When I meet people at work I often ask them three questions: 1) what do they do for a living? 2) Are they retired and if not, when will they retire (If they are retired I ask them if it is awesome. For the record only one person did not enjoy it thus far)? and 3) how many children do they have.
It is amazing the range of answers you will get on the last one. One woman I met has 14 kids, others have none, and of course there is a range in between. Those with 3 or 4 say it’s amazing and they would not change it for the world. Those with 1 seem just as content and discuss how their lives are fulfilled but easier then their family or friends with more kids.
We have one kid
At the time of this article, my wife and I “only” have one child. We often discuss if we want one more (I am not looking to have more than two) and why or why not. There are a million and one reasons why and why not to have more than one kid, which we will discuss below. But first, what is the cost of having kids and the trends in the modern era.
My wife would like time to make a reference to Idiocracy here. Ever see this movie? It is pretty funny and kind of right on. The concept of this movie is that educated and high achieving individuals have less and less children as time goes on while the rest of the society continues to produce mucho babies. Due to the shear numbers of kids from less educated individuals, intelligent people disappear and the country is run by a bunch of idiots…thus Idiocracy!
Having a kid is expensive
How did parenting get to be so expensive? Or more so, why did it get so expensive? The cost of raising a child born in 2013 is estimated at $245,340 for a middle-income family. This includes food, housing, childcare, education and other expenses up to the age of 18. This is a lot of money considering the median household income in 2013 was $51,939. On top of that there is the stress/time cost of parenting which has been estimated at $66,000 per kid in Australia. So if it costs us on average $300 k to raise a kid why do we do it?
Biologic need for kids
The obvious answer is we are humans and humans are still animals. We are here to spread our genetic material in hopes it will immortalize us for generations. The secondary answer is society. The modern day nuclear family is 2.6 kids. This is today.
If we look back to before 1971, the “ideal” number of kids to have was 2.9 kids and in 1936…3.6 kids. So it seems family size is getting smaller. There are a number of reasons for this. These include the availability of birth control and women’s participation in the work force, the change from an agricultural civilization to our current one (we don’t need 14 kids to tend the farm anymore), and the afore mentioned costs of kids.
So if the average number of children has decreased by 1 since 1936 (from 3.6 to 2.6), can we assume that in another 80 years, the average number of kids will be 1.6? Eventually will 1 child be the norm?
Will 1 kid become the norm?
It’s hard to tell. Most of my friends and community state that 2 is the right number of kids to have. Of course those with 3 or 4 can’t imagine any fewer, and those with one have more time to themselves. I get the desire to have a large family. It is fun to have lots of kids running around, and if you had asked me 5 years ago I would have said I wanted 2 or 3 kids How about now, well now I am thinking 1 kid may be enough.
Why one kid?
We have not slept in over 20 months.
Our son has clubfoot and every night wears boots and a bar that keeps his feet rotated a certain way so that they will grow normally. As can be imagined, this is not particularly comfortable and prevents him from sleeping through the night. Plus, I think much like myself; he just does not need as much sleep. I am not sure we are ready to go through another 2-3 years of no sleep.
We like to travel.
A lot. This year we already have plans to go to Seattle, Cabo, and Nashville in the first 3 months. We also like to travel internationally. One child is easier to travel with instead of two. If we decide to have another child then we will delay our plans a few years, but not end (Not to mention the costs of another plane ticket?)
We are fulfilled with one.
This is very true. My paternal needs have been satisfied with one child. A second child would be more to provide companionship for my son. Is that a good enough reason to have another kid? Maybe….
Most of our friends who are single children are well adjusted and do not regret not having a sibling.
Now both my wife and I have siblings and we are both close to them and have strong relationships. I value my brother in my life, but I also have plenty of friends who have no siblings. They grew up with their cousins serving the role of sibling. Out of the many friends I have who were single children, only one set really wanted 2 kids so that their children would have a sibling. So I guess my point is siblings are not necessary to be well adjusted.
Pregnancy and childbirth is not easy. Many many people have died from childbirth in the past and while this is better now it is still a risk. In fact, my wife actually bled out after delivering our son and if we had not been in a hospital she may have died. It was both the most amazing moment (the birth of our son) and the most terrifying momment (the potential loss of my wife) in my life. I am not sure I am ready to risk her life again when we already have one amazing son.
Further medical reasons
As discussed before here and here, we had to go through fertility. The second round will likely be cheaper as we know what we are doing, but is it worth the months of shots again, the cost, and the uncertainty of if it will work? For anyone who has ever been pregnant, tried to get pregnant, or been through infertility treatments you know it is an emotional roller coaster ride and one that can make you quite nauseated.
Further, further medical reasons
We have a beautiful boy who was born with clubfoot. This is the most common genetic abnormality children are born with and is easy to correct. Luckily he is otherwise sound of mind and body. Every time a person gets pregnant there is the risk for more significant medical problems. Is this reason enough not to get pregnant, No….but there should be some thought given to it prior to committing to a second child. As we get older the risks are higher for some congenital abnormalities. Are we ready for that risk and the impact it would have on our family?
Ok I think that is all I have. Mr. Money Mustache wrote about this a long long time ago here and I must say I agree with some of his thoughts…. What are your thoughts? Am I missing any reasons to have one kid? What are your reasons to have two kids…or more?
I am Eiman Jahangir and I am a dad, husband, and cardiologist. I grew up in the South, trained in the Northeast, moved out West, and now am happily back home in the South. My wife and I have seen our fair share of ups and downs, from the pain of dealing with infertility and losing everything in a matter of hours in the Tubb’s Wildfire, to the joys of having our son and finally finding a medical practice that is right for me. It hasn’t always been easy, but I am grateful and continue to move forward in positive steps.
I write to help people looking to improve their lives. I have written my thoughts and experiences on a wide arrange of topics from parenting to finances to mindfulness. While some of my posts are more useful for doctors and other high earners, most are for everyone.