Deciding whether or not to have a second child can be agonizing. Two children is the norm. Yet more and more couples are stopping with one. How can you determine what’s best for you?
Here are some tips for making one of life’s biggest decisions:
*Consult your partner. Your spouse’s insights may help with your own thought process. It’s also important to understand each other’s concerns. Hearing my husband’s fear that another child would stress our marriage, I kept date night on the agenda after our second baby arrived.
*Don’t rush. Having children who are three years or less apart in age is hard on parents early on. If you’ve just had your first and aren’t racing the biological clock, take a breather. Some of the happiest parents have children who are widely spaced.
*Weigh the sibling factor. Providing a sibling for your firstborn is not a sufficient reason for having another baby. Not all siblings get along, and singletons do fine. You need to want to raise another child. If you want a playmate, arrange a playdate.
*Visualize life with two. With one child you can hang on to your adult life. Two puts you firmly in the kiddie world. Expect dinners at the pizza restaurant, not the bistro. Prepare to double the sick days, but also double the fun, especially as your kids grow and play together.
*Visualize life with one. You get lots of time together with an only child. You’re also the default entertainment. Count on enjoying a close, special relationship, and playing a lot of Candyland.
*Think ahead. Okay, so you want another baby. But do you want another teenager? Or are you just trying to preserve the baby stage of parenthood, which passes no matter how many kids you have?
*Consider your resources. The second child can strain you financially, emotionally and physically. But you’ll also grow to meet the challenges and realize how much you learned the first time around.
*Reframe the question. How would you feel upon learning that you couldn’t have another child? Sad? Relieved? Listen to your first reaction to this question.
*Make a choice. Decisions are hard, but empowering. If you can’t decide, consult a therapist. Therapy can be especially helpful if you and your partner disagree on whether or not to have a second baby. Recognize that stopping with one child is a choice too.
*Revisit your decision. Asked whether I wanted a second when my first was a baby I answered, “No way!” A year later I’d decided to go for it. Everything can look different once your little one sleeps through the night. Rest can make you eager to have another, or determined to stop with one!