me, Jenna Em, and appears in the November 25th, 2012 issue of the Huffington Post.


  1. What a great post!

    When I was younger, I told everyone I wanted 8 kids and while a part of me still thinks that, I also believe that two children are best for our family (for a whole bunch of reasons).

    You have to follow your gut, most of all, but I just love all of your points you've made to think about! It's a hard decision.

    The other thing is too, this is one of those things is you won't fully know the answer until you've had that additional child and then, it is too is never prepared for the changes an additional child makes to a family, are they?! It's so hard to know!

    GREAT, great post!

  2. I too thought I wanted 8 kids. Then I found out how much things cost in real life (mortgage, education, clothes, car seats). Reduced the number to 3. Had 2 and think this is a good fit for our family too!

    Great post. Some parts made me chuckle ;)

  3. I too wanted 8 kids. Then I got married and started living REAL life (with mortgage, education costs, etc). Reduced it to 3. Had 2 and think this is a really good fit for our family.

    Great post Jenna. Some parts made me chuckle ;)

  4. This is a great post and I think very important things for couples to discuss beforehand. We know a few couples who debate over whether or not to have another child, and it's really important you both agree 100% or not, otherwise there will be some form of resentment like you mentioned. It might not be now, but could be later on. We both agreed on 2 and it's a perfect fit for us :)

  5. Yes this should definitely discussed and both partners. Great post!

  6. Good points. When my husband and I did our marriage prep course, our leaders stressed that spouses must agree on how many kids they want to have. Luckily we've always done so... but we know others for whom this is a big discussion. :) Thanks for sharing!

  7. This was a discussion I had not long ago with my spouse and I am against having any more children. Awesome post!

  8. awesome post. growing up I wanted a large family (6 kids) and while I would still love to add to our family (we have 2 right now) I don't think it is in the cards

  9. I'm very happy with my family that I have right now but, we so longed to have another child. But, due to a permanent health matter, I can't have more children without risk. We are still dealing with it but, what a great post. :)

  10. That's an interesting post. My dad always said he could be rich or have lots of children.
    Being from a large family myself I would like to point out the benefits of that. People from large families are usually better at getting along with other people. The like each other and have a stronger view of family. There are exceptions but it's not the rule.

  11. There were 8 besides me and it was great !

  12. When I announced to my Grandmother 36 years ago that we were going to have a baby, her comment was , "OH NO" I laughed it off because she had 13 children. Today most are able to make the choice of how many children. We have 2 boys and a girl and that was enough for hubby


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