Often when I meet a couple with one child, the discussion of whether they should grow their family comes up. As the mom of five 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 common sense, 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 amonst 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 of 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 first-born 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 time-frame, childcare costs should be factored in. If you have two 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 four to five 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!
Last year, the cost for infant care at a center exceeded the annual tuition and fees to attend a public college in 35 states and D.C. The annual bill for providing care to a 4-year-old was higher than the yearly cost of public college in 19 states and D.C., according to the report by Child Care Aware of America.
The cost of center-based care for one child was higher than the annual median rent in 22 states and D.C., and the expense of child care for two children exceeded the cost of rent in all states, according to the report by Child Care Aware of America.
Census data released this year showed that food consumed at home cost $5,187 in 2009 for the average family of four. That means the average annual grocery budget of two four-person families combined would cost less than annual child care costs in some states.
USA Today parsed government data to find that the average household paid a record-breaking $1,419 for electricity in 2010. Annual infant care in Massachusetts last year was still more than eight times that amount.
At a price of $3.80 per gallon, the average American spends about $2,120.40 at the pump every year. Paying for gas over the last five years would have cost a person less than a year's worth of infant care in Massachusetts.
At its $9,900 suggested retail price, a new Nissan Versa is cheaper than the annual cost of infant care in 19 states and D.C.
Follow Jenna Em on Twitter: www.twitter.com/SnyMed