How many children should I have?

Well, let me tell you.  Or maybe not.  But I've been asked this question fairly frequently - I assume because we've made that decision a few times over.

People always told me that I'd know when we'd finished having kids.  I didn't.  I loved babies and I couldn't see any good reasons to not have more children other than our ability to cope.  So here we are - 5 kids later!

Why have we not had more?  I got tired, I got old, I didn't want a bigger gap between our oldest and youngest, we couldn't see how we could fit another bed into our house, the first year of my youngest child's life was quite dark and scary for me and I was happy to not return to feeling like that again.

But I have been thinking a bit about what to think through when deciding whether or not you should grow your family.

- What's your personality like?  I realised that I'm a bit of an introvert so having lots of kids at home all the time, has meant that I don't have lots of emotional energy left for the rest of the world.  That can be hard sometimes.

- Are you content spending a lot of time at home with your children - and are you happy doing lots of housework and cooking?  You will need to do more of that than friends with less children.

- Financially?  Not an issue for me that ever concerned me so I'm probably not a person to comment on that issue, but it might be for you, so you need to think through that carefully.

- Physically is it wise for you to go through another pregnancy?  Will having a difficult pregnancy have a long-term impact on your ability to care for your family?

- How do you feel about having a child with special needs?  Does that feel too difficult on top of where your other kids are at now.  I do think that God provides the strength we need to get through, but that doesn't make it easy or take the reality of the hardness away.

- Do you have plans to work as a missionary?  Lots of children has certainly meant that we can't pursue that option and it has limited how much formal ministry I can do.

However, none of this is prescriptive.  Just my random thoughts.


Sally said…
Your picture makes me laugh... Is it a good time to ask how many children should I have whilst holding up a pregnancy test? Other picture options; mother screaming at kids as she gets them off to school or a picture of the kids all sleeping (the time when I feel a surge of love for them and think I could cope with more)
Taara said…
Interesting post, Jenny. It's so much more complicated than just asking your spouse, "so, how many kids do you want?" I always thought I wanted lots of kids, but now that I have two, I'm not sure. These are definitely some good questions to ask yourself before you go down that road, and ditto to Sally's comment on the photo choice! I also do feel a huge surge of love for my kids when they are sleeping peacefully!
Anonymous said…
We love your random thoughts, Jenny! We have 4 kids ( the 5th died at 20 months old)and 8 grandkids. Three of them are driving their own cars and with the eldest getting married soon, I could be a great-grandfather at 66. We live in hope! Life is fun! God is good!!
Cath said…
Great post - great questions. I'm with you - it's more a rational decision to have no more children than a 'knowing' that you've finished having kids.

The great problem with kids is that you fall in love with them, and love is not always very rational. You look at your kids and you can't believe that here in your family is this amazing, separate, complex entity of a *person* - so worth every minute of the time and money they take. And I can never help wondering what the next mixture of genes would produce! :)

Nice to meet you the other week. The link to that blog of Aussie books I mentioned is here:

Jenny said…
Yes Cath - I do wonder if I've been on a bit of a power trip for the last decade! A fascinating journey of 'how many different versions of ourselves can we create'? ;)
Karen said…
I thought I knew when we were finished having kids, and that we had made a rational decision to move on to the next stage of our lives....but as it turns out, it seems that God might have other plans for us. And we had thought through most of the questions on your list as now we are having to rethink some of our answers!?
Deb L said…
Karen, are you trying to tell us something?!
Louisa said…
This is a really helpful post. I have two now and sometimes feel so overwhelmed I can't imagine anymore and yet both my husband and I can't imagine not having at least 3, maybe 4 children. For me point 2 is the kicker - the issue I am trying to work through the most, and partly point 1 but that's linked to #2 for me as an extrovert. I keep remembering this is just a season in time...
Jane said…
Thanks for this post, Jenny. We thought through all the questions you asked and came to the conclusion that 2 was as many as we should have. It's taken me a long time not to feel like a failure as a Christian because of it. But God is kind and I think I'm over it now. Such a difficult and emotional issue! I appreciate people like you outlining rational reasons why to continue growing a family or stopping because whenever I've asked mothers with many more children than myself, they said that just 'had' to keep having as many as they did in order to feel satisfied that they were living up to an ideal they had of themselves. I couldn't live up to my own ideal, so I felt lonely in that place at that time. Just loving the freedom having two kids brings now and cherishing the deep relationships God is growing between me and them :)
Jenny said…
Sounds like your family is perfect Jane. I have heard your feeling of failure from other women and it's sad that we make each other feel like that. There's not a right or wrong on this one. How can there be when so many people live with the sadness of infertility?

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