How Many Children to Have: How to Figure Out What’s Right for Your Family

With the growth and evolution of our species, we are faced with a never-ending debate: How many children to have? In this article, I will attempt to provide an answer that is reliable for everyone.

The “how many children do you have” is a question that has been asked for generations. How to answer this question, can be difficult. However, the “How Many Children to Have: How to Figure Out What’s Right for Your Family” article will help you figure out what is best for your family.

Vintage family with 4 kids standing in front of car 1920s 1930s.

A profound piece of family planning advice was once given to me by a hairy old hippy of a photographer from a competing publication.

It was spring 2003, and my wife had just given birth to our first kid. I was working as a reporter at the time. I returned to the newsroom after five days at home, where my job for the day was to cover a raging house fire. I dashed to the fire and jotted down the facts, then wandered about in front of the blazing logs on the hose-soaked road, seeking for one more quotation.

We started up a chat with the elderly photographer who had strolled over.

He remarked, “So you just had a baby.” “Congratulations.” “You know what to do now?” he questioned after a long pull on his cigarette.

With a shake of my head, I expressed my dissatisfaction with the situation.

“As soon as feasible, have another child.” He chucked his cigarette and stomped on it. “If a guy decides to have one child, he is deciding to build a family.” Amigo, that’s how it works.”

Years later, I see how wise the photojournalist’s counsel was.

According to statistics, the typical North American family desires 2.5 children but only has 1.86. Financial strain, societal demands, and reproductive concerns are all possible triggers.

The final issue is chosen in some cases by choice and in others by chance. Even if the answer is zero, it’s a question that every guy must struggle with at some point in his life.

So, how do you plan (or don’t plan) for the number of children you’ll have? Take into account the following:

1. Your aspirations as a pair

Having a child is a life-changing choice, and if both couples aren’t convinced, tension and resentment may develop.

Discuss it with your partner. Allow the debate to linger for many years. Allow this choice to float about on your table for a time, with no obvious place to land it.

Each new baby brings with it a new set of challenges. It is often more convenient for couples to have fewer children. When a couple has two children, it is much simpler to travel or dine at a restaurant than when they have eight children.

However, some couples want more, which is also OK. Perhaps you’ve always fantasized of starting your own baseball club. Perhaps you’d want to form your own family rock band. It was a good fit for Hanson.

This is a choice that should never be made just after a baby is born. Most of your Bingo balls are still floating about in the draw-tank with a new baby in the home, and this choice must be taken while your and your spouse’s wits are at their clearest.

2. The age and health of your wife.

According to experts, the optimal time for a woman to have children is between the ages of 20 and 35. It is possible to have additional children after that, although it is more challenging.

Even the healthiest pregnancies have an effect on a woman’s physique. Morning sickness, body pains, sleep difficulties, leg cramps, numb or tingling hands, indigestion, disorientation, and other symptoms are common throughout pregnancy.


She may have stretch marks, varicose veins, hip discomfort, a leaking bladder, postpartum depression, and permanently wrinkled tummy skin after giving birth.

Your wife is a powerful woman, but each child is a force to be reckoned with. Consider her first.

3. Your age and physical condition.

Men may generate children physiologically long into their elderly years. Experts point out, however, that when it comes to a man’s all-important fluid, the required child-producing numbers decrease with each passing year. Babies fathered by older males are also more likely to have genetic abnormalities.

Aside from the possibility for problems, being a good father just requires a tremendous amount of physical and emotional energy. So, if you’re 30 and have always fantasized of having a five-person family, get cracking, dude. If you’re 50 and desire another child, keep in mind that by the time your next child graduates from high school, you’ll be retired.

4. Your financial situation.

Having a kid isn’t inexpensive, but after your baby comes, you’ll discover that your financial situation isn’t as awful as it once looked. When you set your mind to it, it’s amazing how you can make ends meet.

Even yet, having each child will cost you money. Diapers, wipes, clothing, toys, strollers, medication, food, and health insurance are all necessities for any kid. You may need to purchase a larger vehicle or home.

The question of who will look after the kid is a part of the bigger cost consideration. Will you choose to be a stay-at-home dad? Will one of your parents be able to assist you? Will your wife leave her work, and if so, for how long? Or will you both return to work and foot the bill for childcare?

The cost of daycare, especially for an infant, varies substantially depending on where you reside. The National Association of Childcare Resource & Referral Agencies estimates that monthly costs vary from $300 to $1,500.

Prepare to dig if you want another kid.

5. Your marriage’s temperament.

Having more children typically means a noisier home, a more chaotic house, and a less neat house.

That has been described as enjoyable by some.

Purgatory is how some people describe it.

You and your wife may be gregarious, easygoing people who are unaffected by crowds. If that’s the case, go ahead and procreate to your heart’s delight.

However, if you and your wife like plenty of peace and quiet, lingering over leisurely meals, and escaping for weekend excursions to Aspen, a smaller family may be the better choice.

A marriage’s temperament and stability can have a role. It takes a lot of patience, love, and flexibility to be a good parent. If a marriage is in trouble, the children will suffer the brunt of it.

6. The issue of individual attention.

If your family is larger, you will have to spend less time with each kid.

It’s a compromise. Despite having less time and money to focus on each kid individually, parents with bigger families report that their children are seldom lonely. Smaller families are able to devote more resources to each kid, but their children have less sibling contact.


Positively, at Christmastime, you either have one happy child with a stockpile of gifts to himself, or you have a swarm of joyful kids all playing with oranges and wrapping paper.

In any case, it’s a joyful, happy, happy situation.

7. The unidentified element

Even if you construct a list and consider all the practical issues, your choice may still come down to something you can’t put on paper.

It might be a gut instinct. It might be a matter of faith. It may be summarized as “you know when you know.”

My wife and I experienced something similar. We had two children and thought we’d reached the end of our journey. We now have three, due to Providence, and we’re having a terrific time, thank you very much.

What are your plans for you and your wife?

Some people believe that having a big family is the only way to live a happy life. Others argue that the globe is already overcrowded.

Stephen King’s description of how he and his wife, Tabitha, decided on the number of children in their family is one of my favorites. King said in his book On Writing,

“By the time we’d been married three years, we’d had two children.” They weren’t planned or unexpected; they just showed up when they did, and we were happy to have them.”

Let your choice as a pair be yours and yours alone, in my opinion. You’ll know what to do when the time comes to make a choice.

Vintage family with 2 kids sitting in front of house.

Here’s what a few guys had to say about how they came to their conclusions and what the greatest and worst parts of having a certain number of children are.

—Only one child—

Ricky Clark, an Air Force Reserve recruiter, is 52 years old.

Because my wife has certain medical issues, we didn’t expect to be able to have children at first. She was able to give birth to a healthy daughter, thankfully. Following that, my wife and I attempted to have additional children, but we had several miscarriages, which limited the amount of children we could have.

The nicest part about having just one kid is that you can focus all of your parenting efforts on one youngster. When a family unit consists of just three members, a nice sort of triangle relationship arises. And since holidays were less expensive, we were able to travel more often!

The most difficult aspect of having just one kid is that the youngster has minimal peer-level companionship. As a consequence, I believe our daughter grew up with too much adult company and not enough children influence.

—Two youngsters—

Jon Eddy, a 38-year-old airline pilot,

We planned to have two children since I travel a lot and my wife is frequently home alone with the kids, but we also recognize that some choices are beyond our control.

The nicest part about having two kids is that my wife and I can devote more time to each of them and concentrate on growing them rather than just running a family. It is also less difficult to travel.


The most difficult aspect is probably because our children have such strong friendships that I believe it stops them from venturing out and establishing new friends in their school, church, and neighborhood.

—Three youngsters—

Geoffrey Baron, a web developer, is 35 years old.

I don’t recall ever discussing the amount of children we would have with my wife. I come from a family of three, and she comes from a family of four, so I suppose we always assumed we’d have three to four children. We simply knew we were done once the third was born.

On a strictly practical level, it’s fantastic to be able to properly fill a normal-sized vehicle, but we still have a small group that likes to hang out together.

Unfortunately, my kid has lately asked whether we would be willing to give him a younger sibling (he has two sisters). The fact that there are only three of them is undoubtedly the most difficult component.

—A family of four—

John Cook is a 45-year-old university professor.

When we married, we decided that we wanted at least a few children. The ultimate number of four and the distance between them was a result of “spur-of-the-moment” selections as well as exhaustion from attempting to find a female (we have four boys). More seriously, our life circumstances and transitions influenced our choices (for example, I began graduate school between the births of the two sets of boys), and when we reached four children, my wife Kathy just felt “done,” and I prefer to believe her intuition.

Our four are purposely separated in pairs (each with an 18-month gap, but with a four-year gap between the pairs). As a consequence, as children, the elder and younger pair became each other’s “best friends.” At the same time, the age disparity between the two sets of boys meant they had to get along with brothers who were in quite different phases of life (high students and elementary school children, for example, had very different perspectives on the world!).

Vehicles are one of the most difficult elements of raising four children, since front bench seats are no longer available. With space for nine, our ancient Volkswagen Bus has served us well!

The sensation of “beginning again” that comes with spacing our pairs of boys four years apart is perhaps the most difficult challenge: just as the older ones were learning to strap themselves into the vehicle, a new newborn and car seat had to be dealt with. It’s the same problem when it comes to eating, toilet training, and so on.

—A total of five children—

Journeyman millwright John Berdan, 32,

My wife and I married at the age of 19, and our first child arrived at the age of 21. We’ve left the number of children we want to have up to God, which means we haven’t sought to become pregnant and haven’t tried to avoid becoming pregnant. My wife and I are both young, so when age comes into play and pregnancy becomes problematic for my wife, we’ll decide what to do.


Because I’m an extrovert who enjoys crowds and action, having five children means there’s always something to do. There’s never a boring moment in this house. My wife is more of an introvert, but she loves kids, so it works for her as well.

Giving each kid adequate one-on-one time is the most difficult aspect of parenting five children. We’ve discovered that we need to spend time with each kid on purpose in order to pull him or her out, or else they’ll be neglected.

—A total of six children—

Eric Anderson, a 55-year-old construction contractor,

My family had four children while I was growing up, and my wife’s had six, so we both expected to have a bigger family — at least four children — when we married. My wife and I questioned each other whether we were done after four children were born, and we weren’t. As a result, we had five, then six. We pondered whether having more children was irresponsible at first, but you can’t let society push you. We experienced a few medical issues after our sixth child, which is why we stopped.

Our children are now between the ages of 17 and 29, and we’ve all become friends in certain ways. We’re more of a bunch of friends. They adore each other, as well as their parents. We always have a great time whenever we get together.

The financial aspect of having six children was the most difficult. You can’t rely on a consistent salary as a contractor. But we’ve always managed to get by.

—There are seven children—

Paul Anderson, co-founder and director of Skatechurch Inc., is 49 years old.

Originally, we intended to have two children, but a sermon given by a preacher altered our minds. He has four children and spoke on God’s view of children as a gift rather than a burden. We now have four boys and three daughters and couldn’t imagine life without them. Because of my wife’s age and the health hazards associated with pregnancy, we decided to call it a day.

The nicest part about having seven children is that our home is always cheerful, energetic, and full of interaction and amusement.

The most difficult aspect of having seven children is that they use five gallons of milk every week. In other words, the cost of food, clothing, and other necessities is three times that of a family of two.

We wouldn’t exchange our children for anything!

Question: How many children do you have (or aspire to have eventually), and why are they important to you?

Question: How many children do you have (or aspire to have eventually), and why are they important to you?

Marcus Brotherton contributes to Art of Manliness on a regular basis.

Visit to read his blog, Men Who Lead Well.




The “average number of kids per family” is a question that many people have. The average number of kids to have depends on the size and lifestyle of your family, as well as your personal preference.

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