Pros and cons of having a second child

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

Post by Augustus » Mon Jul 01, 2019 8:59 pm

Wife and I are thinking about another. Not sure if we want the hardship and additional expenses. Curious what other parents think? Our first child nearly ended in divorce, we both get cranky from lack of sleep and personal time. I'm not sure if I want to roll the dice on a second. Expenses to the tune of a few thousand a month, due to insane real estate costs + either lost income from wife staying home or daycare running $1400/mo.

Just thinking about the negatives has me leaning towards no. But I'm curious if other parents think it's worth it and why.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Pros and cons of having a second child

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Tue Jul 02, 2019 2:20 pm

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.

Cons:

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.

Pros:

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.

Peanut
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Re: Pros and cons of having a second child

Post by Peanut » Tue Jul 02, 2019 2:42 pm

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.

bigato
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Re: Pros and cons of having a second child

Post by bigato » Tue Jul 02, 2019 3:16 pm

If you have one more, you'll be doubling the likely impact that your descendents will have on a planet that is essentially ill due to too many humans being humans on earth. I have three siblings and I see no advantage on that. We rarely ever talk or do anything together anyway. They are very different from me, I would not choose them as close friends.

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Bankai
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Re: Pros and cons of having a second child

Post by Bankai » Tue Jul 02, 2019 3:31 pm

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 » Tue Jul 02, 2019 5:21 pm

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.

Toska2
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Re: Pros and cons of having a second child

Post by Toska2 » Tue Jul 02, 2019 6:20 pm

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.

Toska2
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Re: Pros and cons of having a second child

Post by Toska2 » Tue Jul 02, 2019 6:23 pm

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

RealPerson
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Re: Pros and cons of having a second child

Post by RealPerson » Tue Jul 02, 2019 7:51 pm

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.

Jason
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Re: Pros and cons of having a second child

Post by Jason » Wed Jul 03, 2019 7:52 am

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.

horsewoman
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Re: Pros and cons of having a second child

Post by horsewoman » Wed Jul 03, 2019 8:15 am

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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Lemur
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Re: Pros and cons of having a second child

Post by Lemur » Wed Jul 03, 2019 1:06 pm

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.

suomalainen
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Re: Pros and cons of having a second child

Post by suomalainen » Wed Jul 03, 2019 10:07 pm

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.

Augustus
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Re: Pros and cons of having a second child

Post by Augustus » Thu Jul 04, 2019 12:59 am

I think what I was looking for here was experience that I don't have. The viewpoints have been helpful, thanks for that.

This is probably the happiest my family has been, hence the thinking about doubling down. As I mentioned though, the adjustment after kid one nearly wrecked the marriage. Wife and I grew and adapted, and I think the relationship is stronger after weathering the storm. What gives me pause is whether the underlying problems were solved by our adapting, or if the circumstances changed because kid one is now more independent and we sleep well again. If we had a clone of kid one as she exists right now I think we'd be happy with another. If we go right back to everyone being miserable and end up divorced then I've taken a good situation and made it bad for everyone involved.

To loop back to the first sentence, I'm just not sure if it'll be a major life regret and an obvious in hindsight fail. Which is why I'm especially curious what parents with older children think. I don't think I'm missing any major concepts in my current decision to play it safe and stick with the current good situation, but the only way to find out is to make the decision, and once the decision is made the window of opportunity closes for good since we're near the end of child bearing years

bigato
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Re: Pros and cons of having a second child

Post by bigato » Thu Jul 04, 2019 3:48 am

Here's something else to consider when deciding. The memories of the pain and pleasure remembered by the people you are asking and also by yourself are not the same as what was experienced in real time at the moment. Daniel Kahneman explores this in depth with research backing it in his book "Fast and Slow", in the few last chapters. It's so unreliable that he posits that there are two person in you: the experiencing person, and the recordative person. Very worth it studying for this decision.

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Re: Pros and cons of having a second child

Post by ffj » Thu Jul 04, 2019 7:59 am

If you analyze it too much you won't do it, because of the risk involved and sacrifice for the next 20 years. It's a bit of a leap of faith.

I have two children, one in their twenties and the youngest just graduated high school and has turned eighteen, so technically I have two adult children, but that doesn't mean our financial obligations have ended, as college is in the works for the both of them.

My greatest fear before they were born is that they would be handicapped, either mentally or physically. Scared me shitless, to be honest. Thankfully, and I am truly thankful, both of them are completely normal so my experience is coming from that perspective.

It's not a big deal if you are prepared to take the responsibility. You have already learned how to be a parent with the first one, all of the equipment is already purchased, and when they start school more than likely it will be the same one. Most of the costs early on overlap, so it's not really that much more expensive to keep two children instead of one. Now some costs are doubled, both my kids needed braces for example, but the largest expense will be college should you decide to fund that for them. It's significant. Another issue is if they are of opposite sex, which mine are, and the need for private bedrooms early on. I literally added a second floor to my house to add another bedroom so everyone had a private space.

Time issues will matter, especially if they are involved with sports or extracurricular activities. You really have to come to a compromise with this one. For example, we told our son that we wouldn't be attending any away games when he played baseball. It was an incredible time sink and you have to keep your sanity. Some parents are insane and will sacrifice everything for their children, including their health, time, and money. Don't do that. It just spoils the child and makes you miserable, because the kid will not be appreciative whether you do it right or not until much later in life.

My overall point is that if you have the discipline for an ERE lifestyle, then raising a couple of kids isn't that much more of a stretch. Regarding finances, yes, your overall goal will be delayed, but still easily achievable if you stick to sound principles. I personally never wavered in my financial goals and used any difficulty as a challenge to have my cake and eat it too.

Regarding companionship, I think it's a good thing for the child to have someone to play with besides the parents, but I don't think it should be the sole reason to have another kid. Kids adapt to whatever their environment, and there is no reason a single child should have problems because they didn't have a brother or sister. Another issue is companionship between kids and their parents, especially once the parents get old. I'm not there yet, but I watch other people and this seems to work incredibly well or ends horribly, with my observations being that it is kind of a roll of the dice.

Good luck.

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