For various reasons (just one being economic), Jeanine and I have been talking lately about whether we will have a second child. I think the decision to add to our family is just as important as the decision was to start one… perhaps, even more important. The expectation is that if you have one child, then you’ll likely have another. It’s almost a given. But should it be?

A report (PDF) by the USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion released last week indicates a middle-income family with a child born last year will spend about $221,000 raising that child through age 17. This averages out to $13,000 per year although annual expenditures typically increase with the age of the child. Housing is identified as the largest single expense, followed by food and child care/education costs.

Children are expensive. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. But people put so much emphasis on other factors that finances often lose some weight in the decision process. The one we hear the most is the case against being an only child. Of course, we’re considering the pros and cons of Sam being our one and only.

There’s also the guilt factor when considering one child over two scenarios. Family and friends are quick to vocalize their opinions on this subject, but really, we’re the only ones that can determine what the ideal size of our family should be.

Also, I think one of the best gifts we can give Sam is to be a loving couple as well as loving parents. A recently divorced friend with two young children said to me, “I think that my friends with one kid do way better [in their marriages/partnerships] than my friends with two kids. She followed up that comment by saying that women who want to work and have kids should have one kid.

I think it’s a really hard decision to make. I almost wish that money could be the overriding factor and then the choice would be easy for me. But there are so many other things to consider… and we’re doing a lot of soul-searching on the topic. As always, your comments are welcomed below.

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