Poll: How Many Children Do You Want?

One blessing that I’m particularly grateful for is that I got all the children I want. When my youngest reaches her milestones, I usually first think, “Yay!  I’ll never have to do that again.”  And, maybe, sometimes, there’s a bit of a pang afterwards that it’s the last time, but it lasts for about two minutes.

The more I get to talk to others about this very personal decision, the more I realize how few of us get that.

I know this question is personal and sometimes painful.  I hope you’ll answer the poll and then, share your story with us in the comments section.


EmilyCC lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her spouse and three children. She currently serves as a stake Just Serve specialists, and she recently returned to school to become a nurse. She is a former editor of Exponent II and a founding blogger at The Exponent.

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31 Responses

  1. TopHat says:

    I am very happy with the two I have and am very content with that, but I leave open the possibility of another in the future.

  2. Keri Brooks says:

    This is a really timely post for me because today is my 30th birthday and I’m still single. I’ve always wanted 3 kids, but over the past few years I’ve had to start coming to terms with the realization that that may not happen. (I’m also dealing with some health issues that may affect fertility, so my singleness might be a moot point anyway.)

    I’m saving up to freeze my eggs so that if I don’t marry until past my naturally fertile years I’ll still have some eggs from my fertile years that I can use to have kids. I’m really starting to feel the ticking of the biological clock, and I’m concerned that I might jump into a hasty marriage just so I can have kids. By freezing my eggs, I’ll be hitting the snooze button on the biological clock so I can take the time to find the right partner without having to worry about losing precious time.

    I’ve also considered adoption. I think adoption is a wonderful thing, but I want at least one genetically related child. So I’ll probably have a mix of genetically related and adopted children.

    • marta says:

      Happy Birthday Keri!

    • Seeking my family says:

      Happy birthday, Keri. I think you are BRILLIANT for checking into freezing options. I have done IVF 4 times, and had no result– partly my body- partly other things… but anyway, because I know a stupid amount about this, I just have some things for you to look into so you make a really smart, and well-informed choice.

      -I have been told that eggs do not survive defrost as readily as do embryos. So, perhaps consider a sperm donor and freeze embryos as well as your eggs, so you have a better result.

      -IVF costs about the same all up as adoption. LDS family services caps their fees at $10,000, but if you go overseas, you will need about $40,000- (to cover travel and time off work as well as fees, pretty close to out of pocket IVF). For domestic adoption, you will likely also have to provide for ongoing contact with the biological mothers, so factor that in as well per year, depending on what you are willing to do (800 phone number for her to call the child, or travel for her/the child.) Most domestic placements are children with disabilities, even something as simple as cleft pallet. Make sure you can afford to pay for this out of pocket if you have private insurance, or if you live in a country with socialized medicine, that the country will allow you to bring the child home, with their conditions (there could be immigrations bans in place to “protect” tax payers from footing certain adoption health costs).

      Anyway– these are the latest figures I have come up with (DH and I have been at this for 15 years now), so before you take this is golden information- look at the costs in your medical plans, your state and what is most affordable to you long-term.

  3. CatherineWO says:

    When I got married 39 years ago, I thought I wanted six children (which is what my mother had). I quit at four, which was two more than my body ever should have given birth to. What then surprised me was that we later added two (very temporary) foster daughters who have stayed very close to me as they have married and had children, so now I find myself with 21 grandchildren, which is wonderful in its own way, but almost embarrassing in the more liberal political circles of my friends. So, though I love each one of my adult children and all of their children, sometimes it seems like way too many people. (I’m not sure that came our right, because I really do value each one of them, but it’s just not at all what I expected 39 years ago.)

  4. honey says:

    I have six bio children and one step. Life got messy But the children and the resulting 24 (so far grand children) grand dogs and cats are along with my husband (who I worship :)) are worth every mess and crisis overcome. My life is nearly perfect. When I chat with my friends who don’t have any grandchildren, usually because their own two kids have chosen different lives with no children, they are sad about having no close family. They have great lives but they’re still sad about it.

  5. This poll was a little difficult for me to answer. I’m still not sold on the whole having kids thing, but I think that’s because it’s not the right time. I’m in my early 20s, about to graduate and plan to go on get a MFA and/or MA. For me personally, I don’t think I could handle going to school and having a kid. I’m also am working on my depression–I feel like I need to get that under control before I even consider having kids. If I do decide to have kids, I would like one or two. And depending on my fertility–I might adopt one or both.

    Of course, most of my desire to have children is because of my husband. Not that he’s pushing me or anything. I just think he would make an really amazing father. And I think if I can get my own life straightened out, I might be a pretty decent parent myself.

  6. Erin says:

    I wish there was an option like “I want more children but I can’t handle more.”

    I’d always wanted four, but after two, and after much praying and pondering, I knew I was done. I have since been diagnosed with cyclothymia, and the stress of any more would have resulted in craziness (!) for myself and the kiddos. I’m so grateful for that spiritual answer and that I hearkened to it.

  7. Ben S says:

    12.5 years of biologically inexplicable infertility, even after fertility drugs.

  8. amelia says:

    36, no kids, in a wonderful relationship I hope lasts but which won’t turn into marriage for at least a couple years, so the chances of children are slim. Especially since my partner is nearly a decade older than me and feels like he’s probably past the point in his life when he could have kids. It’s not impossible, but it’s pretty damn unlikely that I’ll have kids.

    I want them. Always have. Six or seven years ago, the thought that I’d never have children was enough to seriously upset me. It was hard to watch people around me with their kids (though not friends and family; I’ve never felt jealous of or upset by the happiness of those close to me–for some reason it was watching strangers with children that got to me). I thought about having them on my own, either by adopting or through in vitro fertilization using a sperm donor. But my life circumstances wouldn’t allow for that until I’m 39 o r 40. So I had to reconcile myself to not having kids. Which I’ve done. Most days that’s just fine. I have a lot of nieces and nephews, whom I adore. My friends have kids, and I get to be part of their lives. Once in a while it’s very hard, but those times come more and more infrequently.

    Frankly, I’d rather have a partner than children any day, especially one as wonderful as the partner I’ve found. So if my relationship lasts (which I hope and think it will), then I will count myself deeply blessed and deal with the occasional pangs that accompany not having children.

  9. Two of Three says:

    I am raising three of the most delightful human beings I know. We lost a daughter at birth, but I figure she is in my future somewhere, so technically, I have 4 girls. I have bad pregnancies, resulting in preemies, so I could not have had another. When we first got married, my husband wanted 6 kids, like his mom. But when we started having them, he realized how much work they are and rethought his original number!! I am very comfortable with 3 kids, like my mom had. I wonder if people tend to have roughly the same number of kids as they came from. Thank you for the reminder that each one of them is a blessing I should not take for granted.

  10. DefyGravity says:

    I don’t want kids. I’ve never wanted kids. And recently I’ve been coming to terms with the fact that it’s okay for me to feel that way. It’s okay for me to say, I don’t want kids and that may never change. For a long time I never thought I’d be able to make that decision. Now I have to figure out what that might mean for my life, as well as how to deal with others’ reactions to it. Choosing to have kids is a big and life-altering decision. I’m discovering that choosing not to have kids is also a big and life-altering decision, although many wouldn’t think so.

  11. ZD Eve says:

    Neither my husband nor I ever really thought about how many children we wanted, since it took us so long to have the first one. (We had our first child after 12 1/2 years of marriage, after we’d essentially given up, which I suspect is some sort of Mormon record.) We were extremely lucky to have a second, and although I think we’re done, given my age and health and long history of infertility, I’m surprised at how sad I feel about it sometimes. We’re so lucky to have our two, and knowing couples who haven’t been able to have any, I feel ungrateful in my occasional dissatisfaction, but part of me wishes that our two had come ten years ago so we could have a third, or even a fourth. But if I’m honest with myself, I also don’t know how well I would have handled four children. The thought has crossed my mind that my infertility may have saved me from being a more exhausted, overwhelmed mother than I already am.

    My children’s babyhood was so unexpected and came and went so fast. Although I’m immensely grateful they’re growing up and needing me less intensely, I’m also wistful. I’ve never doted on babies and children in general–only my own–so I’m really surprised at my own wistfulness. But I also recognize that I’d likely feel that at the end no matter how many children I had.

  12. Ziff says:

    This is a bit of a tangent, but I’m so grateful to live in a time when it matters how many kids I want, when there’s actually something I can do about it. I know this is cold comfort for people who want kids and can’t have them, or can’t have as many as they like. But I do think it represents such great progress.

  13. alex w. says:

    I haven’t yet been married for a year, and we don’t have any immediate plans for kids. It probably won’t be an option for 5+ years since my husband is in a Ph.D. program right now, but that’s okay with me because in 5 years I’ll be 28, and that’s fine. My parents were about that age when they started having kids, so I guess that’s my roundabout way of giving myself permission to put if off for a while.
    I think we want to have 2 kids, but we’re leaving that decision for a later date.

  14. Rebecca says:

    I have infertility, so I don’t have any kids yet. I’ve always wanted a big family, but I’ve come to terms with the fact that things happen when the time is right. Also, I know the Lord has a plan for each of us, so I’ve been trying to put full faith and trust in His plan for me. My husband and I are thinking of starting the adoption process in a few months, but I’d still like to keep seeing doctors to see if it’s even possible to have our own biological children. I’m 26 so I’m still pretty young-ish, but I’d still like to start having kids asap so I can enjoy them at their younger ages before I get too much older.

  15. Miri says:

    I’ve been married for four years (in just a few weeks) and we’re not talking about kids yet. I was seriously baby-hungry for the first few years of our marriage and have had one miscarriage… But I kind of had an epiphany last year and realized that I am okay with not having children until I’m a little older. The same (very Mormon) part of me that thought I’d done a good job “waiting” to get married until I was 23 was panicking about being 24, 25, and then 26 and not yet having started. Now I realize that it is a very good thing for my husband and me that we haven’t had any yet. I don’t know when we’re going to start, and I’m okay with that (even happy about it). I also don’t know how many we’re going to have. I’m one of six and I used to want to have a bajillion kids myself, at least six and probably more. Now I’m fairly certain I won’t be having that many. We don’t have a set number or anything and I’m sure it will change, but I’m thinking I’d be fine with 3-4, maybe 5 if all goes very well.

  16. Dee says:

    My husband and I do not have any kids, nor are we planning on starting our family for another couple of years (even though I’m in my early 30s’), on some level because my head can’t wrap itself around the idea of caring for even one child, let alone more. But, I do hope that my body gives me the strength and energy to have 4. I am the oldest of 5 and consider having sibling one of life’s greatest blessing and I hope to be able to give that to my children.

  17. LovelyLauren says:

    My husband and I have been married for a little over a year and are probably going to wait a few more before we start trying. I’m only 21, so I’m not worried about waiting too long. I guess that is one of the perks of getting married so young. We want 3 or 4. I really treasure my relationships with my three siblings, so I want my kids to have that as well. At the same time, I’ve seen in large families (7+) where it seems that the kids and parents aren’t particularly close at all, so I wouldn’t want more than 5.

    A lot of young women my age who got married around the same time as me are pregnant or already have babies and there are times when I think I really want one, but I’m starting a master’s degree and would like to work without kids for a while. I just want to make sure that when I do decide to have a baby, I can really enjoy it and devote my time to it without resenting all the things I can’t enjoy as fully.

    • “I just want to make sure that when I do decide to have a baby, I can really enjoy it and devote my time to it without resenting all the things I can’t enjoy as fully.”

      Amen. Exactly my feeling.

      • Jessica says:

        I think this is the one thing I regret the most. I was not ready to have kids when I did. Ten years later I feel like I am finally putting my own life back together. I wish I had waited and enjoyed it more.

  18. Singlee says:

    I’ll be 45 this May, and I’m still single. I’ve always wanted children, but only with marriage to the right man. For years I’ve felt sadness and frustration that the Lord hasn’t seen fit to give me the blessings of marriage and motherhood, while every one of my friends enjoy them. The last few years, though, have been a period of change for me; I think I understand better the path that God is showing me, and it hasn’t been as much of an issue, especially knowing the health problems I’ve been going through. Having and raising babies would have killed me, I think. And two years ago, I got a puppy, and confirmed that opinion. Dogs are hard!

    I still have a little ache inside me, and I see in my mind’s eye a little girl who looks a lot like me, whose name is Ike. (Ina Kaelyn.). But miracles can still happen, maybe. I just keep on keeping on!

  19. charlene says:

    One wonderful and amazingly lovely kid, desperately want another one, pretty sure I could handle another one (if my time as a nursery leader was good for nothing else, it convinced me I could handle two kids), but my husband is not sure he can handle another one. (I checked the “want more but can’t handle it” box.) We’re trying to work through our issues with another kid — I think the chances are about 50% that he’ll come around to it. If not, I will mourn it, because I always wanted at least two kids (actually, I wanted three, but I am not sure either of us could handle three).

  20. Sherry says:

    I have a very different answer to this post. I’m in my late 50s and have nine children, from a former marriage. I married at nineteen at BYU and the prevailing attitude then was have lots of children, so we did. I had six children under the age of eight when I took part of the grocery money, went to a womens clinic and was fitted for a diaphram. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. X was livid when I told him and if it came up somehow he made sure I knew he still thought I was being evil. Doesn’t that seem so wrong? I then had two more planned children followed by two miscarriages. When my oldest kids were getting off missions, getting married, etc I became pregnant at age 43 with my last child. X wanted me to have more children, even preached to me from the CHI about the evils of BC again. We divorced when my youngest was three years old. X was abusive to me for 29 years and BC, sex, and abuse was why I chose to divorce him. Looking back, if I would have the strength I have now, I probably wouldn’t have had so many children. It was HARD to be a “mother of many.” And some of my adult children do feel they were short-changed growing up – we weren’t wealthy but never starved. I feel I followed what the church/X said was “right” in having so many children and valiantly tried to “choose the right.” I sometimes wonder what my life might have been like with fewer children. Yet I “knew” each of my children before they were born so I guess it was meant to be. Allof my children have fewer children that I did. They counsel with each other and have made good choices. I would NEVER tell anyone to have as many children as I did. But, on the flip side, I know if I ever need anything as I grow older, my kids will take care of me and that is worth all the turmoil and trauma of raising them.ALSO – daughter #1 had infertility issues, now has four adopted kids. Son #1 had five kids. Dau #3 has one child. Dau#4 has 2 biological kids and three stepkids. Dau #4 has one son. Son #2 has three children. Son #3 has one son. and Son #4 has no children and doesn’t want any (he is newlywed and his wife wants kids later so we’ll see). Dau #5 is only 15 and says she doesn’t know. She LOVES having so many sibs, nieces and nephews but isn’t into much babysitting, etc. I always feel a little angst hearing younger women talking about how many children to have and wish I was able to have those choices when I was younger. Having the choice is very powerful and right.

  21. Katie says:

    My husband and I were the typical BYU story: married at 18.5 (me) and baby boy at 20. We had our little girl two years later, and now I very happily have a 10 year IUD. We tell our moms (who both had big families) that I’m only 24, tons of time left to expand our family, although we both know we won’t. Two is perfect for us. I grew up as #3 of 6, and I always felt lost in the mix. We love our two precious babies, and we love that we can give them enough individual attention. AND I especially look forward to us being empty-nesters when I’m 40. Woooo!

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