Getting Ready for Second Child

QUESTION

Dear Mr. Dad,
My wife wants to have another child, but I'm not sure I'm ready. The first one keeps us so busy already that we barely have time for the both of us. What should I do?

ANSWER

For a lot of couples, the question about whether to have another child isn't really a question, it's a given. For others, though, the issue is more complicated. And most of the problems have to do with exactly what you're going through in your home: One spouse wants a second (or third) child while the other isn't nearly as excited about the prospect. Unfortunately, there's no easy solution to this problem.

The time crunch, as you mention, is a common concern of prospective second-time parents. But it's usually not the only thing they're worried about. So sit down and make a list of other factors as well. You might want to start with these:

  • Finances: Can you really afford to have another baby? If you answer No, does not having enough money really make a difference for you?
  • Your own childhood: Were you an only child or did you have brothers and sisters? How did you like growing up that way?
  • Ability to love more than one child. Are you worried that you won't be able to love your second child as much as the first one? While this is an incredibly common worry, the simple answer is that your capacity to love your children -- no matter how many you have -- is infinite.
  • Labor and delivery: Are you worried about putting your partner through another painful pregnancy and labor? Since she's the one going through it, leave that decision to her. Consider, though, that while being a parent is exhausting enough, trying to be a parent while you're pregnant is something altogether different. Is that okay for your partner or not?
  • Your firstborn: Do you have a child with a difficult temperament? If so, keep in mind that your next child's temperament may not exactly mirror your firstborn's.

When you've put your list together and had a chance to think through each of your concerns, schedule a time to talk them over with your wife. You'll probably find that even though she's more gung-ho than you are right now, she shares many of them with you.
-- "Mr. Dad"

Armin Brott

A nationally recognized parenting expert, Armin Brott is the bestselling author of The Expectant Father: Facts, Tips and Advice for Dads-To-Be, The New Father: A Dad's Guide to the First Year, Fathering Your Toddler, The Military Father: A Hands-on Guide for Deployed Dads, and four other books on fatherhood. He has written on parenting, fatherhood, and health for the New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, Newsweek, and dozens of other periodicals. He also hosts "Positive Parenting," which airs on a dozen stations in the US and worldwide on the American Forces Network. Armin lives with his family in Oakland, California. You may visit his website at mrdad.com to learn more.