Pros and cons of having a second child

How to explain ERE, arranging family matters
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Re: Pros and cons of having a second child

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

Well, I got lucky on my second roll and ended up with a child who was once, somewhat inappropriately, described as a "perfect angel" at a parent/teacher conference, so that might color my recommendations.


1) In retrospect, one huge expense of having a second child of a different gender was that in our market, we were basically forced to buy a house in order to get 3 bedrooms when our kids approached school-age. Then that started an ever-compounding roll of additional expenses related to repairs, commuting, utilities etc.

2) When you only have one child you are pretty well able to maintain some semblance of your previous identity as a single person and/or married couple with parenting just added on as a plus. When you have two kids at home, your central identity becomes "family." If you also have a career and a commute and a less than super-supportive partner, you may find yourself, as I did, having fantasies about forever locking yourself into a Woman's Restroom stall at some anonymous pull-off from I-80, simply because you had no responsibilities to fulfill while in there.


1) Your child will have the great benefit of a sibling. MMV, but one of the reasons I chose to have a second child was that by age 2 I knew my DS30 was going to be an extreme introvert who might need somebody in his life who invites him to Thanksgiving when he is 64, and I am maybe dead. My DD28 is also an introvert, but much less extreme, so worked out just as I planned. Also, I was so madly infatuated with my infant son, I thought second child might help redirect or lessen my attention, and I was right about that too. As adults, I see each of my kids about once a month, and they hang out with each other at about that frequency too, and I think we are all happy with that. Which brings me to...

2) Having adult kids you can talk to over lunch who sometimes even pick up the bill :lol: is great. The demanding parenting years actually don't last forever, even though 20 years might seem like forever when you are 28. Most of us will experience more post-parenting adult year than parenting adult years or pre-parenting adult years. Also, if you only have 1 kid, given current trends, you will really cut down the likelihood of ever being a grandparent or a great-grand-parent or a great-great-grandparent. So, you should definitely take 40 years future you into account as well as 10 years future you.

3) Parenting two different individuals will cause you to chill out on nature vs. nurture, because you will see so clearly that they were who they are from the moment they popped out into the light, but you will love both, or all of them, with the same rough, tender force.

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Re: Pros and cons of having a second child

Post by Peanut »

It took me a while to decide on having #2. We were both perfectly happy with 1. Ultimately I fell into the camp of MMM, actually, who once wrote that the second is a gift to the first. He didn’t give that gift but I decided I wanted to. Once she was here of course I fell in love with her for who she is, but initially it was really about the role she would fulfill of sibling.

You often read people who say sibling relationships are difficult and many people are not close with their sibs. But that’s true of many relationships. Maybe you can’t stand your mom or dad sometimes but would you rather have not had a mom or dad? Also, in your own family do you think you would likely foster a dysfunctional sibling relationship between your kids?

I have a brother and while we’re not close just bc we’re quite different I still love him dearly and shared my childhood with him. I was a bit surprised how excited he was when I had kids and bc I have a sib my kids now have that uncle relationship which is v nice too.

From experience I think it is easier to deal with the death of your parents if you have a sibling. It was so traumatic when my father died unexpectedly and left just my mom and me and my brother. The family shrunk so dramatically in that moment and I wished for the first time that I had more siblings. It was surprising but quite revealing to me.

Just being able to commiserate over your parents’ insanity (as all parents appear idiosyncratically nutty to their kids) with a sib is important too. The only child often has no one to mediate the fraught parent-child relationship through.

Of course babies are difficult but you are able to enjoy it more bc you have a better handle on things. And it is fun to share the experience with your first child especially if s/he is a little older like 3-5. (I read somewhere that children 7 and older have an established only child mentality/personality whatever that means even if they get a sibling.) And once the baby turns 2+ the kids can entertain themselves, which is adorable to watch. Also not having to always be the playmate for your only child is great and better for their development I think. And these days parents are encouraged to give so much attention to their kids. Too much really, and more children works to temper that.

If I think about the only children I’ve known I notice none of them who had kids had just one.

The additional money needed is real esp for college. For us the sacrifices are not too difficult... so far.

The big downside that still registers with me was climate change and bringing kids into this world. (The situation changed in terms of a more terrible outlook between 1 and 2.) So dealing with that times 2 is very challenging for me. Daily life however is the happiest I’ve ever been.

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Re: Pros and cons of having a second child

Post by Bankai »

I don't have kids because I don't want to, but I don't think you should base your decision on any environmental/save the planet etc. concerns. It's not like one additional child and their lifetime consumption is going to make any difference with the population estimated to peak at c. 10b. But, if your first kid is already, say, 2yo and it will take another 2 years for the second one to be born, and they will both leave home when they're 17, that's 13 years of doubling the effort/time/energy required and an additional 4 single-effort years on top of that... sounds like a lot. Also, if you think it will be easier the second time, it won't - all my friends with 2+ confirm second child at least doubles the effort/stress.

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Re: Pros and cons of having a second child

Post by jacob »

Just to add a risk-point to 7wb5's list.

While adding a second (or a third) child can be a wonderful complement to the existing family dynamics, it's certainly not unseen or unheard of that it could also risk introducing family dysfunctions. The social dynamics of more people is combinatorially harder to deal with. One child can be treated approximately like an individual in orbit around the parents (a couple). This can only go wrong if the child manages to set the parents against each other (or the parents do it to themselves). With 2 or more children, the internecine potential goes up. Your could have two children against the third or against each other; siding or changing behavior depending on which parent is present etc. A veritable shitshow that could take up decades of your life/emotional energy. If ... and I'm not saying that it does but I'm not saying it doesn't either ... things go south, this is a Kegan5 level problem which is something 99% are ill-equipped to resolve amicably. More typically, the family will fracture and some will be estranged from others. Not saying it's common, but not entirely uncommon either. Just see some of the journals here.

TL;DR - Just like parents can divorce over incompatibilities, so can siblings effectively "divorce" each other, as well as children their parents.

Note, this is probably not something one has to deal with before the children are adults or at least old teenagers, but I think young parents often forget or at least seem to ignore that they're on the hook for their offspring for many many decades.

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Re: Pros and cons of having a second child

Post by Toska2 »

So I'm from one of five and my parents are from 7 and 11 children. At this point its a sizable dynasty (600+ within 50 miles). I read the Fourth Turning, seeing and feeling the stark differences between generations makes me wary of giving advice.

However, as a generalization, two siblings no more than four years apart or three siblings six years apart do best, I say best, I mean at being human. Unstanding, empathy, boundaries, intelligence, and sense of community are my standards.

I have no children (damn intj-ness) but I speak weekly to my siblings.

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Re: Pros and cons of having a second child

Post by Toska2 »

Oh five is too much :(. From my experience it implies a wanting of mouldable clones and not raising children into healthy adults.

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Re: Pros and cons of having a second child

Post by RealPerson »

To weigh in on more of the cons:
Parenting may last much longer than 20 years: we have a very old uncle who is still having to parent a 60 y/o offspring who really never grew up (not due to a bad upbringing AFAICT). Thankfully his other child is a very mature adult. I could write pages about that situation.

What 7W5 said about keeping your individual or couple's personality is very true. My/our life was still pretty much our own with one child. With the second child it was pretty much gone. We mostly became parents instead of remaining ourselves. ERE was fantastic to create the space to reinvent/reconstruct ourselves.

Economically, a second child changes everything. Not just college, but with 2 children the couple of essentially committing to a stay home parent. Unless you hire someone to raise your kids, but then why have them? That can create resentment if the stay home parent doesn't really want to stay home, or the second child is much less fun to be with than the first.

Sorry to just write about cons: the parenting scars have not yet healed.


Re: Pros and cons of having a second child

Post by Jason »

As a second child in a family that should have stopped at one, if you have any hesitation on the issue, don't have the second. Because your at-best-ambiguous feelings will be transmitted to the child and he will suffer because of it. Now, I'm not doing this as a woe is me type of thing, I'm just stating the obvious. But it does explains things now that I write this. Christ, what the fuck. I now got this shit on the table and I don't have therapy until next Tuesday.

Anyways, I once asked my father why he had two children and he said "So we can all sit comfortably in a restaurant booth." He meant it. Now, let's say your child asks the same questions and you say "Well, I was waffling on the issue but I took a poll on an internet forum and they seemed to think it was a good idea." I mean that's not exactly confidence inspiring to a child ruminating on his place in the family.

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Re: Pros and cons of having a second child

Post by horsewoman »

7wannabe5 said a lot of what I would have said on the con side!

I have one daughter (11) and by now I'm very happy that my husband absolutely refused a second child. I have a great relationship with my siblings so I always had vague imagenings of 2 or 3 kids. Our daughter had a rough start and my husband had to pick up a lot of slack in the first years, that spoiled the experience for us somewhat.

Today I see my friends/cousins with more than one child struggle - daycare, money worries, our unhealthy school system screwing up the kids, staying in bad relationships because divorce is too expensive with 2 small kids...

We can afford sending our daughter to an excellent (but expensive!) private Montessori school, and we both have still time to be ourselves, not just parents. While I'm sad that my daughter will not have such great siblings like I do, I'm too selfish to have another. OTOH my DH and his sister hate their respective guts, so you never know how that turns out.

@Augustus if your first ended almost in divorce (and I can totally relate to that!) I'd be wary to have another!

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Re: Pros and cons of having a second child

Post by Lemur »

Spouse and I are quickly falling into the one and done camp. We both want to retire early and may do so in her home country...with one child this is easy to facilitate. Especially when it comes to schooling costs (potential global schooling?) and travel back to the motherland (USA). With two kids....a lot of plans, ideas, paths get constricted and costs raise substantially. Additionally, with my 40+ hour job and commute and my wife's home business, one of us will take an income hit too should we have another [most likely it would be my spouse; turns out she really enjoys making money.]

Speaking of family dysfunction...more is certainly not always merrier and a big factor in why I like just having one child. I was one of 5, the family dynamics and dysfunction could have had their own dark sitcom. For long reasons that would take a novel to write, my family is split up between team mom vs team dad while 2 of us are mediators. Yep its screwed up haha. My spouse is 1 of 9....she also is in the less is better camp thankfully.

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Re: Pros and cons of having a second child

Post by suomalainen »

I bet you can (correctly) assume my position, but it falls somewhere near @jace's. If you're looking for confirmation bias, I can surely give you that in spades. But, to try to be helpful rather than spewing my anti-child venom, I will say that the real point is that having a second child is NOT like getting a dog. Fuck this pro/con list. It's not a goddamn accessory. It's never "worth it". You're not making a trade - risk for reward (it's all risk). You are simply making a commitment to "cut out a piece of your heart and have it walk around in another person's body". You will love (in the service connotation) that child for the rest of your life. It's 20 years of full-time commitment followed by a lifetime of at least part-time commitment, and if things spiral, it will be full-time for life. What if it has downs or CP, gets paralyzed, etc? If you WANT a child now, you will likely push through the hard times without too much resentment. If you don't want or are ambivalent about having a child now, you will likely have a harder time. The only relevant question is whether you want to selflessly love a human being that you deliberately created, sacrificing your time, your energy, your money, possibly your marriage and possibly your sanity (for at least brief periods of time) all for the benefit of this human that owes you nothing in return.

But yeah, sure, go for it, I'm sure it'll all work out swell.

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Re: Pros and cons of having a second child

Post by fiby41 »

How to raise a large family and be ERE? viewtopic.php?t=9995

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Re: Pros and cons of having a second child

Post by Frita »

Having twins is easier than just one as they entertain each other. (After my daughter died, living us with one preschooler, we learned this.) Anyway, I am in the “Don’t have kids unless you are 100% sure” camp. You don’t get to pick if your kid has medical issues and/or other special needs which can completely dictate your life situation. I know people in their 80s still caring for offspring in their 60s with disabilities.

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Re: Pros and cons of having a second child

Post by pukingRainbows »

For kids, I found going from 0 to 1was a huge and punishing shift for myself and my wife while in contrast, going from 1 to 2 was much easier as most of the groundwork had already been done. Our schedule just got busier managing two kids.

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Re: Pros and cons of having a second child

Post by flying_pan »

I don't have any children, we are thinking about having 1.

But I was growing up with my sister, she was ~2 years older than me, and in general our family is good, supportive, etc (to a certain degree). However, we did not like each other with my sister until I became ~14; it softened a bit after my 10, but the first decade was a hell. She broke my leg accidentally when I was a baby, we fought a lot (with actual injuries, I still have visible stitches), and did not get along at all!

I think if you were to ask my parents about me when I was ~10 they would say that it was a mistake. The interesting part is that now we have great relationship and talk/visit each other often, but I can easily see how it could continue to be a hostile situation and just stay like that forever. I think any human relationship is a gamble and you can't just rationalize that it would improve QoL for the first child.

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