Should I Have a Second Child?

I am 38, my husband is 42. We have a 4 year old son. The last four years have been seriously challenging. My son has some medical issues (not life threatening, but requires lots of time with doctors and a lot of sleep deprivation for his parents). He is also has challenging behavior issues, which we are working on with the help of his pediatrician and most likely some counseling. Your previous posts on the challenges (the reality) of parenting really resonated with me.

Given the challenges that you have outlined in your previous posts..I often wonder why people have more than one kid. The only reason I am even considering another child is to give my child a sibling. What do you think? Should we try for another child?

9 replies
  1. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    The most common reason people have a second child is to have a sibling for their first child. Time magazine has an article about this exact subject this week, titled Playing Favorites. Here’s the link:,9171,2094371,00.html

    There is no evidence that kids make you happy. And there is evidence that kids make marriages less happy. Here’s the Time magazine article on that topic: Does Fatherhood Make You Happy?,9171,1202940,00.html

    Finally, for my last link to Time magazine – here’s the cover article about how there is a trend to have just one kid, and being an only child is fine for a kid. Debunking the Myths of Only Children:,9171,2002530,00.html

    Two kids are way, way more than twice as difficult as one kid. In general I find that parents can pretty much go on living their adult life when there is one kid. With two kids, the parents life starts to completely revolve around the kid. And example of this is going out to eat: Going out to eat with a baby is manageable. Going out to eat with a baby and a toddler will be too much trouble to be worth it — it’s easier to stay home and eat.

    Final answer: If you can stomach it, don’t have another kid. But having kids is clearly not rational. Sometimes we just do it anyway.


  2. Joselle Palacios
    Joselle Palacios says:

    I’ll add my perspective as an only child. I’m fine. I get along well with people, I’m not shy or a brat, I was always very mature as a child and comfortable around adults (and kids), I’ll take care of my mom when she’s old, and I can assure you, any of my flaws have nothing to do with me having no siblings! You don’t need siblings. My husband and his brother get along but are completely different people. I can’t believe they share genetic material. I’ve also seen many people be estranged from their siblings and hating them. And yes, I’ve seen people be best friends with their siblings, too. It’s a total crapshoot, like everything else in life. If your son already requires so much attention, another sibling will just take that attention away from him. If you really want another kid, I understand. I want more than one kid, too. But if you’re fine with one and would only be having a second for him, don’t bother. Only kids will be fine. And you might enjoy parenting more with just one.

  3. Jennifer Soodek
    Jennifer Soodek says:

    An important consideration:
    Not all siblings end up having positive and constructive relationships. The decision to have another child should be based on what the parents truly want. Two is harder than one, three is harder than two, but that is not the issue. Parent’s have to WANT another child, because if you have one, and your really didn’t want to; you are not doing the next born any favors.

  4. Marie-Eve
    Marie-Eve says:

    I have twins of 3 year old and I’m considering having one more in a few years – I’m not settle either because I want to offer them the best and still have time for me.

    My advice is think about you and the child, if you want him in your life, and if he’d by happy to be in your family and have the chance to live a good life.

    Siblings play an important part, but we can all grow apart. Studies show that people with kids are not happier than others, maybe a little less because generally we have less freedom and that parents tend to be happier when they live home. I know my life revolves around my kids a lot, I am a work-at-home mom, but I enjoy it so it’s up to everyone to know what they love. Anyways studies also say that relationships are important, one of our basic needs and having a close family provides that.

    You could wait a little to figure it out and if necessary, adopt if you decide to go for another child.

    Also, one of the best question I read on the internet you could consider is : Do you feel there’s someone missing in your house?

    Hope it helped,


  5. Cheryl
    Cheryl says:

    As a grandmother of 3 gorgeous grandchildren, my reasoning for having more than one child is a little different. If you are any race other than Hispanic, you owe it to this country to have more children. Okay now that you think I am a racist, let me explain. Hispanics have a different philosophy about family. They welcome as many children as possible into their family. They also do not view education as a priority, the way white, Asian and Indian cultures do. If you don’t mind that this country will be mainly in Hispanic hands in the few decades, then continue to have only one child. If however, you want this country to continue to be superior in technology, business, education and any other important aspect of our life, and you are middle class Americans, you need to have additional children. I worked as a birth assistant for many years and finally gave it up when I realized my state was being overrun with under employed (think welfare), under educated, non-English speaking people. Hard to believe, but in this day and age it is patriotic to have many children. And no, I am not a Republican.

  6. Joselle
    Joselle says:

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but you’re an idiot. I’m Puerto Rican, an Ivy Leaguer and an only child. I’m pretty sure I’ve read more books in one week than you have in 10 years. Dear lord. Why am I even responding to such a nincompoop? You WANT someone to get angry at you. Ah, the internets and bigots: perfect together.

  7. Cheryl
    Cheryl says:

    Wow Joselle. At least when Penelope puts people down she does it in a succinct way. You are just rude. And no, I doubt you have read more books than I have. I have BA in Organization Development and a Masters in Information Technology Management. My remarks were meant to spur comment not get the worst of women to come out. Sorry if the truth hurts for you. Hispanics DO have a different way of looking at life.

  8. Will King
    Will King says:

    I’m 40 now with two teenagers (a girl, 16 and a boy, 13) I long since discovered that one child wasn’t enough, but two was far too many. Penelope hits the nail on the head – two children aren’t simply twice the work of one child – sibling dynamics are a complex, ever-changing and you, as a parent, have to be on top of that. (I have Asperger’s, my son has it – the bonus for my son is that I can explain the lessons to him that I learned the hard way)
    In my 20’s – I had the energy to do that – now that I’m 40 (and a single dad) – young children are simply out of the picture – my teens still run my ragged (despite the fact that they’re good kids) and I am focusing on other things – I’m military and in a great position, but eventually, i’m getting out, and when I do I will have to take a pay cut and start over – no big deal, my children are mostly self-sufficient now, and by the time I’m switching careers again, I will have the time to devote 100% to my work.
    at 38 – you will be in your mid 50’s, dealing with teenagers and a career at the same time – not a good place to be.
    Last, but not least – having the problems you did with the first child probably tested your relationship – having a second child is very likely to kill it if there’s still problems between you and your spouse.

  9. Cathy0
    Cathy0 says:

    I agree with Marie-Eve’s comment – ask yourself – is someone missing?
    I always wanted two kids – but when my second child was handed to me at birth I had an overwhelming feeling that I wasn’t done yet. I put this down to hormones and dismissed it.
    But over the next six months I kept having that nagging feeling that ‘someone was missing’.
    I suggest you look at it this way:
    If you are thinking of having a second child because you feel you ‘should’, or to give your child a sibling, or any other sensible, logical reason, I wouldn’t do it.
    If you are thinking of having a second child because you feel there’s a member of your family still to come, and the idea won’t go away despite all the downsides (many of which you have listed above)…then I would seriously consider it.
    Perhaps a counsellor may be able to help – see if there’s one at your local women’s hospital or health centre.
    When I had my third child I knew – my family was complete.
    There’s no denying the downside of more kids – but if having kids was a logical choice no one would ever do it.
    Good luck with your choice.

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