Parenting: Deciding whether to grow your family

June 21, 2011 9:19:53 AM PDT
Are you thinking about adding more children to your family?? You might want to think again.

A new study shows that, for most people, less is more when it comes to kids. In fact, one family therapist says too many children can actually lead to divorce.

The new Pew Research Study finds that marital satisfaction drops with each child you add, and parents with large families often seem to regret it.

Those two findings led Dr. Alan Singer to write a self-help book, Creating Your Perfect Family Size, to guide couples on deciding how many children is just right for them.? He says outside factors tend to play a big role in deciding how many kids you want, and they really shouldn't.

For example, too many children could cripple an already weak relationship and drive a couple to divorce.? Or it could just lead to constant stress in the home, which is also bad for the parents and children.

When parents with three, four or five children were asked what, they felt, the ideal number of children to have, "One third of those couples with large families said 'two,'" said Dr. Singer.

So start by asking yourself why you want to have a first, second, or third baby.? Is it because you're being pressured to have provide a grandchild, all your friends are having babies, you think it's your duty, or you feel "sorry" for an only child and think they're lonely??

Dr. Singer says those are not good enough reasons to grow your family and you're headed down a slippery slope.

Also, if you're having a baby because you want a best friend later in life, or maybe you think he or she will be a "mini-me" with the same interests as you, or you think it will be "fun", experts say think again.? What if your child is your polar opposite?? Or has physical, emotional or learning problems?? It may not be as "fun" as you imagined.

Dr. Singer says you should also consider that it costs about $12,000 a year to raise a child, and it costs even more if you factor in private school.? That doesn't count the indirect costs like promotions you never got offered or missed job opportunities.?

To help you and your partner decide how many children are right for you, take this test:? Are you in good physical condition - getting enough sleep, eating and exercising right, happy most of the time?? How is your marriage or partnership doing?? If you think a baby will draw you closer and smooth over existing road bumps, experts say you couldn't be more wrong.?

Dr. Singer says there's only one reason to increase your family size.

"We're going to have three children because we love children so much.' That's a good motivation to have a child," said Dr. Singer.

So enjoy parenthood, grow your family if you are prepared and realistic about it and if you really love children and you're good at raising them.? If you're unsure, or are on a different wavelength than your partner, take a pass. Or, at least, wait a while to see if you can reach a compromise.

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