The Financial Implications of a Third Child

Now that life has settled down with two children in our home, my wife and I are starting to look at the decision to have a third child. Our plan always has been to have our children close together in age so that they can be peers to each other (roughly) during their school years, but we never quite hammered out how many we wanted to have, figuring we could cross that bridge when we got there, much as we did with the decision to have our second child.

We’ve arrived at that bridge.

Having enough love to spread around to more children isn’t really a problem. Our evenings (especially before 8 PM) and most of our weekends are completely centered around our children at this point, and the more, the merrier. Adding another child wouldn’t change our day to day lifestyle much at all.

Our biggest concern is the financial aspect. Adding another child would change our financial situation significantly, much more than the leap from one child to two children did. Here’s why.

Child care costs would come very close to matching my wife’s salary. Adding a third child to our daycare bill in one year would bring the weekly total to around $400. This adds up to an annual bill in the range of $21,000, which begins to approach my wife’s after-tax salary.

Our solution to this would be for one of us to become a stay at home parent. I think this is the inevitable solution if we choose to have a third child – one of us would have to drop out of the normal workday lifestyle for about five years to raise our children until they are old enough to all be in school.

We’re also looking at adoption. We are beginning to seriously look at adoption. There are many, many children out there who were dealt a poor nurturing hand right off the bat.

On the other hand, this raises a big question about financial support for these children. Can we afford to feed five mouths, provide them with ample educational and growth opportunities, keep our house, and maintain some modicum of a good life with just one salary? That’s a big question – in fact, it’s the biggest question, really.

Right now, it’s that final question – and the uncomfortable answers to it – that keep us from wanting a third child. We’re not concerned with showing the child love and care, but we are concerned that our two children now might lose opportunities due to taking on the additional commitments. In the end, our desire to have more children is outweighed by concern for our ability to provide opportunities for the children we have now.

I also think it’s sad when genuinely loving parents who want to have another child at home have to consider not doing so because of financial concerns like this. However, every solution to this problem that I can conceive of ends up encouraging people to have more children, particularly people who can’t properly care for them, and that’s overall a detriment to society.

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