Rebecca (52), Martin (53), Erica (24) & Michael (19)
Rebecca tells about their family
We love traveling with our children! Whether going camping with friends for a weekend or going on a cruise to Alaska or Mexico, traveling with two kids is manageable and affordable. I know that we would have had a harder time coordinating schedules, and even just managing logistics like carrying luggage or booking sleeping accommodations with more than two. We have also been able to offer opportunities for our kids to take their friends on trips because we are a smaller family.
Traveling and camping (we did this more when they were younger) has been a lot of fun for our family. Martin and the kids also enjoy skiing, although, they did this more when they were younger. We also tried to help and support the kids’ extracurricular activities (i.e. volleyball for Erica and soccer for Mike). Martin has served as a Scoutmaster for Michael’s Boy Scout troop and they have spent a lot of time together doing things like going on week-long river-rafting trips. Holidays are also fun with extended family. We always try to spend a couple of Sunday nights a month having dinner together and going to a movie or doing a fun activity, like bowling. Now that the kids are young adults and Erica is living away from home, these Sunday evening get-togethers give us an opportunity to check in with them.
We have loved watching our children experience the world. Seeing them develop into amazing, giving, conﬁdent young adults who care about others and who have wonderful talents. There’s nothing better than a hug and a kiss from your child, no matter their age! We’ve also loved each of the stages of growing up that our children have experienced. Their spacing has allowed us to focus on their specialized needs for each of their growing-up stages.
For example, Michael was born the summer before Erica began Kindergarten; when Michael began Elementary School, Erica was just about to start middle school, and so on. Erica is graduating from Westminster College this year and Michael has just ﬁnished his freshman year at Utah Valley University.
I think that Martin would have liked to had one more child, but as someone who lost a parent at a young age (my Dad died when I was 12), I always took into consideration when we were thinking about family size whether or not I could provide for more than two kids if something were to happen to Martin. I also wondered whether or not he could have handled raising more than two kids if I weren’t around. Could I have ﬁnancially been able to take care of more than two kids on my own? Maybe, but I certainly felt conﬁdent that given my schooling and work experience that I could more than aptly manage providing for two, but no more. Martin and I also feel very strongly about minimizing the impact of our family on the environment and our planet as a whole. I personally am a strong proponent of zero population growth. I believe we have moved beyond a time in our society where it was likely that a family might lose children to illness or where children were integral to a family’s earning potential (notably this is still the case for some agrarian societies). I feel complete having only been pregnant twice and enjoying each of my wonderful babies. Do I miss each growing-up stage as it has passed? Most definitely, but then we discover something new about where each of our children is at in any given place or time.
I think that parents have to consider the possibility of challenges that can often affect a child; for example, what if you have a child who develops a serious health concern or who is disabled? What if more than one child has challenges for any reason? Think about the ﬁnancial impact and other resources you’d need to access in order to accommodate these unplanned situations. We have been fortunate to have healthy kids, but even orthodontics for two kids is costly! Think also about how you might have to limit educational or enrichment opportunities for your kids because of family size. We’ve been able to afford to allow both of our children to study abroad. We haven’t had to choose between our children taking advantage of opportunities because we have the resources to provide for them equitably. We think our children have a broadened worldview because they have traveled internationally.
The easy part is the fun, hugs and good times: the sheer joy of watching your children relish life. But, it’s hard when your children experience pain: they might struggle with school or in interactions with others and you just want to take that pain away from them. When my kids cry it’s so painful for me. Sometimes kids go through incredibly tough developmental stages: For some, their teen years are difficult, for others, you don’t know how you’ll get them through toddlerhood because of two-hour tantrums. You get through these times, but it is so helpful when you can really focus on helping your kids sort and get through the tough stuff. Did you feel any pressures about how many children you had, will have, or pressures about when you had them? We never had any pressure from family members one way or another. Although, as Erica got older, folks would start to ask if we were planning to have another child…no pressure, folks were just curious. I miscarried a year before I became pregnant with Michael, so optimally we would have liked to have had a four-year span between our children instead of the 5 ½ year span. Again, those are some of the things you have to think about as you consider planning and spacing. You may not get pregnant when you want to. So don’t wait too long.
If you worry about your kids having the opportunity to be a part of a large family, make sure they have lots of time to spend with friends and/or extended family members that are their own age. Our kids have had great sibling-like relationships with their cousins and other friends that I think have helped them with social development and learning to care about others.