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Having More Kids: Do We Decide the Duggars' Way?

Earlier this week, the Duggars -- that's Jim Bob and Michelle of TLC's "18 Kids and Counting" -- announced that they are expecting their 19th child. Yes, I said 19, a number that makes me think the Duggars are trying to turn into the family depicted in this video. (If you're not familiar with the clip, skip ahead to the 30-second mark and you'll see what I mean.)

The fact that the Duggars have happily welcomed enough children to populate the starting line-ups for almost four NBA basketball teams is, depending on your perspective, admirable, irresponsible or just flat-out nuts. But it got me thinking about a specific question: how do you know when it's the right time to expand your family?

That subject came up during a recent brunch I shared with some longtime girlfriends, all of us moms. (And no, for the record, none of these ladies are named Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte or Samantha.) One friend mentioned that she still could not decide whether to try for a second child, and that she felt silly for struggling so much with the decision. The rest of us immediately insisted that she's not silly at all, that deciding whether to embark on parenthood -- especially after you've done it once and can't plead ignorance to all the challenges it entails -- is a really tough call to make.

Some people have always known they wanted exactly six children, or three, or one. But the rest of us may not be sure. So how do you decide? Flip a coin? Stop using birth control and let God/fate/luck decide? Ask Jeeves? Or sign on to star in a TLC reality show that requires you to keep cranking out kids?

Obviously, our bodies, household budgets and/or the bureaucracy of the adoption process sometimes make the call for us. But putting that aside, I'm curious to hear what readers have to say on this subject. What made you decide to add to your brood or, on the flip side, realize that your current family size was already just right?

--Jen Chaney

By Jen Chaney |  September 3, 2009; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Babies
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Comments


Having More Kids: Do We Decide the Duggars Way?

Jen, there is an apostrophe missing in the above.

I don't give a rat's a$s how the Duggars make any of their decisions.

Posted by: jezebel3 | September 3, 2009 7:32 AM | Report abuse

Before we had kids, I always said I wanted two and my husband said he might want three.

After we had our first child, who in the first year had 10 ear infections, acid reflux, several bouts of rotavirus, a few fever viruses, and a leukemia scare (which turned out to be false but necessitated 3 visits to specialists at Children's Hospital), I said that maybe I was OK with having just one child and my husband said he definitely wanted no more than two.

Ultimately we decided to have a second child because we both have siblings and we wanted our oldest child to have a sibling as well.

Thankfully, our second child has not had nearly as many health issues as our first.

I have seen with some people I know that if you wait too long, the decision will be made for you because you will have fertility issues. Just because you have successfully had one child doesn't mean you will have no problem having a second one since fertility drops off dramatically at the age of 38. So for any of you struggling with the decision whether to have another child right now, keep that in mind.

Posted by: StatsMom | September 3, 2009 8:01 AM | Report abuse

Fixed. Thanks for the catch.

Posted by: Nancy_Kerr | September 3, 2009 8:02 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: jezebel3 | September 3, 2009 8:17 AM | Report abuse

We debated for quite a while about having a 3rd. In the end we decided we would like one more child and got two! Our last was a surprise because I was on birth control.

On good days they all get along well and it's a delight. We have fun in our house of crazy girls and I love to see their relationships with each other grow. It's the bad days that have cemented my decision not to have more kids. When there are 5 kids who need to be in 5 places, they are bickering and fighting or not listening, I reach my limits. I know that I can't handle any more. The closer my youngest gets to school-age the more I realize that I am ready to go back to focusing a little more on my needs and my career. The glimmers of that life I get as they grow older help me to realize that while I love my children, I am happy with my family as it is.

Posted by: thosewilsongirls | September 3, 2009 8:22 AM | Report abuse

I have to say, we struggle with the decision of when to have another. There is no "right moment" so we're focusing on when we'll be the most financially stable. If something happens between now and then, we'll deal with it.

Posted by: CTJM | September 3, 2009 8:34 AM | Report abuse

Jen, I can't take your question seriously because you opened you silly article with a slam against the Duggars for being Hill-billy bumpkins that can't feed their children, and that couldn't be farther from the truth. I'm not sure if you are familiar with their finances but they are huge advocates of paying with cash and accumulating no debt, not even a mortgage. I suspect if we all lived by those rules we'd be able to have as many children as we'd like and not be wringing our hands over a ladies luncheon over the possibility of a 2nd.

Posted by: cheekymonkey | September 3, 2009 8:34 AM | Report abuse

I have to agree that making the decision to have a second was the hardest decision we've had to make after a really hard time with the first. It came down to wanting our son to have a sibling and we'll just have to deal if we get another difficult baby. It's nice to hear that we weren't the only ones having a hard time deciding....

Posted by: KDGM | September 3, 2009 8:52 AM | Report abuse

I agree with cheekymonkey-the Duggars have earned the right by being successful and financially responsible to have as many kids as they want. But I am just waiting for the environmentalists to start chirping again about overpopulation...

Posted by: sunflower571 | September 3, 2009 9:08 AM | Report abuse

We decided that the sibling reason was not a good enough reason to have another child. We love our daughter and have decided to commit all of our love and attention to her. Also, we are selfish. My husband and I were together for 10 years before we had a child so we want to make sure we continue the commitment to our relationship. We also want to be financially smart. We have a modest family income and a small home in lovely Del Ray. We can't afford a larger home in that neighborhood.

Posted by: mediajunky | September 3, 2009 9:31 AM | Report abuse

We're probably not representative of the "normal" family. First big consideration was that DD was hard to handle, high energy, uber-sensitive, tantrum-prone, etc. For almost 3 yrs, even the thought of adding in another baby was enough to make my head explode. Then, once she started to outgrow the worst of it, we still had to think about our fertility issues. After two miscarriages before DD, it could never be a relatively simple "hey, let's have another!" Deciding to try meant lots of doctors and the ever-present high risk of losing more babies.

In the end, though, the miscarriages were probably also the thing that pushed me to try, because our family still felt incomplete. I thought about the babies we had lost, what they would have been like. Especially the second; we knew he had been a boy, and there was always this little niggling wonder about what he would have been like. Ultimately, we decided to try.

We did have one miscarriage, then took over a year off to get resettled when DH got laid off and we moved cross-country. Again, more soul-searching, and I ultimately decided that I was strong enough for one more try. We totally lucked out and ended up with DS.

So in the end, it was just a blind leap of faith. Really, a lot of my own thinking now is after-the-fact rationalization; at the time, I didn't even realize I was hoping for a boy until I burst into tears when I saw the little mini-weiner at the ultrasound.

But we also knew before we even had DS that we were D.O.N.E., regardless of the outcome; when I said one more try, I truly meant one more try, period, so I steeled myself for that, then gave myself permission to stop and move on. Ending up with two great kids was way more than I had thought possible 5 yrs before; asking for more would have seemed greedy, like pressing my luck.

But even more than that, both of us are about at our limits with two. Most days, we have just enough time, energy, attention, etc., to give our kids what they need, while still retaining enough of ourselves to stay sane.

Posted by: laura33 | September 3, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

We decided to have a second and ended up with twins, and won't be having any more. Truth be told, I'm a little sad about it. In another life, I would like to have more kids. I like my kids. But I know I'm at my limit in terms of my energy level (not to mention the finances). I couldn't be a good mother to more kids than I currently have.

Posted by: floof | September 3, 2009 9:40 AM | Report abuse

I think Cletus and Brandine should have all the kids they want.

Posted by: spidey103 | September 3, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

The decision to have a second child was easy. DH and I always agreed we wanted two, and by the time the first was 9 months old, we were ready to try again.

The decision whether or not to have a third child is largely out of our hands (our second child came only after a miscarriage, and ectopic and 1.5 rounds of IVF). But I think I'm ok with that. I have my hands full with two kids right now.

I do wonder, though, when that wistful craving for a baby goes away. My baby is almost seven months old now, and she seems to be growing up at warp speed. I'm already missing having a newborn, and there are times when it's hard to accept that I'll never have one again.

Posted by: newsahm | September 3, 2009 10:22 AM | Report abuse

I just feel bad for the kids, because they get shortchanged on time/love/attention from the parents. You can only spread yourself so thin as a parent -- you can't be everywhere at once. Plus, it seems like they have to grow up faster than normal and help out with the parenting by taking care of their younger buddy. Childhood is so shortlived. I want my kids to enjoy it and play, and to be kids as long as they can. Adulthood and responsibilities come too soon as it is.

I went to a very large OB practice in DC for my pregnancies, and I always felt like I was cared for but herded through (see doctor, pop out baby, good bye). I imagine these kids probably feel the same way.

Posted by: 2monkeys | September 3, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

My story is very similar to Laura's. My son was born when I was 34. He came very easily, but the first couple of years were hard. He had colic initially, and then was just such a bundle of energy that I could hardly keep up with him. I thought I had reached my limit. But as he got older, it became easier, and I began to long for another baby. So after a few years, we started trying again, and had a string of miscarriages over the course of three years or so. I almost gave up. I can think of a couple of occasions where I decided that we would stop trying, but somehow, the family felt incomplete so I changed my mind and went back to the drawing board (so to speak). And finally, at the end of 2007, a week and a half before my 42nd birthday, my daughter was born, and I am so glad we did not give up.

But now we are done. Partly because of my age, but also because the family feels complete now. We really lucked out.

Posted by: emily8 | September 3, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

I like the Duggars but one thing that does trouble me is whenever they're being interviewed and even on their show it's the older children who are always holding/carrying/pushing/etc. the younger children/babies. Even when they were in NYC in Central Park the parents were walking holding hands and the older children were pushing the babies.

Posted by: rlj1 | September 3, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

The Duggars seem to be part of the 'Full Quiver' religious Christian conservative movement that believes that families should be as large as possible. I've never watched the show, but if things work well for them, that's great. I believe they live debt-free and have no problems providing for their family. If one of their children had a learning disability, or decided he or she was gay, I wonder what would happen? The Full Quiver movement is frightening because it doesn't consider what is in the best interests of the Mother (who does the Lions share of the childrearing and housekeeping). She has no right to question it, as doing so questions the divine mission of the movement. I think Salon.com had a story about the Full Quiver movement last year, and it was heart-breaking. How many potential Andrea Yates are there? Or Octomoms?
We have two healthy children, and since we got a late start, and my husband already had two teenagers, I feel grateful for what I have.

I know a couple of adult women who grew up as the oldest daughters in large families. All three of them have chosen to remain childless. The feeling of 'been there, done that' seems to prevail...

Posted by: HuckleberryFriend | September 3, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

"Stop using birth control and let God/fate/luck decide?"

In a nutshell, the above is how we worked it, but these are some other major factors That drove our decision:

The 1st was a result of more or less of an experiment lubricated by the open bar at the company Christmas party. It happened just like the book said it would. LOL!
The 2nd was planned after my wife graduated from nursing school.
The 3rd and 4th were a result of what we call "spontaneous passion". Our 4th ended up in a miscarriage.
The 5th pregnancy was a make-up for losing the 4th.

Except for maybe the last one, we weren't ever in a good financial situation to afford kids. Our decision to procreate was based on true love and not money. What else can I say other than they are all paid for in full.

As for having another, I can say I'm done, but I do hold on to the theory that any wife with an interested, capable husband can always get another baby out of him. I mean, what man, after coming home to a buff house, candle light dinner, evening of romantic entertainment, kids at the sitters and horney wife in the bedroom is going to say "no" to the suggestion of sex? Very few.

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | September 3, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

"Obviously, our bodies, household budgets...sometimes make the call for us. But putting that aside, I'm curious to hear..."

You'd like to hear from people with unlimited budgets and bionic health?...be prepared for a short conversation.

Posted by: 06902 | September 3, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

This topic is borrrrring. Where is the back up topic.

Posted by: jezebel3 | September 3, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Correction: Where is the back up topic?

Posted by: jezebel3 | September 3, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Very, very relevant to our lives now. I am 42 and my wife is 38. Our first son is 2 years old and our second is 8 weeks old. Both pregnancies were very rough on my wife: 1) hypertension both that resulted in bed rest and repeat hospitalizations and 2) gestational diabetes thrown in for good measure. Both sons are very healthy, thank God, but the strain on my wife was great. I don't think she's up to another but I would very much like a third. I feel more than up to things, even at this advanced age, and would like a bigger family. I don't want to ask too much of my wife but if we don't at least try, I will be dissappointed and she knows it.

Posted by: Dadat39 | September 3, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

I mean, what man, after coming home to a buff house, candle light dinner, evening of romantic entertainment, kids at the sitters and horney wife in the bedroom is going to say "no" to the suggestion of sex? Very few.

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | September 3, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Eeeew. I'd go lesbo, big time, before I got in the sack with a perv like you. Eeeew. Ick.


Posted by: jezebel3 | September 3, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Jezebel, the idea that you even conjured up the thought of getting into the sack with me is simply repulsive. The fact that you put it it in writing is outwardly disturbing.

Folks, I think we should try our best to get Jezebel a date. Anybody here with me on this? You don't have to think of it as doing a favor for Jezebel so much as a charity call for the blind.

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | September 3, 2009 11:31 AM | Report abuse

I think my experience as a child coupled with my husband's experience was what shaped our ideas about how many kids we'd have.

We had childhoods with certain experiences that we either wanted to recreate or didn't want to and that factored in to establish the size of our family.

I have some reservations about these TV-families. Although I'm sure the Duggar's would tell you fame hasn't changed them they are getting paid to do this.

Most of the rest of us pay to be parents!

Posted by: RedBird27 | September 3, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

We've got three, fairly close together in age. DS1 came after several miscarriages, DD was a surprise, DS2 was not so much planned as allowed to happen. DH might like another, but because they each basically did not sleep for the first two years of their lives, with the result that I did not sleep for six (we never could agree on sleep training), I am now DONE. Also the third pregnancy was definitely hard on me, being 36 then and not extremely fit, so health issues are as much of a deterrent as sleep issues. Money issues, not so much; I've always felt that parenting was too full of imponderables to predicate having or not having a child solely on finances.

But the three we've got... our cup runneth over, and now I can't pry them out of bed in the morning :-)

Posted by: Ossian | September 3, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Huckleberry, I don't know anything about the Full Quiver movement, but I have seen enough of the Duggars to know that the husband says it is up to Michelle whether to continue with having children. She says as long as she remains healthy she will put it in the Lord's hands.

I know plenty of people with large families, including in-laws and grandparents that came from families of 8 and 9. Some had lots of kids, some had none, but few complained because those generations didn't. I have a friend that is one of 12 and he says that he remembers no one-on-one time with his parents - they died young and he never got his second chance. He and his wife had 4 and his reasoning was that was all he could handle and afford - and that is his choice!

Posted by: cheekymonkey | September 3, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Whacky - You usually aren't so directly snarky, but Jez deserved that one.

Posted by: emily8 | September 3, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

I think it's hard to quantify the "quiverfull" movement. My former boss was an evangelical Christian who considered himeself part of this movement, but his take was that it was up to his wife when or if she wanted to stop having kids. I believe they stopped at 6. Not sure what they decided to use for birth control, but natural family planning does work pretty well if you are commited to it and know what you're doing.

Posted by: floof | September 3, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Since I am turning 42 to this year, the size of my family is limited to stepchildren.

Initially, I really wanted to have a child of my own with my husband - one would have been plenty. Given how tragically wrong this relationship has gone, I am super-glad we never had the finances in place to actually look into having a child.

Since I highly doubt this relationship is going to be an ongoing success, I guess I will eventually be back down to 0. I had a hard time adjusting to the children so I am not sure if I am great mommy material. I will certainly miss the kids when they are gone from my life as they have wiggled themselves into my heart.

I doubt I will end up with stepchildren in future relationships unless the mother is completely out of the picture (perhaps a widower). I think it would be very hard for me to trust that the next man wouldn't also put the ex-wife above me in all things. "Mother of my children" can apparently have far more weight than "wife" in a man's priorities and I have no interest in being the 'other' woman again.

So the perfect sized family for me is apparently 2 cats and no children.

Posted by: Billie_R | September 3, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Cheeky, You might be intrigued by doing some research on the topic- there are some sites online maintained by the quiverfull/full quiver folks, as well as some investigative reporting on the pros and cons of the movement.

Interesting to note that many of us can go back only a couple of generations to find big families- my paternal grandparents came from families of 8 and 10 respectfully. They were both farm families, and everyone worked the fields when they were able. Birth control is a relatively new phenomenon. We've got 'family planning' down to a science, and that is a good thing.

However, in the busy/crazy world we live in today where most parents work full-time and worry about money, large families are rare. Too each his own, I say.

For anyone who is watching the Duggar program, which children do the most helping with the younger ones? Girls/boys? I will be disappointed if I hear that none of the boys in the family are able to change a diaper!

Posted by: HuckleberryFriend | September 3, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Billie - I am sorry to hear that it has worked out that way. I know you really tried to work it out. If I were you, though, I would not give up on the hope of a family, be it through marriage or adoption. I think you have to judge any future relationship and its possibilities on its own merits and not against the backdrop of a failed marriage. Who knows, you could meet a man that makes you want to go out and adopt a child, or that has children but is able to make you a priority as well. Good luck.

Posted by: emily8 | September 3, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Billie - I am sorry to hear that it has worked out that way. I know you really tried to work it out. If I were you, though, I would not give up on the hope of a family, be it through marriage or adoption. I think you have to judge any future relationship and its possibilities on its own merits and not against the backdrop of a failed marriage. Who knows, you could meet a man that makes you want to go out and adopt a child, or that has children but is able to make you a priority as well. Good luck.

Posted by: emily8 | September 3, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse


Ditto. Billie - hold tight to those cats. They'll help you move into the next stage of your life. A better life.

Posted by: jezebel3 | September 3, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Billie, my heart goes out to you. Being a step parent is really difficult, and many men struggle with loyalty issues with 'the mother of their children'. It is like being the odd man out, especially if you haven't had the chance to have children with your husband and establish a family of your own. Good luck with whatever you decide. You deserve someone who can be fully available and devoted to you, and sometimes that is really hard for spouses who already have children.

Posted by: HuckleberryFriend | September 3, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

"Mother of my children" can apparently have far more weight than "wife" in a man's priorities and I have no interest in being the 'other' woman again.
Posted by: Billie_R |
------------------------------------
That's a tough one and it depends on the man's priorities. If his #1 priority is his children, then you will always be secondary to their mother. I guess you have to figure it out before going in to the relationship. Best of luck!!!

Posted by: pipe1 | September 3, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

At 42 pregnancy tests are less reliable. She may, after all of those pregnancies, be beginning menopause. Apparently God will have decided

Posted by: LisaMary | September 3, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

they are huge advocates of paying with cash and accumulating no debt, not even a mortgage
****
that's because they get paid a boatload of money for televising their boring lives. additionally, they don't pay taxes, or not much, because he has a religious radio show that airs from the house and also holds services there. ta dah.

Posted by: frieda406 | September 3, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

His children are certainly important to him and I don't have any issues with that. My issue is with the free time he spends with his ex and children together.

They go out to movies, dinners, parties, shopping, and he spend time at her place on days off. Or how about the graduation ceremony from his son's grade school that I was told not to attend. They were attending it together.

At some point, your attention really needs to be transferred from the mother to the wife.

Posted by: Billie_R | September 3, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

I like the Duggars but one thing that does trouble me is whenever they're being interviewed and even on their show it's the older children who are always holding/carrying/pushing/etc. the younger children/babies. Even when they were in NYC in Central Park the parents were walking holding hands and the older children were pushing the babies.

Posted by: rlj1 | September 3, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Personally, I'd rather see older children with their younger siblings in their arms than iPods or Xboxes or cell phones or cigarettes. Nothing wrong with
children being responsible for the younger ones. And really, that was the norm for generations in large families.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | September 3, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

I totally disagree that the Duggars have "earned the right to have as many children as they want". The selfishness of propogating 19-20 little replicas in an overpopulated world is astounding. Makes no difference whether they can afford them or not-the world with its overstretched resources cannot afford them.

Posted by: amac3 | September 3, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Frieda, The Duggars may well pay little taxes - with 18 plus dependents it's understandable. They actually have been advocates of the "no debt" lifestyle for over a decade. The father is a real estate agent and from what they said on one of their shows about a year ago (it covered their finances and debt free living style) the rental income from the properties they own covers their monthly basic expenses. What they do with their money from the show - I don't know. They are far from ostentatious and still shop at thrift shops.

Your attempt to paint them as religious nutjobs avoiding taxes and holding (gasp!) religious services in their home strikes me as just sour grapes. They seem to be walking the walk, true to their beliefs and all the kids seems happy and healthy. I think I have seen a handful of the Duggars show and they are fairly open with their finances and lifestyle.

As with Jon and Kate - if you don't like them - don't watch it.

Posted by: cheekymonkey | September 3, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

I guess I can get on board with the fact that Duggars are fairly financially responsible, but - I admit I find the thought of giving nineteen children attention, love, and opportunities daunting. I wonder how they handle college tuition??? Or do they handle it?

Having just had my seocnd about four weeks ago, I'm not sure my perspective on this subject isn't totally skewed by lack of sleep at the moment. My husband and I have always talked about having three and...I think I'm still open to that, but I'm not as convinced it's what I want as before I had #2. Mostly I think because I am struggling right now with identity/balance/time for myself/time with my husband issues. We'll see if my feelings change as this little one gets older and we settle into some sort of a routine.

Posted by: stephs98 | September 3, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

"My issue is with the free time he spends with his ex and children together"

Billie - Your complaints are completely valid. I can't help but think that this might have been fraud on the part of your husband. Did you help him gain residency papers or citizenship?

Posted by: emily8 | September 3, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

I never wanted kids at all, but was blessed with one. Every now and then, I thought I should have had another, since he was so easy, but I always thought about people who have an easy time with the first one, then have a harder time with the second, so I talked myself out of it. Now he's 16 and I'm 47 and dad is 50, so it's a bit late to worry about it. FWIW, he has always said he loved being a "single child" (his term). I guess you can't miss what you never had.

Posted by: margaret6 | September 3, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

fr HuckleberryFriend:

>...The Duggars seem to be part of the 'Full Quiver' religious Christian conservative movement that believes that families should be as large as possible. ...

They are part of that cult. Daddy made up a fake religion so he could declare the house as "missionary housing", thereby escaping paying property taxes. The girls all wear dresses/skirts while the boys get to wear jeans, and all look like little stepford girls. EXTREMELY frightening. 18 kids is WAY too many in one family; now they're adding another. How sad. Kids get no alone time with either parent, and the older kids (usually girls) are shoved off to care for younger siblings.

It's a very unhealthy way to live, and I'm surprised that mommy's ob hasn't told her to stop having kids. She'll be old before her time.

Posted by: Alex511 | September 3, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

natural family planning does work pretty well if you are commited to it and know what you're doing.

Posted by: floof | September 3, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Interesting. I know quite a few people who had "oopsies" using natural family planning.

Posted by: dennis5 | September 3, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Eighteen kids is too many, no matter how much money you have. Parenting should be primarily the parents' job, not the older kids' job. I have no problem with older kids occasionally helping out, but having this be a primary responsibility (as it is for the Duggars) is unfair. People should only have as many kids as they have money and time to support and take care of. They should not be leaning so heavily on their other children to care for the little ones. These other kids should be allowed to have lives, hobbies, interests, and free time not encumbered by the children that their parents crank out on a regular, seemingly unrelenting basis.

Posted by: emily8 | September 3, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Billie, very sorry to hear that things aren't going well for you. Always thought it was nice that you are on here trying to be a good Stepmother.

Good luck with whatever you decide.

Posted by: sunflower571 | September 3, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

This is a very timely topic for me as DH would really like another child and I am perfectly satisfied with DS, who is 2. I feel my family is complete and I like the balance we have. He thinks I will eventually come around to wanting another and it feels like the burden is on me to prove to him why we are OK with one. I am 37 so I don't have forever to figure this out.

He thinks older children are screwed up. I think it's the parents that screw them up. Kids with siblings can be equally screwed up. He thinks DS needs a sibling. I think DS has plenty of friends and cousins. He thinks DS needs someone to talk to about how nuts we are-that I sort of agree with. But, I can't guarantee DS and mythical child #2 will like each other, take care of each other or us so I think you should only have another if you want the experience of parenting another, and I don't. I don't know if that makes me selfish or lazy or what, but I see parents with more than one child, and I do not envy them in any way.

For those who have been in this situation, how did you come to a decision that you were both happy about? I feel like someone is going to "lose" and that's not really fair/appropriate when it comes to another human being.

Posted by: Laura118 | September 3, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

"Interesting. I know quite a few people who had "oopsies" using natural family planning."

We never did. On the other hand, number 3 was born because other birth control methods - like, pills - aren't 100% effective. It's mostly a matter of how closely you follow it and having the discipline to enjoy other forms of pleasure when it's too dangerous.

Posted by: m2j5c2 | September 3, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Laura 118.

I think that as long as you feel the way you feel, that you should not have another child. You should not do it for your other child, or even for your husband if your heart is not fully in it. It is not a matter of your or your husband winning or losing. Think of this potential child who was brought into the world by an unwilling mother because the father insisted and refused to take no for an answer. Would you want to be that child?

This does not mean that you might not change your mind in a few years. You might. And if you do, you might be able to have another child, or not. But there are no guarantees to any of this, and your husband needs to accept this.

Posted by: emily8 | September 3, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Natural family planning works well for me. I am 30, and judging from my family history, I probably will hit menopause earlier than most women. So my plan is to have another child every 3-4 years until menopause. That will make 4 or possibly 5 for us. We always wanted at least 3, so it works.

Posted by: jaxom | September 3, 2009 4:14 PM | Report abuse

My SIL stopped at one child because her first child was a difficult baby and now it's too late and she regrets it...she said at the time she was too overwhelmed and was afraid that she and my BIL couldn't love another child as much as they love their son. But now she says she sees how much her love for her son has grown and grown and now wishes she had another. And my Grandma recently brought up to me that it's a good thing she had 4 kids since my Dad, her favorite, died 6 years ago.

Don't know what I will do. My husband just wants one and I would like two but am afriad that children are very expensive.

Posted by: sunflower571 | September 3, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Laura 118 - Emily gave you the woman's point of view; I'll give you the man's. You two need to seriously discuss this over a period of weeks and see if a compromise is possible. If not, then yes, one of you "wins" and the other one "loses." But be aware of what it might do to your marriage - bluntly, he might go find someone to give him that other kid he craves so much. It's been known to happen.

Re: emily's "would you want to be that child?" - I know that child; she's the best friend of one of my daughters; call her "Sue" (not her real name). Sue's mother was "through" after two but after several years she agreed to have another one because her husband really wanted a third child. Sue's relationship with her mother has always been strained; her relationship with her father has always been fantastic. (And don't all of us know it. :-) Sue's a senior this year; her GPA exceeds 4.0; her SAT is through the roof; she's an accomplished musician; she's a top athlete; and frankly she sifting at least a dozen academic scholarship offers. Plus she's as well adjusted and happy as almost any other high school senior.

Yes, Sue would have been much happier with her mother's full support over the years, but if you ask her emily's question, her answer would definitely be "it beats the alternative - which is not being here."

Posted by: ArmyBrat1 | September 3, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

"Yes, Sue would have been much happier with her mother's full support over the years, but if you ask her emily's question, her answer would definitely be "it beats the alternative - which is not being here.""

How tragic that Sue knows her mother did not want to have her. How tragic that you know. Yikes. I wonder if Sue's wonderful achievements aren't perhaps a result of her difficult relationship with her mother. Has she been trying all her life to win her mother's acceptance? If so, how incredibly sad. Yes, I guess that beats not existing at all, but that's kinda a low bar to set, isn't it?

I hesistate to second guess decisions that have already been made. Perhaps Sue was just meant to be. But this example does not necessarily mean that Laura 118 should base her decision on what happened to Sue and her family. Different family, different set of circumstances.

Furthermore, having a child for fear that your husband might leave if you don't is not a reason to have a child. It is a glaring and important reason not to have this child. It also depends on how resistant you are to the idea. If your husband strongly wants a child, and you are happy with one but think you could be happy with two as well (in other words you don't feel as strongly about it as your husband), then I could see bending a little to give him a second child. But if you do feel strongly that this child is not for you, I would advise against it. Having another child brings a lot of uncertainty in life. You will be a parent no matter what, if the child is healthy or happy or not. You have to approach this with total commitment. Otherwise, it's not fair to the child or to the rest of the family. Perhaps Sue has been able to come to terms with her mother's rejection by seeing it as better than not having been born. I would never ever want my child to view her life in a similar fashion.

Posted by: emily8 | September 3, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse

We have two. Ask my DH and he says we're DONE. We're each one of three, and well, the middle children in both our families are, well, typical middle children.
My thought, though, is if you are aware of what's going on, rather than just 'muddling thru' then you have a better than even chance of doing good. And our second child, well, you could never ever think of HIM as being overlooked.

So, well, I toy with the idea, knowing full well DH is completely done. He is loving being a dad, but I think he feels that he doesn't have enough energy. I just turned 40, but could probably have another one. I have a pretty fertile family. But, you do never know. DH doesn't want to discuss it and, well, I don't want to have to *convince* him.

My younger son is at a preschool run by extremely religious jews. They don't use birth control. The rabbi and his wife have 6 children now. And she's maybe 34? or so? So it's quite possible she'd have 3 or 4 more. One of the teachers has 8. The rabbi's one of 12 and the rabbi's wife is one of 'only' 6 I think (maybe more?). My views are that if you want them, then you have them - just don't ask anyone else to pay for them. I don't see a problem with having the older ones help out. We spoil our kids way too much (did anyone see the report last week re: the mom who had two boys in college? And she writes to do lists for them every day? And reminds them of quizzes and papers due? etc...she speaks with them several times a day - I spoke to my parents once a week when I was in college - so, like, how are those children going to handle the real world? Or a girlfriend/wife?). So, seriously, when we have more kids, those kids learn responsibility, and they learn how to take care of themselves, learn that it's not all about them, etc. With smaller and smaller families, well, we aren't teaching that to the kids as much.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | September 3, 2009 4:50 PM | Report abuse

emily, I think you're putting way too negative a spin on the "Sue" situation, but I think you and I are actually agreeing on a lot of levels underneath.

"Sue" has been a good friend of my daughter's for about 10 years. We've known her a long time. It's sad that she doesn't have her mother's full support, but it's her mother's loss moreso than hers. (I equate it on some level to my brother's ex-wife, who kicked her daughters out because her second husband didn't want them. So my brother raised two daughters as a single father. I try not to speak ill of the dead, but - her loss.)

"It also depends on how resistant you are to the idea. If your husband strongly wants a child, and you are happy with one but think you could be happy with two as well (in other words you don't feel as strongly about it as your husband), then I could see bending a little to give him a second child."

We agree - that's what I meant by seeing if a compromise is possible.

And as far as the husband possibly leaving - there are any number of examples. If the gossip is to be believed, Bruce Springsteen left his first wife because she didn't want kinds. Brad Pitt dumped Jennifer Anniston for Angelina Jolie because Jen didn't want kids. If he wants kids badly enough, it might happen.

But I do have to ask one thing, emily. Suppose that the situation was reversed - Laura really, really strongly wanted another child and her husband was dead set against it. What would you recommend then? Go back to Whacky's comment earlier.

(Oh, dear lord - now I'm quoting celebrity gossip and defending Whacky! Aggghhh - I gotta get outa here! :-)

Posted by: ArmyBrat1 | September 3, 2009 5:10 PM | Report abuse

"Interesting. I know quite a few people who had "oopsies" using natural family planning."

Yeah, but I think a lot of people don't really understand how it works. NFP is not the rhythm method. My husband and I used a combination of this and condoms between my pregnancies since I didn't want to go back on the pill.

Posted by: floof | September 3, 2009 5:16 PM | Report abuse

"But I do have to ask one thing, emily. Suppose that the situation was reversed - Laura really, really strongly wanted another child and her husband was dead set against it. What would you recommend then? "

I actually was in that situation. When my son was about 3, I began wanting another child. So I talked with my husband and he told me he did not want another one. And he was adamant. I was sad, but what could I do? About a year and later, he asked me if I still wanted another child. He had changed his mind. I asked him later why he changed his mind, and he said he could not really explain it. But it took a year to happen.

Posted by: emily8 | September 3, 2009 5:16 PM | Report abuse

OK, AB, let me give you yet another woman's point of view. If my husband decided he loved the idea of having another child so much that he was willing to leave the reality of me and our existing child(ren) to get it, then, well, don't let the door hit you on the way out. I would be incredibly hurt that he valued some theoretical possibility more than the wife and kid(s) who are standing in front of him, right here, right now. Having another kid might convince him to stay, sure -- but it would never, ever make that hurt go away. And I would not want to invest even more of myself into someone who values me and his existing kid(s) so little. So if that's his choice, go make it and be done with it; better now than in another 5 or 10 or 15 years, when it's something else.

Yes, they need to talk it through; she needs to really hear why he wants another kid so badly, he needs to really hear why she does not. And throwing around generalizations ("only children are screwed up") doesn't count -- that's just talking to prove a point. What they need to focus on is why another child is the right or wrong thing for these three individuals, this family, right now. There may well be a compromise. Maybe he wants another because he gets the coos and smiles, and she doesn't because she gets the dirty diapers and 3 AM feedings. If that's the case, well, maybe they can swap roles and see if that will work for both of them. Or maybe she has some postpartum, or is unsatisfied with whatever work/home balance they have found, and worries what another kid will do. Again, if they can talk about these things -- both the hopes AND the fears -- there are frequently ways to tackle them. But if they can't agree, I'm totally with Dr. Phil on this one: it takes two "yesses" or one "no." The worst thing to do is to make a decision this huge out of fear -- especially when there is another potential life involved who is completely innocent and powerless.

Posted by: laura33 | September 3, 2009 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Back to Whacky's comment. Yes, I supposed I could have tried to trick my husband into making a baby, and I probably would have succeeded if I had put my mind to it, but I'm just not that sneaky, and more than that, I have a principled belief that such tactics are just wrong. He told me upfront how he felt. I needed to respect that. I also needed him to want this second baby as much as I did. So I braced for the worst and hoped he would change his mind before my body went kaput. For a while there, I thought it might have been too late, but then, we got lucky.

Posted by: emily8 | September 3, 2009 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Laura,
You said it so much better than me. Thank you.

Posted by: emily8 | September 3, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Yes, our family size was determined the same way the Duggars are deciding. We have two.

Eight years ago, we thought it would be three, but then I miscarried. I'm 50, in great health and good fitness level, loved being pregnant both times, and not yet menopausal.

So, maybe it's still possible that the boys will get that little sister they've always wanted.

If lightning strikes again...

If the Goddess so wills...

And if not... (shrugging my shoulders)
We already have two wonderful children, born after we'd accepted that childlessness was how our future would turn out. And DH at 52 and in moderate health (although doing great for a diabetic!) is less and less willing to take on full-time care of a new baby.

So, if the miraculous occurred, we'd be happy. And if we don't get another little miracle, we'll still be happy.

Posted by: SueMc | September 3, 2009 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Laura33, thank you for your words. Definitely gives me something to think about.

Just to clarify, he isn't going anywhere. He is very happy with our current situation, but as one of 4 who is close to his siblings, he doesn't see the big deal. He is the youngest by many years, so he was basically an only child and probably wished his siblings were closer in age so they would play with him. I am the oldest of two and had a very strained relationship with my sibling until recently. I always wished I was an only. So that definitely plays into this. I would hate to do that to my son.

Much of this is due to my feeling like a single parents because of my husband's work hours. That won't be changing anytime soon, so while the idea of another child is great to him, all I think about is logistics. Could I keep up with our son when I was pregnant? Probably. Could I keep up with his needs and a newborn/infant? I would lose my mind for sure, and my son is very easygoing. I just can't imagine how I could do what I do now, for two people, one of whom doesn't sleep and could potentially be attached to me 24/7. And I am afraid it would break my son's heart for him to hear me say over and over that I have to tend to the baby right now and not him. My husband is a good Dad, and is present when he's home, but I don't think he realizes how much more I do/would do. I know I am focusing on the negative, but I can't see past that first year. Even past that, juggling two kids' schedules/needs, doesn't sound enriching or fulfilling to me. Am I missing the mom gene, even though I am a mom??

Posted by: Laura118 | September 3, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse

"Am I missing the mom gene, even though I am a mom??"

Well, if you are, so are a lot of us. :-)

Seriously, it's called knowing your limits, and respecting them.

Posted by: laura33 | September 3, 2009 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, but some imaginary being does not decide how big your family is. The mother and father do, by making the decision to engage in activity which has certain probable outcomes. Each person makes their own decision based on financial situation, emotional needs or in some cases severe psychiatric problems (Octomom).

Personally I think it is selfish to have more children than you can provide with proper parenting - there is certainly an upper limit given the extreme time commitment for infants and toddlers (unless of course you simply outsource). But on the flip side I'm sure it would be rare to find a child who wishes he hadn't been born.

There is a big distinction between people who can afford to have children and people who cannot but do so anyone (again Octomom). The latter should have their children removed and adopted.

Posted by: Boraxo1 | September 3, 2009 6:45 PM | Report abuse

laura113: it's kind of like - well - we all know, for the second at least, what the difficulties are. And some of us don't remember how tough it was, or think of the smiles, etc, and figure since we figured out a way with the first, we'd figure out a way for the second (or more).
Sometimes, people can't see past all of that, and maybe it's some higher being saying that no, it's not the right time. You should probably say what you said here to your hubby (do I sound like Hax now?) - as in how tough it will be. IF you wanted another one - but can't see past that and IF your DH wanted another one badly, there could be compromises and decisions made (you get more help - either he works less, or you hire someone, or some other compromise), or not. It's just that if you can articulate it (and ya know, sometimes it's tough to do, my DH brings up the idea of both our families, but in the end, I don't think he really knows why he doesn't want another...but that's okay, too - it's such a crazy thing to do, to have kids ;) - you should talk about it. (I'm not sure I could articulate why I'd want another child, either, anyway).

Posted by: atlmom1234 | September 3, 2009 9:20 PM | Report abuse

Are you for real, Armybrat? She should have a child so her husband won't leave her?

Having a child as a desperate ploy to keep your spouse around is a terrible idea, whether it's the first child coming when the honeymoon is over and the marriage has started to strain, or an additional child because if he doesn't get one, he's out of here. Children are not bargaining chips and they're not Relationship Superglue. If the husband is going to throw down and threaten to leave over that, he should go on and leave. Glad to hear that's not what our actual poster is facing.

Posted by: nobodyknowhow | September 4, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

The Duggars seem to be doing a great job with their brood. They seem to be genuinely loving, balanced, wise, and devoted parents, and I admire them for that.

What bothers me is the arrogance in Jim Bob's explanation of their debt-free living. He acts like faith alone is all a family needs to get by. That's just not true. As important as faith may be, it simply doesn't pay the bills for most families.

Posted by: baranv | September 8, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

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