459 comments

Great News: You’re Allowed To Have Only One Kid!

hands1It was a black and frosty night, sometime in the dead of winter 2007. I was in the rocking chair holding my baby son, who was about one year old at the time. I was offering him a bottle and I knew he needed food, but he was upset and had been screaming for much of the night. My wife and I had been trading off baby shifts as usual so each of us could get half a night’s sleep, which is a very helpful tactic since the sleep deprivation stage of raising a child can go on for more than a year.

“Wow, raising kids is an incredibly difficult thing”, I thought to myself, “But worthwhile in so many ways. Every day this little guy advances through more milestones, and it’s amazing to think he will be walking and talking pretty soon, bonding with his parents over common interests and learning, and maybe even staying up at night to care for his own son or daughter someday. It’s too bad we have to start all over in only a year, to have a second child and go right back to zero. I’ve survived this first year of sleep deprivation, but can’t help but to dread two more years of it”.

Time went on, and we continued to reap all the joys and strains of parenthood. We took him on hikes and reacquainted ourselves with the joy of being alive, through the eyes of someone who is seeing it all for the first time. The three of us took trips together, read books, made snow forts and blanket tents and wooden boats, and mixed it up with family and close friends often.

But it wasn’t always easy, or even fun. Our marriage was stretched to the thinnest of threads at times, as the needs of the child displaced the needs of a relationship. Personal interests and even a moment’s peace and quiet were long forgotten. Social and travel opportunities were postponed for years, or indefinitely, because they weren’t compatible with our son’s temperament or limited diet, no matter how much we worked on the various issues. In the thick of the bad times of raising a young child, you sometimes feel like your whole life has been one long screaming, screeching, smashing, crying argument.

Luckily, you tend to wake up the next day and it’s back to joy. But it is still essential to say what most people avoid saying: parenting is more than just curling up on a couch with their cute little faces gazing at you while you read them an adventure novel (which is the way I always pictured it).

So anyway, one day we had a two-year-old son and thus it was time to produce the next child. He was sleeping well and flourishing beautifully, and the two children would be spaced closely enough that they could be friends eventually. We dutifully started making the arrangements, and I braced for the next round of caring for an infant. I looked far into the future and pictured my future 8-year-old explaining scientific concepts to the 5-year-old using the teaching medium of Lego, and determined that all would be well. Then I pictured them at 28 and 25, and it was even better – helping them with their houses and careers, traveling together meeting their girlfriends or boyfriends or spouses, and a lifetime of friendship. If only there were a way to get there without the torture stage.

At that moment, my wife came home from the library with a nice load of books. One of them was “Parenting an Only Child”, a book about only children and how most of the conventional assumptions about them are wrong. They do exceptionally well as children, flourish socially, and end up with lives that are at least as happy as people who grew up in larger families.

Thinking about it, this was the main reason I was assuming we’d have two kids. You have the second one as a gift to your first one, so they can go through life together. After all, I have two older sisters and a younger brother, and my wife has a younger brother as well. We both have fond memories of our childhoods together and we get along with them well today.

But on further reflection, most of my social life as a kid was with other kids that were closer to my own age. And my relationship with my parents was probably diluted by the high effort (both financial and emotional) they had to put into raising such a large flock of us. Their marriage broke up towards the end of that multi-decade effort, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the strain of kids was part of it. Hell, a full 40% of my own friends and acquaintances who had kids when we did in 2006 are already divorced. So once again, there are negatives to be considered alongside the positives.

The bottom line is that we read the book, and then poked through a few other books and articles on the same topic, and I was sold on the idea.

“Honey! This is amazing news! We’re allowed to have only one kid, and everything still turns out great! This is what WE should do!”

 

Mrs. Money Mustache was thrown slightly off balance, since she had brought home the book expecting discussion rather than such an immediate transformation, but the more we discussed the issue, the more we realized it was the right one for us.

Having (or not having) kids is an extremely personal decision, and it’s not something that I (or your friends, parents, in-laws, church, government, religion, or society) should really have much say in. It’s between you and your partner, and even then it is questionable practice to try to force a partner into having more of them than he or she wants.

As a person who tries to put things into a logical perspective, kids are a tricky one. After all, it may seem somewhat illogical to voluntarily create a new being, and make such a big sacrifice to your own life to support it. Especially since there is no shortage of need in the world – why not help others instead of creating still more need?

On the other hand, if your goal of living is to understand what being a Human is all about, reproduction is pretty logical. It is the reason for all life on the planet, and it really the sole purpose of your existence from an evolutionary perspective. It would be hard to say you’ve had the full experience of humanity without experiencing this core part of it. Every cell in your body exists just to allow this to happen. That still doesn’t mean that you should have kids, it’s just an explanation for why it could be considered logical at some level.

The bottom line is that there are enormous positives and negatives that go along with your baby-making decisions, and it helps to step back from our dumb evolutionary programming (see the part about every cell in your body above), and realize that following your immediate emotions is not usually the path to the happiest life. You could even make an oversimplified decision-making chart on the issue. For me, it might look like this:

Figure 1: My own family planning chart.

Figure 1: My own family planning chart.

 

For others, the chart will look totally different, and that’s fine too. The real point I wanted to make here is that it was nice to find out that One Kid is a wonderful way to go, and how nicely it has been working out for us. If you didn’t know you were allowed to do this without being perceived as a weirdo, I hereby give you permission.

Further resources:

Parenting an Only Child: the Joys and Challenges of Raising Your One and Only by Susan Newman, can probably be found in your Library, as well as possibly on Better World Books (used) and Amazon. And there are many other great books, documentaries, interviews and videos about the idea.

 

 

 

 

  • alice September 11, 2014, 7:16 pm

    I think its a sensitive issue since so many people commented. If you are healthy and able and wondering if you should or should not.. when it comes to another child -you should. Nobody ever regretted having one more.. but many people have regretted not having any more… (if that is a choice of course, not applicable if someone is unable to physically have another child)

    Reply
    • Katherine September 14, 2014, 6:06 pm

      Lots of people regret having kids at all.

      Reply
  • Mom September 11, 2014, 7:54 pm

    We stopped at one because of my postpartum depression – it was hard enough going through that once – no way I’m even taking the chance of that happening again. I hated having a baby, but I’m really enjoying having a toddler. I don’t know how much of that is because of my PPD vs just not being a baby person, but we’re still not having another. I’ve even started discussions with my Dr about permanent sterility options. I took a while to get used to the fact that we’d have only one kid – but the relief for me was immeasurable when we decided that a family of three was plenty..

    Reply
  • wes September 11, 2014, 7:56 pm

    No one mentioned legacy, as in carrying on your name and your heritage. Having more than one increase the odds of your legacy surviving. We can even move past personal legacy and talk about having more kids so that your national legacy will survive.

    Reply
  • Andrew September 11, 2014, 9:17 pm

    How apropos to the conversations my wife and I are having as of late. Our daughter is two years old, and my wife, being an only child from an already sparse extended family, wants to prolong the “sentence,” as you put it. I believe her desire for more children stems from fear of loneliness, as her mother passed away a few years ago and her father remarried and moved out of state. I, on the other hand, have a sibling and wish you could’ve written this post 30 years ago!

    My wife has been pretty receptive to mustachianism thus far. I’ll just have to tempt fate and see where this one gets me!

    Reply
  • Brian September 11, 2014, 10:15 pm

    1: thanks for writing a personal and very legitimate post.
    2 : thanks for encouraging people to do what is best for them and not be concerned with others opinions!
    3: thanks for keeping this website about fulfilling ones personal dreams and f-everything else!

    Reply
  • Bee September 11, 2014, 11:20 pm

    That chart is hillarious! I say, whatever works for you, if 1 is your number, fantastic. I was an only child with all the benefits and I always wanted a large family because something was missing. We have 2 (and yes, I haven’t slept for 5 years) and I want more. Hubby thinks I’m crazy, for the exact reasons you listed. Plus he pointed out in his logical way, that having 3 kids is much much more expensive than 2. We can maintain a comfortable lifestyle w 2, but with 3 we’ll need larger cars, a bigger house, European holidays will be put on hold indefinitely ( that hurts, as my parents live there), kids will have to pay for their own uni fees and we will have a limited social life for a long time. Sounds selfish but I understand his point. I’m more afraid of another 9 months of morning sickness than the financial strain though. Having a child is an emotional decision for me, not a financial one. I’m still hoping I can persuade him to have nr 3 before menopause kicks in :) and to hell with the charts!

    Reply
  • burly September 12, 2014, 6:56 am

    You’re a few months late in posting this! :-P

    Reply
  • 5inatrailer September 12, 2014, 7:23 am

    I haven’t read ALL the replies, but it’s funny I didn’t see any mention of unplanned pregnancies.
    We loved our 20’s, until one day we decided we were bored with our self absorbed lifestyle. For us, we had a girl and decided to move to an acreage with a trailer and build our dream house.

    Then 20 mo later had a boy, then 27 mo later had another boy…neither of which were planned. Every day is full commit. And we love them. Now they are 7/5/3 yrs old and we are…

    5 in a trailer.

    Reply
    • Julie September 16, 2014, 10:58 am

      It is amazing that in the US 37% of pregnancies are unplanned. That number still surprises me. I wonder what it is with Mustachians?

      Reply
  • Darrow Kirkpatrick September 12, 2014, 8:45 am

    Nice post on a sensitive issue, thanks. The family planning chart is spot-on with my experience, though our approach wasn’t so logical at the time! Anyway, we had one kid, and it was hard at the start, as described. Then it was an incredible roller coaster. And now, at adulthood, it’s one of the great blessings of my life. My own take on this issue, for what it’s worth, is in my post “Having Kids vs. Retiring Earlier.”

    Reply
  • Catherine Marie September 12, 2014, 10:06 am

    I am an only child, and I loved it. Lots of resources sent my way, undergrad and Masters fully paid for, and lots of attention.
    However, my parents are now divorced, elderly, and live across the country. How do I care for them each, separately, on my own? They are both remarried to (also elderly) spouses, and everyone seems to be in poor health. Do I travel back multiple times a year at great cost? Eventually take over their finances (from across the country?) Put them in assisted living? Move them both over to my end of the country? WTF do I do?! As these questions loom closer, I often think “Damn! I wish I had a sibling to help me with all this shit.” Because it’s literally just me…no cousins or aunts or uncles or any extended family to help. And, because they are divorced, I have to deal with each of their situations separately and independently; I am one lady doing two enormous jobs, and it fills me with anxiety as they continue to get older. So yeah…here’s an only wishing she had a sib.

    Reply
  • S.G. September 12, 2014, 10:38 am

    I have been wondering for a long time why MMM home has only one child…. I must admit, I am bummed. After all tough talk, one thing that made Mr MM melt was few years of having a small child and a bit of sleep deprivation. You don’t need a book to tell you that having 0-9 kids (or more). You can do whatever you want and it’s fine. But it’s sort of strange for someone who embraces overcoming hurdles, to give up “future fun” of having more children because of the early torture phase. Just wait for your son’s puberty, it may get so much worse that you will fondly remember those nights with a screaming baby ;).

    Reply
  • MrsMoreWithLess September 12, 2014, 11:25 am

    As others have noted, I don’t believe having a child or two has to be expensive, especially if your child is healthy. I look back on my own childhood and can easily see where the bills should have been cut. My parents spent a lot of money making sure we not only lived in an upper-middle class neighborhood but also had access to all kinds of activities that in the long run were probably not worth the money spent. Did we really need those tennis lessons, as well as tap dancing, art, etc. when the school offered plenty of free opportunities to test out our interest and abilities in all kinds of things (even I knew deep down I wasn’t going to play tennis well)? Add to that, did we really need the designer clothing in order to feel better about ourselves in a neighborhood that was so focused on money and appearances? Maybe we should have moved. Obviously, it wasn’t a good place values-wise if you have to worry about your child’s self-worth being tied to an expensive pair of jeans and Guess shirts. Sure, that can be said for many places in America but not all.

    The biggest expense, of course, was the house that was really out of their price range. Our rooms were too big, we had one too many bathrooms and of course, we were always scolded for wasting the electricity needed to illuminate the rooms and halls of the way too big house.

    When I read MMM, it’s nice to see that the American dream may very well have been redefined or at least be on its way to being redefined. No, you don’t need the 4+ bedroom house with 3 bathrooms and an extended kitchen in a well-off high tax neighborhood and kids who must learn ballet/football/painting/karate/Chinese/special summer camps for this and that plus the most amazing clothing etc., to have a happy life.

    Reply
  • Alice September 12, 2014, 11:53 am

    I am not saying you should have another child because you will regret not having one. But if you are in doubt.. which this article says you are.. You want people to support you on your decision.
    Its your life, your time and your money. But few things to keep in mind when making this decision:
    Your child without a doubt will benefit from having a sibling.
    You will no longer have to constantly entertain your child and play with him because he will always have a sibling to play with.
    It does get easier with the second one. In your case it most definitely will be., since you gave way too much attention to raising a first one -both stopped working to take care of one infant…with the second one you will much more likely be more relaxed.
    since you are not working full time in an office it will not be a huge challenge for you to raise more kids.
    more kids means better financial aid in college.
    I can go on, but you get the idea. Good luck.
    Alice

    Reply
    • Sandy September 13, 2014, 2:27 am

      I really must respectfully disagree with your point of view. I had a younger brother and never ever benefited from that fact. In fact, having a new sibling dropped into my life at the age of 5.5 is really one of the main reasons I decided early in life I’d never have more than 1 kid myself.

      Growing up, I had my arts and crafts and needed no parent to entertain me. I was an introvert, my younger brother an extravert… all I remember is how he bothered me because he needed to be entertained while I was perfectly happy with my pencils or a book. All on my own…

      We’re all grown up now and haven’t talked in years… so I’m sorry but “Your child without a doubt will benefit from having a sibling.” is just nog true for every child. All I learned is that I would have been happier on my own.

      Reply
  • RetiredAt63 September 12, 2014, 12:17 pm

    So many assumptions. My sister and I are three years apart. Three years is too big a gap for good playing together, except in groups that include a bunch of kids of several ages. What I wanted was an older brother. Unfortunately I was born 14 months after my parents got married, so no older brother. Now my sister and I are fairly close, but I have girl friends that are closer. I have seen families where an older brother was a horrible bully to his sisters (so maybe it was just as well I didn’t have one), and I have seen similar families where the older brother protected the younger ones fiercely.
    Parental care – I have seen so many families where one child ended up doing all the parental care as parents got older – geography, genders of the children, attitudes – just because you have more than one does not mean they will all be there for you when you get old.
    Extended family – my sister and I were not close to our cousins, so we tried hard to have our children be close to each other – didn’t work.
    Mixed gender families – how many families have I seen where they kept having one more to get a child of the opposite sex (either way) – and then you have a family of 3-5 boys/girls.

    Takeaway – have the number of children you want, because all those basic assumptions may not hold true for your family.

    Reply
    • Lou September 12, 2014, 12:37 pm

      So true about the pointlessness of assumptions.

      – we wanted two kids close together in age, and arrogantly assumed that since I fell pregnant with Number One the very first month of not-even-trying-that-hard-to-conceive, the same would be the case again. Number Two followed four years later, after some medical assistance. (My friend had the opposite ‘oh, how the Universe does love to mock us’ experience: it having taken a while for her first to arrive, they started trying almost immediately for the second. Which is how she ended up with an 18 month toddler, and newborn twins.)

      – we assumed that our four year gap would be a bit of a chore, as the kids wouldn’t play properly together. The exact opposite has been true, and they are closer than almost all other kids we know – the gap has ensured there’s never any rivalry, antagonism or competitiveness, because Number One is always obviously older/ stronger/ cleverer/ taller/ more knowledgable. He’s the boss of operations, and Number Two amiably accepts her role as acolyte, benefitting from being included in the bigger kids’ fun. (They’re currently 14 and 10, so this so far only holds true for their childhoods – I expect changes as she gets into her teenage stride…) It also made it much easier for me to parent, as I effectively only had a single child for things like doing crafts, toddler gym or music classes, going to the supermarket, etc, so both have benefited from a ton of one-on-one attention.

      – if my parents had me assuming they’d get elder care, they’re bang out of luck: I now live in a different country, 6 thousand miles away from them. We’re enormously close, and I will do what I can with visits when/ if it becomes necessary, but realistically they’ll have to find a local solution for many of their day-to-day issues.

      Reply
  • GoCubsGo September 12, 2014, 12:41 pm

    Raising kids IS hard sometimes and you DO have to make sacrifices….just like riding a bike to work instead of driving can be, maintaining your own house/yard, fixing things yourself etc. The main takeaway for me of Mustachianism is getting out of your comfort zone and be willing to make some sacrifices for something you want or believe in. If you are on the fence about kids due to it being “hard”, I would say that’s kind of weak. I grew up with 4 brothers and we still see each other 3-4 days a week as adults (definitely colors my perspective). My wife is an only child and part of her draw to me was my large raucous family and enjoying the variety of being in household full of different outlooks, personalities and temperaments. You don’t need a huge brood but it’s something to consider both sides of it.

    Reply
  • Juan September 12, 2014, 2:15 pm

    My only brother and I are 13 months apart. Even being that close in age, we naturally gravitated towards other friends in our classes at school. We were close, but not the best friends many people think their children will be as they grow up. I don’t really understand how people can let so much time pass between children, and still think they are going to be buddies in their younger years. I chose to be child-free and there isn’t a day that goes by that I regret the decision. My brother has one child who is just finishing college, and he and his wife are now free to live their lives, without having to wait 5 more years for a second child to leave home.

    Reply
  • Rach September 12, 2014, 2:18 pm

    Hi MMM

    I really like your blog and appreciate you sharing all the knowledge and information you must painstakingly gather. After reading you blog I decided to rent an apartment 2 miles from work rather than going 18 miles away to a hipper/younger part of my locality. I also have avoided buying a car and I am trying to save 15k by the end of the year which is roughly 8 months living expenses (rents are really high in my area).

    A point of view that I think is important in deciding the number of children (though I admit I am not a parent) is that after the parents pass away the only child will no longer have any immediate family. I have two older siblings and my
    Mom always told us that you three shall be together helping each other when they (my parents) are gone. Granted the US culture is different and siblings are not as close after heading to college. Things are not as intimate as the Indian family I grew up in. So maybe that makes a difference.

    Personally I don’t think a spouse or even my own kids could compensate for my own brother or sister. They also have an immense impact on my sense of security and had a big hand in my upbringing since I was the youngest. Though in time my opinion may change after I change the 1000th potty stained nappy my weak olfactory system reaches breaking point. For now I am grateful to have siblings.

    Reply
  • Genevieve Hawkins September 12, 2014, 3:25 pm

    I really love that you looked at the pros and cons of your individual situation because it is ultimately an individual choice. I have two daughters (with two different dads–the first didn’t want the first, and definitely did not want anymore, even though I did. He came around and became a good papa though). Because our oldest spends a lot of time with her daddy, both of my daughters get to experience time as only children and time as siblings. I find its harder to raise our youngest as an “only child.” She misses her sister so much when she’s gone!
    Children are better in retrospect…so happy no one has really devolved into the whole eugenic economic thing. I did some math once and figured out you could give every four person family on Earth one acre of land for farming and have a 40 acre park in the middle of each square mile, only using the continent of Australia….just a matter of using technology for sustainable living…

    Reply
  • Alice September 12, 2014, 7:56 pm

    I read a of other people’s responses and I want to retract my earlier comment about people never regretting having one more kid. It is really a very individual family decision. I love having my kids and if my health permitted would have loved to have more.. but some people have a much harder time. I wish you well in whatever decision you make. Only children (I am one of them) can grow up to be kind and generous and normal without having to share everything all their childhood.

    Reply
  • space September 12, 2014, 9:41 pm

    I will simply say this:

    China tried this as national policy for 50+ years. Even they are backing off on it (rural families were allowed to have a second child a while back – city families were recently allowed if both parents were the only child). What does that say about the viability of this?

    Reply
    • SJmom September 12, 2014, 10:46 pm

      There are pros and cons of the one child policy. However, without the policy, the world will have more than seven billion people by now. Both of my parents were born in China, each has ten siblings, very few had made a contribution to the society when they are not educated, most had a really tough life. All my cousins have very tough life as well without education, working 12- 15 hours doing labor work each day. I was the lucky one with college degree and able to pursue my goals!

      Many educated Chinese all over greater China area only want one kid since they know how much work it takes and how expensive it costs to have more than one child. Life is not easy when you have to compete with billions, unless you are born with a silver spoon!!!

      Reply
    • Seth Bauer September 13, 2014, 12:28 pm

      It’s one thing for a one-child policy to be advanced as a good decision for individuals to make. It’s another very different thing for a government to impose a one-child policy on an entire population. I don’t think China’s oppressive policy says anything about the viability of individual people deciding of their own accord to have one child.

      Reply
      • SJmom September 14, 2014, 10:45 pm

        The one child policy is certainly not ideal and there are many problems derived from the policy. However, it has prevented 200-400 million births accordingly to various studies. For those who wanted to have more than one child, there were many exceptions/loopholes that they could have more than one.

        Here’s a different way of looking at the issue: Imagine if you are in charge of lifting a country of close to one billion people from poverty and need to provide them with education, jobs and other support, most are not educated and they want to have more children to support them. What would be your solutions?

        PS: The overpopulation has caused serious environmental issues and other problems in China and the world.

        Reply
        • Rick September 15, 2014, 9:54 am

          If I were in charge of lifting 1 billion people out of poverty, I would do the one thing that has been proven to lift 1 billion people out of poverty: decrease government control of the economy and expand the reach of free markets.

          Reply
        • Seth Bauer September 15, 2014, 4:42 pm

          SJMom,

          Your perspective on the policy is interesting because you obviously have a personal connection to it, which I do not.

          That said, your perspective is fundamentally flawed, in my opinion. I recognize that “fundamentally flawed” carries with it a hint of the pejorative, but that’s not my intent. I only use the term to drive home the point that I cannot accept the premise that the government should have any control over a decision as personal and fundamental to the human experience as the decision about how many children to have.

          It is clear that you don’t share my opinion, and that’s fine. But our difference of opinion on the premise changes the conversation. I do not care to debate the merits of the policy because, even if it’s the best policy in the world from an economic perspective and is responsible for lifting 1 billion out of poverty, I still view it as an unacceptable policy because it comes at the expense of what I view as a very basic freedom that all men and women should (and do, whether the government agrees or not) have.

          Reply
  • SJmom September 12, 2014, 9:53 pm

    My husband and I are on the same boat. We were planning to have two but ended up having one kid due to similar reasons. We are now grateful to have only one child, can afford quality life, spend more time with our kid and with each other, able to travel extensively, able to retire very soon. (two years if all goes well, in our mid. 40s)

    My ten year old insisted that he didn’t want any sibling as soon as he could talk. He has very clear reasons now: siblings are annoying, they always fight with you (that’s what he witnesses among his friends); kids are expensive, less resources for him and most of all: the planet is overpopulated :-)

    Reply
  • Kat September 12, 2014, 9:57 pm

    I had no idea until recently that people were criticized for having only one child. I know that people like me, who have no children, are often criticized or rather, pitied. Most of the time when people say something along the lines of “having a child/children is the only way to have the full human experience” they aren’t saying it as nicely as MMM. I’m aware that I might be missing out on the full human experience……but I just don’t really care. Billions of other people are having that full experience, so I’m assuming it won’t do the universe much harm if I muddle along with my little partial human experience:)
    The other day I heard someone say that “you’re not really a parent until you have two kids.” I guess there’s just no way to convince everybody that your experience is as authentic as theirs:)

    Reply
  • Teri September 12, 2014, 11:36 pm

    I would like to offer my biased opinions as a counselor, adoption social worker, mom of 3, and sibling to 13 (yes, 13). Please skip this if you don’t want to be challenged or informed.

    First, bravo, MMM for your willingness to share your experience as a father (and MRS MM as a mother) to an only child. We need more dialogue within our communities on all manner of socially and culturally relevant topics, and having children (or not) is just such an important and life-altering decision.

    My experiences as a counselor and adoption social worker have demonstrated to me the overwhelming importance of planning, thinking, and preparing before making the decision to have or adopt children. Effective parents are mature-minded individuals who have the skills, judgment, personal energy reserves, patience, and economic resources to fulfill this vital role in a child’s life. I see an endless parade of hurting teens and adults in my office daily whose parents were grossly lacking in one or more of these areas, or who are parents themselves and did not make informed decisions about bringing a child (or multiple children) into this world. “Informed decisions” is the key. Having one child or multiple children because you think babies are “fun,” because you “love” your spouse or SO, because your church told you that you have to procreate or can not use birth control or can not turn down sex with your spouse…you have to “submit”, because you didn’t prepare to use birth control and got pregnant on accident (some accident!), because all your friends are becoming parents, or because Hollywood baby bumps are all the rage is NOT making an informed decision. That is being ignorant. Not stupid, just ignorant. And guess who suffers? The ignorant and sleep-deprived parent(s) AND their kids.

    Raising kids is hard work! My thanks to MMM for acknowledging this fact and PUBLISHING IT. There are so many negatives about being a parent, and sleep deprivation is a very very small one. We need to educate our own children on the realities of being a parent, without making our kids feel guilty that they are in fact our kids. That’s a tough one for sure, but it needs to happen. All of my kids have heard me repeat multiple times to “not have kids until you can afford them!” (I am not a perfect parent, my kids are not perfect kids, but they weren’t teen-age parents either.) Do you know how many people (and I’m talking 20 and 30-somethings) willingly place their infant children in adoptive families because they don’t want the financial responsibility of raising a child? I applaud those birth moms for helping another family to become parents AND actually being responsible and informed enough to say, “Hey, I’m poor, and I can’t really afford to raise this child.” How many of us weren’t that informed when we became parents? (I realize that parenthood is NOT all about the money, but to ignore the fact that it takes a great deal of cash to raise a child is the cause of a great many problems in so many families…and a contributing cause to almost 25 percent of all kids in the USA under 18 years old having food insecurity, as in they do not know where their next meal is coming from…their parents are that poor).

    As far as jumbo families go, my 13 siblings and I were more or less taken care of, but almost NONE of us enjoyed our growing up years: when you divide the (upper middle class) economic and time resources (parental attention) between 14 kids, almost every one of us felt that there was never enough attention paid to any of us personally, and definitely not enough attention or finances paid to nurture our interests. I realize that there are many wonderful big families, and I am condemning anyone, just sharing my biased and also educated opinions and experience. I will, however, tell you that fewer and fewer adoption agencies are approving homestudies for larger families as research on early childhood development demonstrates the tremendous importance of healthy parental (or caregiver) attention in a child’s first three years of life. I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but there just is NOT enough parental attention to go around when you have multiple kids ages 3 and under in a family. You better have some money set aside for high quality child care in those early years or those multiple little kids might wind up in my office in a decade or so….Yes, I’m serious. You can’t provide enough parental attention in the early formative years when you have a dozen kids, can ya? NO. You really can’t.

    And if you bring up the argument that older kids can watch and help the younger kids, well I might go into orbit. The Duggar family is a phenomenon, but I soooo disagree with their philosophy as a social worker/therapist. ALL children deserve to have (quality and quantity) parental attention: older siblings are NOT a substitute for parental care or attention, and the older kids are also entitled to sufficient ONE-ON-ONE parental care themselves. Everyone loses when parents keep bringing kids into the world and make the older ones take care of the younger ones.

    In terms of adoption, did you know that in this country, there are RIGHT NOW over 100,000 kids in the foster care system who are legally free for adoption? Did you know that worldwide there are approx. 100 MILLION street kids who have no home or adults to care for them? If you are on the fence about having your own child, please consider adopting one of these precious and hurting children. Yes it will be tough, but if you want to have children without harming the planet adding more kids to it or having to deal with 9 months of pregnancy and the pain of childbirth (which really needs to be acknowledged as awful pain, because is hurts, people!!!), then adoption may be something about which to educate yourself and consider carefully.

    Whatever your future decisions, whatever your past choices (informed or stupid), please be kind to yourself and to your children, and to other people’s children too. It’s a hard job to parent, and it’s tough to be a kid, whether your an only child or a sibling. We need to exercise a great deal of loving-kindness in our interactions with others, and sometimes that means tough love too, as in not sugar-coating the reality of what is involved in becoming a parent.

    Thanks for considering my points of view. Great peace and love to you all.

    Reply
    • SJmom September 14, 2014, 11:52 pm

      Well said. Thank you for such honest perspective.

      Reply
    • 9 O' Clock Shadow September 15, 2014, 9:38 am

      Bravo to YOU Teri for your willingness to share your experience as a multi-child family member and a counselor. Sugar coating reality is as bad for the intellect as refined sugar is for the body, and it is equally bad to overly embitter the reailty of things too. So be kind, and be honest, as your last paragraph convincingly pleads:

      “Whatever your future decisions, whatever your past choices (informed or stupid), please be kind to yourself and to your children, and to other people’s children too. It’s a hard job to parent, and it’s tough to be a kid, whether your an only child or a sibling.”

      Reply
    • Naomi May 18, 2016, 1:20 pm

      I find your “some accident” comment extremely offensive as someone who fell pregnant on my 6th year of birth control. While our daughter was unplanned and we were 24 at her birth, we have no shortage of love, resources, enthusiasm, or creativity to care for her fully. Don’t shame all people who got pregnant on accident. Just because my daughter was unplanned doesn’t mean she is unwanted, unloved or uncared for.

      Reply
  • Sandy September 13, 2014, 2:13 am

    When I first started dating my husband, he brought up the subject of children and future wishes etc. I told him, in no uncertain language that I would never have childREN. I would love to have a child, but only the one. Having been shocked at the age of 5,5 with an addition to our family, I really didn’t want any of that for my own offspring.

    He pondered this, coming himself from a family of 4 kids and with the presumption that every woman would want at least 2 children. Well before we wed, he came to the conclusion that he could be happy with just one kid, or even non if life turned out that way.

    We have one and we are grateful that she’s thriving. Shortly after she was born, I scheduled an appointment at the hospital to ensure her remaining an only child. I’m really happy I did this. I never wanted more than one and I’ll not change my mind.

    I do love the suggestion of reading about only children. Our daughter is still a baby so we have enough time to read and learn. Thanks for the tip!

    Reply
  • JJ September 13, 2014, 6:53 am

    Just watched a single child friend bury his parents. I’d carefully plan for end of life for you and your spouse (so that it’s not just one man (your kid) trying to figure things out). This, to me, would be the most difficult thing about being an only child. Once your parents are gone, it’s just you. Sorry to be so morbid, but it is the one time that we all lean heavily on our siblings.

    Reply
    • to kid or not to kid...that is the question September 13, 2014, 11:01 am

      You raise a great point that struck a nerve. My 3 brothers, sister and myself lost our mom this year after her long and amazingly successful life came to an end. With all of us working together, the funeral and all the legal stuff that followed regarding her estate was no trouble at all. What a relief it was that not only had she planned carefully for her passing, but each of us was able to contribute to the organizational and legalistic aftermath – everything from writing the obituary to the funeral home details to the finalization of the estate. It certainly reduced the stress and strain on all of us and make the experience more bearable. Without my family of brothers and sister pulling together, it would not have been possible.

      Reply
    • Genevieve Hawkins September 13, 2014, 12:42 pm

      You make a good point, but this is why everybody’s circumstances are different, because everybody”s childhood experiences are different. I have seen large families that fought over their parents estate and ultimately fractured over it, sadly. My father just passed two months ago (mom is still alive and well), I just have one brother who was my best friend growing up and a sister who died at 13 months old. Before my second daughter was born I had a terror about what to do if my only daughter died before me, a how would I go on type of feeling. That and my closeness to my brother growing up made me sure that I wanted to have more than one child. I’d still like to have a third child but then I am so done! I can respect anybody’s conclusions though, as long as they’re happy…

      Reply
      • An September 13, 2014, 9:56 pm

        You’re absolutely correct that many families fight over the estate, but it seems to me that if the parent is willing to to communicate his or her wishes prior to their passing a majority of siblings will respect that decision. If a family fractures over an estate I would argue that they weren’t much of a close family before the estate was an issue.
        Assuming money is not an issue I would argue the support of siblings at the time of a parent passing is a huge support.

        Reply
    • Katherine September 14, 2014, 6:16 pm

      Didn’t he have a partner? Friends? Children? Cousins? Internet support groups? Coworkers? Surely him and his parents were not the only people living on a small island?

      Reply
  • Steve September 13, 2014, 8:39 am

    I was going to plug the book Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids, but an earlier commenter beat me to it. It’s a great injection of hard data into an emotional topic.

    Here one key fact that’s often lost in these debates: PARENTS HAVE ALMOST NO EFFECT ON THE WAY THEIR KIDS TURN OUT AS ADULTS. There’s a massive amount of empirical data backing up this claim, much of it gathered by researchers who initially tried to make the opposite case. It’s pointless to look only at correlations between parent behavior and child outcomes, because correlations can’t disentangle the effects of nature and nurture. But twin and adoption research controls for the effect of genes and isolates the effect of parenting itself. The upshot- there isn’t any effect! Not much of one, anyway. By adulthood, adopted kids have lost almost any resemblance to their adoptive parents, but their resemblance to their biological parents has actually grown.

    This is relevant to the family size decision, since that decision inevitably relies on cost-benefit analysis. Some of the costs are unavoidable: the lost sleep, the dirty diapers. But many of the other costs are ones that parents impose on themselves, because they make enormous sacrifices to raise their kids in the “ideal” way. This is where you run into the constant travel soccer chauffeuring, extra tutoring, etc. Once parents realize that the effects of these things are vanishingly small, they can quit doing them without guilt. And a more relaxed parenting style may make an additional kid seem more attractive.

    Reply
  • Mega September 13, 2014, 9:36 am

    This is a great topic, and I think that you have some truly excellent points. However, there are a couple of critical items that could change the calculation.

    1 – With two or more kids, there are no breaks. You cannot take turns taking care of the kid. This is by far the most stressful part of 2 + kids. (I have a 2.5 year old and a 6 month old). This also means you need to put your career development on hold for 4ish years.
    2 – With only one child, the biggest negative is losing your only child. While this is incredibly unlikely to happen, it can be completely devastating if it does. Essentially, I am saying don’t put all your eggs in one basket, spread the risk of catastrophic loss.

    I would also recommend adding a third factor in the chart – age difference between children. There is a huge difference between a 2 year and a 4 year difference in ages between kids. A 4 year old can help with almost everything, while a 2 year old still needs regular support.

    Thanks, and great job.

    Reply
  • Meri September 13, 2014, 9:43 am

    Dear Mr. MM,
    I’ve been reading your blog for almost a year and have been hoping you’d write about this. I have one child, a son the same age as yours. It’s been tough for me, wondering if I’ve made the right decision. My husband works FT and I work an 80% schedule, so not having to divide our time between two kids is perfect for us. We are a close family, our son seems to be a naturally happy person and he gets along well in the world.

    We’re the only people in our families and our circle of friends to have an only. It seems to me that people are so defensive about whatever choice they’ve made, it’s impossible to have any sort of discussion about it, so I’m extra glad you’re bringing it up here.

    I have one brother 12 years younger, so I have a taste of both ways. We happen to be very close, but as people have mentioned, I have friends who were/are not at all close with siblings, and some that are. I don’t think anyone can predict or guaranty closeness.

    The last thing I want is for us to be a burden on our son when we’re older, and I think a couple of things will help with that. First, we will always encourage him to be independent and support his choices. Second, with financial and other planning, I can’t imagine we will need his help financially or otherwise.

    Love your blog! I’m a latecomer to the MMM way of life, but working on it and this blog is a great inspiration for me!

    -Meri

    Reply
  • Elsa September 13, 2014, 10:51 am

    As a first born with an exceptionally close relationship with my younger sibling, I feel it is demeaning to consider a second child a ‘gift’ to your first. My parents had my brother because they wanted him, as a person, independent of me.

    We had good times and conflict, like all families, but I think it helped that as far back as I can remember we were individuals to our parents.

    I 100% agree that it is not about the number of children you have, it’s about what feels right and what makes you all the happiest.

    Reply
  • PR September 13, 2014, 10:58 am

    Great post! We’re almost at our 4th child, and it is a little chaotic at times! We’re well on our way to forming our own Bluegrass band haha!

    I agree with you though… all sorts of weird judgement going on no matter how many kids people choose to have. It is a personal decision, and I’m glad you found your number.

    Reply
  • Seth Bauer September 13, 2014, 11:15 am

    Two was right for me. Youngest is 9 months and I’m scheduled to get snipped next month!

    Definitely still struggling with the sleepless nights. The youngest is still eating in the middle of the night, while the oldest seems to have outgrown his sleeping through the night. At 2.5 years old, he’s adopted my bad habit of waking up and having trouble going back to sleep. I blame my issues on an active mind. (How’s that for rationalizing a negative as a positive?) Not sure what my son’s issue is! Maybe he’s got an active mind, too! :)

    Reply
  • Emilyngh September 13, 2014, 12:09 pm

    Wow! Thanks so much for this post! It is so close to our experience that I feel like I could have written it myself. We used to plan on 2 children. We prepared and planned and finally had our first (it took us 2 years to conceive), and while I love her dearly, it really was waaaay harder than I could’ve ever imagined.

    During her first year, the thought of a second gave me a panic attack. When she was around 1, things were getting a little better, and I thought it was time to continue on to plan number 2. I felt like if we were going to do it, it should be soon so that they were close in age, and I could get the horrible years over together without stretching them out too much. So, we started trying for a second. And then, about 6 mos later I read an article with research regarding how single children are just as happy. And it hit me: I did *not* want a second. I was doing it thinking it’d be better for our daughter, and partly because we were just following our original plan, and it hit me that we were allowed not to. And things would be just fine, actually better.

    And here we are about 2 years later. We are done having more children. Are able to give our daughter a great life, our planning on down-sizing our house, and are beginning to again feel like we have a nice balance of time together as a family and time for ourselves and own personal interests. So glad we really thought about the issue and realized we were “allowed” to do what was best for our family.

    Reply
  • Time and Money September 13, 2014, 10:17 pm

    “After all, it may seem somewhat illogical to voluntarily create a new being, and make such a big sacrifice to your own life to support it. Especially since there is no shortage of need in the world – why not help others instead of creating still more need?”

    Even a very logical person does not look at such a highly emotional decision to create a human being from this pespective. This is not the reason you don’t have kids.

    No one talks to their spouse and says,”honey, we can’t have kids. There are just too many in society right now. Need to hold off for the better of mankind.” You don’t have kids, or more kids, because of the time and money. Because you are afraid that your marriage, or yourself, will be stretched to thin due to the limited resources (time and money). You did mention your parents divorce due to this exact issue. I wish you would off explored that a little more. If we are all being honest, that detail got a disproportionately amount of space in the post.

    After having 2 kids I am completely ok with telling people that when they ask if we will have another. I could talk about the concerns I have about over population, the lack of sleep when they are young, the desire for my child to be an only child, but I would just being trying to throw you off the trail. Those are simply anecdotes.

    I love this blog, mainly for the honesty and overflowing optimism that underlies ever article, but this article danced around the heart of the issue a little bit. I write this comment at the risk of coming off unappreciative, but ironically, I am one of your most adamant followers. Great job as usual of giving something for everyone to chew on!

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache September 14, 2014, 6:34 am

      Thanks TM, but actually quite a few people do decide on the kids issue based at least in part on the effects on humankind and the environment. We’re all different in our decision making, but some of the more Spock-like among us try to use logic for almost everything. Even with virtually unlimited time and money, some of us choose fewer kids for that reason.

      This is not to say we’re not emotional beings – I decide to consume less of certain things (fossil fuel energy is an easy example) because it makes me FEEL like shit knowing that I am burning them up unnecessarily. And it feels good to understand a bit of science and use that to make decisions. Sometimes, the intellectual feeling of doing the right thing is even stronger than the hedonic feeling of extra kids, luxuries, doing a burnout in the 500 HP pickup truck, etc.

      Reply
      • Time and Money September 14, 2014, 10:13 pm

        I have reflected on your response and agree with what you are saying, but I think we are talking apples and oranges here. It certainly is logical AND feels good to not waste the worlds resources. Agreed on that.

        From strictly a logically standpoint, having any amount of children could be a waste of resources or it could not be. It depends on your opinion of the agricultural and technological advancements that these same children have created to deal with this problem historically. But that is a tiring conversation, and besides, we would be burying the lead.

        We are really not getting at why a man and woman decided too or not too have kids. Do you remember Good Will Hunting? Robin Williams character, jovial and somewhat sad but very at peace, is tasked with pealing back the onion on Matt Damon’s character, mathematic savant who would be an avid reader of this blog (like myself). Robin Williams eventually breaks Damon down at the end and gets to him on an emotional level that free’s Damon from being held back by the logical perspective he had used to make all of life’s big decisions.

        The decision to have children is made, and THEN the anecdotal things are added to that narrative whichever way you decided. For example, if you are like me and decide to stop after having two, I now will say that “I am saving the world resources, I get to spend more time with the ones I have, etc.” If I decided too have more, I would then jump on the, “my kids would love another sibling, I want to make sure someones there for me when I’m older, etc.” But if you left it at that and didn’t question me further, you would be missing a HUGE opportunity to get to know me on a much deeper level.

        Those are not the reasons a couple decides to embark on the amazing creation of a human being, they are just the sides to a main dish of something much more delicious. You touched on them in the post, but you didn’t dive in. Mainly your emotional feeling towards the reasons for your parents divorce and the possibility another child would compromise early retirement. I don’t mean this in a bad way, because these are the reasons that I don’t want to a have a third. I feel like you gave us a little snip of yourself, but there is more too this story MMM!

        Love,
        Card Carrying Republic Wireless Mustachian.

        Reply
      • Gena Kukartsev September 19, 2014, 4:35 pm

        MMM, did you research that extra kids are actually bad? From what I read, the overpopulation is currently a myth (it may be a real issue in principle but we are far away from that). Given that, we actually need more people, not less, because on average people are net positive. Think about it, we are progressing. It must mean that on average a person does more good than bad for the civilization.

        Reply
    • RetiredAt63 September 14, 2014, 3:24 pm

      My family size (1) was partly determined by environmental concerns. The other way to slow down population growth is to have longer generation times, which we also see happening. ZPG is still an issue, although it has fallen off the radar .

      From what I can tell, China’s big issue with the 1 child policy was that it was not compatible with social norms – sons were expected to care for elderly parents, so of course everyone wanted a son. I have several friends who adopted from China, all girls of course, and their children have grown up to be wonderful adults. Here I see adult daughters caring for elderly parents, not so much the sons, so we should all want a daughter, right?

      Reply
  • chris September 14, 2014, 4:28 am

    I am an only child, my DF was an only child and so was his father.
    When I was born my parents decided that one healthy kid is a blessing and enough to care for.
    I had lots of kids in the neighborhood to play with and my parents avoided carefully to spoil me ;-)
    DH has 4 siblings and, while I like them most of the time, their rivalry is obvious in many aspects.

    Reply
  • Genny September 14, 2014, 7:41 am

    As on only child, I really feel sadness now my parents are both gone…there is no one to share memories with. they were so wonderful and I loved them both so much. It was difficult being the only one to support them when they became ill but with help from others it was doable. It is my opinion that the majority of our joy in life comes from relationships, so I hope people focus on that rather than economics when making such a personal decision.

    Reply
  • Syed September 14, 2014, 3:57 pm

    Very thought provoking post and as the wife and I are discussing this very issue. We have a son who we love very much but is certainly a handful. My wife is starting her Master’s program and we are kicking around the idea of sticking with him only. Before we had him, we were set on 3 kids. Then after he was born we decided 2 would be enough. See a pattern here? Like yourselves we come from families with many siblings. It’s a constantly evolving situation but this has given some food for thought.

    Reply
  • Orngkat September 14, 2014, 4:36 pm

    Thirty one years ago, we had what nature decided would be our only child. She has grown into a wonderful, responsible human being who has a plethora of friends who are as close as the siblings she never had. We had a fantastic parenting experience and feel like it all worked out for the best. Absolutely no regrets about having an only but must admit we were often queried about when we would have another as if that is the normal course of action.

    Reply
  • GR September 14, 2014, 8:08 pm

    I’ve read and re-read this article and comments many many times over the last few days. This article hits me hard in multiple ways:

    1) We have a 3.5 yr old sweetheart. She is a nice kid with the occasional stubbornness. We’ve had the thought of going for a 2nd every now and then. Not serious till now but my daughter getting to be about 4 is making me think the age difference is perhaps at a nice spot. Long story short, I like us being a small family but the whole “companionship’ thing is making us think.

    2) Now onto the other reason why this article hits me hard. People are ignoring the fact that the “loneliness” felt by the kid will be much worse if he/she has a sibling with whom he/she was close for a long time but now feels estranged for some reason. I’ve an elder brother. I adore him, and respect him for doing a lot of things for me earlier in my life. But circumstances have strained our relationship a bit now. We still talk about once or twice a week but things don’t seem to be the same. We used to talk multiple times a day, at least once a day for the past several years.

    I now see myself as a this ungrateful younger brother who did somethings wrong to his elder brother. I love him and value his relation a lot to let it go. He and his wife are avoiding us. Sure, me and my wife had our share of things that we did not do right but we are willing to move forward but seems like they have given up on us entirely. It hurts me day and night, even in my sleep. I have a strong feeling my brother still likes me but he feels hurt and let down by the family. Long rant I know but the point is this incident has made be think maybe my kid is better off being the only child so there are no relation to worry about losing ! Does that make sense ? LOL

    Reply
  • Willis Montgomery I I I September 14, 2014, 8:59 pm

    For our sanity, for our marriage, for the planet, and for our dream of financial freedom, we had one and will have no more.

    Reply
  • mysticaltyger September 15, 2014, 12:23 pm

    The biggest problem I see with this post is that the middle and upper middle class have already figured out that one or no kids can lead to a good life. It’s the poor and working class who havnen’t figured this out yet or who don’t seem to care that having a kid when you don’t have money usually leads to a lousy life for you and your kid(s). And to make matters worse, they’re brining kids into the workd in unstable arrangements, such has by having kids out of wedlock and/or having them too young, as well as having a higher divorce rate when they do bother to marry. None of these things are good for kids, the parents, or for their finances. If we want to know why the income/wealth gap keeps growing, it’s at least partly becuase the middle class and up are having fewer kids and the poorer half of the population not only keeps having them, but is much more likely to have them out of wedlock than in the past. It seems like we’re on a runaway train to becoming a 3rd World country.

    Reply
  • Lilypad September 15, 2014, 5:57 pm

    I am the mother of an only child, now 13. It took medical intervention to have him in the first place so I was extremely grateful to have even one. I have heard many negative comments about having an only child over the years—yes, to my face. I have been told that only children are spoiled, lonely, etc. My son is none of these things. The only time he said he wanted a sibling, he expressed a desire for an OLDER brother, which I thought was so funny. I have an older sister. In fact, my mother told me that she had me so that my sister would not be an only child, because only children were so uncommon back in the late 60’s. Think about that for a moment. The only reason I was born was so that my sister would have a sibling. Well, the joke was on them because my sister never wanted anything to do with me unless she needed a punching bag. We’re still not close. I can’t imagine what fun lies ahead when my parents do require more attention from us. So in this case, having a sibling will definitely not make it easier for me.

    At the time my son was two or so, when most people would have had a second child, I saw that my friends who were moms of two or more spent their days pulling their kids off each other and refereeing fights. Ugh. That brought back too many bad memories. Of course we all make decisions based on our own childhood experiences and I knew that I could not handle it if one of the children abused the other as I had been.

    Additionally, my child has three neurological disorders and has been a “difficult” child from birth. I very quickly realized that even if I had wanted to have another, I didn’t have the bandwidth to take care of two. Taking care of the “first” one is so intense (he still requires a great deal more care than neuro-typically developing kids his age, and still has many sleep problems that affect my daily life too) that the second one would have been lost in the shuffle. I don’t understand people who think they have some God-given right to have multiple healthy children. Seeing friends blithely having their second or third or fourth seemingly without pausing to reflect on how lucky they were to have the healthy ones they have already just blows my mind. Being mother of a child with special needs has changed me tremendously. I don’t take anything for granted.

    Reply
    • Stan September 16, 2014, 7:55 am

      I can relate to your past. I have 2 older brothers that constantly picked on me and my mom was a stay at home mom who would yell at us and say she never wanted kids, then she had 2 more. I could have not had anything to do with her but now she is 83 I let her move into my home, and all her houseful of hording stuff she won’t look at, deal with, get rid of and she cries whenever I get rid of junk or try to make room to build a bedroom in my own basement. It has been over 2 years and she still won’t do any more than clean the kitchen and pack-rat stuff away so you can’t move. It is a slow process but my goal is this winter to get it done. She does have some good things but the majority of it is just stuff that someone else could use or it’s going to the dump.
      Thanks for reading this rant.

      Reply
  • Stan September 16, 2014, 7:47 am

    China tried this and it worked out so well for them.

    Reply
  • Guitarman September 16, 2014, 10:29 am

    Number five is on the way for us. We’re done after that. It has been a great ride so far.

    Reply
  • jasno September 16, 2014, 12:28 pm

    Children are not “planet-eating.” That is a ridiculous statement. A new human mind, thoughtful, capable, and creative is a planet-saving resource. You should have as many as you feel you can afford, and then one more. I think the Earth’s population will only fall in the next century as emerging nations improve conditions and education. There will be well more than enough for everyone.
    The only more ridiculous statement is “pets are our kids”. B’wahahaha!!! is all I can say to that.

    Reply
  • sara September 16, 2014, 1:05 pm

    Timely post. We have two little ones. My husband recently “pre-tired,” and I just work part-time, so I think our situation is similar to yours when you first retired.

    We mentioned the other day that you didn’t start blogging until your son was out of the craziness of those first few years and that we’d love to hear your perspective on those first few years with a small child, especially since you and your wife were mostly home (like us too). It is so rewarding, obviously, but maddening and exhausting occasionally, as well. Your introduction here made all of that a bit more relatable.

    Reply
  • Megan September 16, 2014, 1:45 pm

    I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have read this post. The timing couldn’t have been better to soothe my sleep-deprived conscience. My husband and I used to debate two vs. three kids (I told him I’d have the first two and he could have the third if he really wanted it). After 2.5 years of struggling and two late losses, we finally have our much-wanted baby who came small and early. As much as I adore her, I can’t even describe how difficult it is. I recognize that we are in the early stage (3+ months) and things will get better, but the entire process has been hell.

    Added to the normal challenges of having a new baby, the inexplicable health problems that led to the two losses were also present in this last pregnancy, leading to our baby spending time in the NICU upon her early birth. The thought of repeating that emotional gauntlet and risking having a baby even more premature scares me shitless. I may very well think differently a couple of years from now, but in this moment, one child sounds perfect. I am very grateful to MMM for talking openly about why they went that route and opening up the conversation in my own mind about being okay with that kind of decision. Thanks for the post.

    Reply
    • Lisa September 20, 2014, 3:33 pm

      Megan,

      My heart breaks for you. We struggled getting our first and then she was a 32 week preemie in the NICU for a month. It is such a trial, I agree. I thought we’d be a one child family and that was fine. Husband REALLY wanted a second and I told him if we waited until our daughter was out of diapers he was SOL. I fretted over having twins, having a second preemie, etc., but really thought that there was no way we could get pregnant with another before our daughter was out of diapers. SOOO, I learned that people can get pregnant from one encounter AND that the majority of my fears were unrealized. Having multiple children is the best of times and the worst of times. I love it when I see my kids play and work together; everything is perfect for a small period of time. The young years, however, are a trial. Good luck with your decision.

      Reply
  • Sophie September 16, 2014, 11:01 pm

    I think parenting young children is a little like climbing Mount Everest. Brave, adventurous souls try it because they’ve heard there’s magic in the climb. They try because they believe that finishing, or even attempting the climb are impressive accomplishments. They try because during the climb, if they allow themselves to pause and lift their eyes and minds from the pain and drudgery, the views are breathtaking. They try because even though it hurts and it’s hard, there are moments that make it worth the hard. These moments are so intense and unique that many people who reach the top start planning, almost immediately, to climb again. Even though any climber will tell you that most of the climb is treacherous, exhausting, killer. That they literally cried most of the way up.
    Glennon Doyle Melton

    Reply
  • Wendy September 17, 2014, 7:09 am

    In reading the posts about adoption. It is not a more cost effective venture. Skipping the baby years is not easier, it is harder for the adopted child and parents. Also with a natural born child there is a measure of comradarie and intuition that cannot be replaced when adopting.
    I was adopted at birth and was an only child until age ten, my parents adopted a sibling group of 3 ages 12,11,10 then when I was 13 my parents again adopted a sibling group of 2 ages 13,9. when you adopt older children there are many things that have to be paid for. There is the cost of hours in classes to help the parents with ways to assist and care for children that are adopted beause they have seen or been through things that no child should have to deal with, or by the cost of your stuff getting broken because of fits of rage from children that are coping with drastic life events, the cost of therapy sessions also medical problems are usually present because of the child’s poor nutrition during early development. Adopting Is a great gift for a child that could not be raised by birth parents. But there are always things even when adopted at birth that make it a more costly venture physically, emotionally and financially for all involved. if you are considering adoption. Please research and talk to adopted children or adults that were raised adopted.

    Reply
  • Sam September 17, 2014, 10:43 am

    For a data driven other side of this argument, read “Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent is Less Work and More Fun Than You Think” by Bryan Caplan. We stopped at 2, but it helps you stress out less at the very least.

    Reply
  • Justin September 17, 2014, 10:50 am

    Nature has a funny way of tricking parents into having more than one child. We have a 3 year old and a 6 month old. I can honestly say that I don’t remember much of the first year of my oldest daughter’s life at all and I was her primary caregiver. The combination of sleep deprivation and my mind’s natural tendency to block out difficult or trying times has completely erased all recollection. Even the wonderful milestones like her first steps, first solid foods….GONE. I have convinced myself that we are done at two kids but maybe we should record the baby screaming at the top of her lungs and play it back to ourselves every once in a while just so we don’t change my mind a few years down the road?

    Reply

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