How Many Is Enough?

My oldest son (now 20) has a joke. The more kids we have the more mom wants and the less dad wants. The reason this is funny is because there  is a lot of truth to this.

I’m 45 years old. I don’t have the energy I did just a couple of years ago. I’m constantly tired, and not just that “parent of a young child” kind of tired. My body doesn’t work the way it used to. I sprained my ankle back in January and it still hasn’t healed completely. Middle age is kicking my ass.  I love all my kids. I wouldn’t trade them for anything. Well, a lifetime supply of chocolate. But only for one, and I get to choose. Point is, I have 5 kids and while I don’t regret having any of them, I don’t want to have any more.

My wife, however, does.

She is 41. Her last pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. It was not her first. One of the things she regrets is that her reproductive “career” would end on a bad note. And she does want more kids.  So we come to an impasse. And here is where we veer into “too much information” territory.

You’ve been warned.

Having sex has now become an issue. I want to use a condom or get a vasectomy. Actually, I was supposed to get one a few years ago, but my wife changed her mind about it. No, I’m not going to sneak out and get one without telling her.

She’s been keeping track of her fertility cycle, and while she has not been trying to get pregnant, keeping track of “safe” times, I feel that using extra precautions would be good.

If my wife were to become pregnant and have another child, I would not resent the child, but instead be happy for the love and joy that would enter our house. But, I can feel that I would not be able to be the father I want to be, and I don’t want to begin to even remotely resent my wife for another child.

Our solution? We don’t have sex anymore.

No, I’m not joking. I wish I was.

Did your ideal family size change as you began to have kids? How do you know when you’re done having kids? How have you and your wife handled this discussion? What have you done if your wife moved the goalposts in the middle of the game (to use a sports metaphor)? How have you resolved it if you both have different ideals?

Discuss below in the comments, and join us this Wednesday on Twitter as we have a Live Chat about this topic at 6pst/9est using the #DadsRT hashtag.


The Beginning
About LeftCoastDad

A dad with more kids than is legal in 7 of Canada's 13 territories and provinces


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  1. james says:

    before we got married she wanted 4 and I wanted 2, that was the family each of us grew up with, after having 2 kids I wanted 4 and she wanted 2. It is an ongoing conversation but right now we are both happy where we are and don;t want to try for more kids.

    • Is it okay to laugh at this, James? Because that’s a riot how you both flip flopped in the opposite direction after having kids.

      “…but right now we are both happy where we are…” is a very big part of it for my wife and I as well. If I’m happy and my wife is happy and we are happy with each other, I would think that this is a recipe for raising our kids to the best of our ability. If we throw a potential wrench into that equation, can I say the same with confidence? Hard to say…

  2. Corey says:

    I’m sorry you and your wife don’t agree on this. I can only imagine the friction it must cause. We were very fortunate. After four kids my wife and I both felt like we were done, so it was easy for us. Are either or both of you religious at all? I know many who have sought divine guidance to help them make a decision.
    Some other thoughts:
    * I believe that many women have a strong maternal instinct that we men can’t understand. It’s part of their life purpose and they feel fulfilled by rearing children. It’s kind of like the macho feeling men have (or at least that I have) of being the main provider for the family. If we aren’t the main provider then we feel like failures. Don’t know if your wife feels that way but it might be worth considering.
    * You’re youngest is two and oldest is 20? How much older is the number four child than the two year old? If there is a significant difference of four or more years then having another may provide a playmate for the two year old.
    * Have you asked the other kids what they think? I’m not sure if you should. Just curious.
    * Do the older kids help care for the younger ones? That might take some of the load off of you. I know a couple that are in their mid 40’s and have seven kids, the oldest being 20 and the youngest two are under the age of three. The older kids smother the younger ones with love and affection and will often fight each other to determine who gets to care for the girls. It makes mom and dads jobs much easier.
    * I don’t quite understand the no sex decision. Is that your decision so she doesn’t get pregnant or is it her way of “punishing” you. Either way it’s not healthy and perhaps counseling might be in order
    * Regarding your comment about not having the energy to be the dad you want to be, I get that. I’m in my mid 40’s and am feeling it. But is there any dad out there that is exactly the dad they want to be? I think most dads would admit that we all fall short in various ways. Plus, what you lack in energy, you’ll probably make up for in experience and wisdom, something your older kids didn’t have the benefit of.
    After rereading my comments it makes it sound like I’m siding with your wife. I’m not. I’m just offering what came to my mind as I read about your side of the argument.
    Regardless, good luck. I hope it works out for you.

  3. Amanda says:

    ” and I don’t want to begin to even remotely resent my wife for another child”

    Iwonder, have you considered the possibility of the reverse happening. That your wife may resent you for denying her another chance at what she lost.

    I’m afraid this miscarriage may have a much larger affect on her than you know. There are so many other factors involved with this last one (such as feeling as if she is at fault, therefore sealing her own fate in the baby making department of her marriage, and life). Have the two of you considered seeking therapy? Its possible that even though she’s been through this more than once, or even BECAUSE she’s had so many, she may not be emotionally able to deal with it properly. Guilt can do some pretty effed up ish to us.

    I wonder also, if you’ve considered being foster parents? It seems there’s so much love stll left for her to give, maybe a situation to share with children who aren’t so blessed to be born into a healthy loving family could benefit by sharing yours for a while. I’ve yet to fully research fostering (its something my hubby and I have considered for the future) but I believe foster families are given some monetary help for the care of the child.

    One last note. If my husband requested we start using condoms after how many years, that would bring a whole world of trust issues to light. I may doubt his fidelity for one, or I may think he doesn’t trust me to keep track of safe days. I may even feel he thinks I’m trying to trick him into getting me pregnant.

    You need to MAKE time to discuss these things. I believe a compromise could be made, where you follow the calendar TOGETHER, and allow her ” hope” for a happy accident. Above all else, try to at least get HER into some form of therapy, to help her work through the last miscarriage.

    Best wishes

  4. Left Coast Dad says:

    Thing is, I’m willing to talk. Any time. She isn’t. It’s frustrating.

    I’m actually much more “maternal” in many ways than my wife. I’m the one who wanted kids initially, she didn’t want to “become some vessel”

    And yes, she does feel like it’s partly her fault. That’s also part of why she wants another child, so that her “reproductive career” (so to speak) wouldn’t end on a bad note. I think (aside from everything else) this is a wrong reason to get pregnant.

    We kept track of “safe days” and that’s how she got pregnant last time.

    Our kids are 2, 5, 7 & 9. As far as having them help, they have school and whatever. Plus, they don’t get up in the middle of the night to change diapers, feed, walk a crying baby, etc. It’s not about playmates, it’s about my ability to be a parent, and her ability to carry the pregnancy to term.

    Corey, you’re in your 40s, but how many kids do you have? How old are they? How old will they and you be if you had another child? My point is I’m seeing my limits as a father and don’t want to get stretched even thinner.

    Amanda, we’ve considered being foster parents. The troubles we had with our oldest sort of took us out of that realm. We dealt with foster families a little, but that’s a completely different story. I don’t want to sour you on it though. It’s just not something we can really do.

    Therapy? She’s been. The emotional trauma of the miscarriage has been dealt with. Sure it still lingers, but then again so does the sting of having to have sent our oldest son to boarding school, the first miscarriage, the second, etc. We aren’t silently grieving over this loss, so that’s really not the issue at hand, but does play into matters.

This is what I think...