20 Pros and Cons of Having a Third Child

Scooter* is currently loving life at 8 years old. He lives in Washington state, is enrolled in his school’s gifted and talented program, and has recently earned his green belt in his preferred martial art. Some people mistake him for a girl because he likes to keep his hair long. You cannot help but to appreciate his smile as he pursues something that he is passionate about, whether that happens to be Angry Birds, Star Wars, or a root beer float.

You would also find that his smile is very contagious. He encourages others whenever he can with a kind word. There is always a path toward fun in his eyes.

Scooter is also the third child in his family. Although his circumstances are a little unique because his older siblings are twins, there is no denying the fact that his passion for life and quest for knowledge is something that makes the world better. When you have a third child, even with the potential difficulties that exist with that family dynamic, this is how you get to change the world.

If you are thinking about an expansion of your family, then here are some of the pros and cons of having a third child to consider.

* We changed his name to respect his and his family’s privacy.

List of the Pros of Having a Third Child

1. Your family receives more to love, and they also love you back.
It never hurts to have another child in your family who is willing to love you unconditionally in their first years of life. Because you have already gone through the experience of raising a little one, this process doesn’t seem so bad the third time around because you feel like you know what to expect. Having more arms to offer hugs is always something to treasure, even as they get older and don’t always want to be seen around their parents.

It is true that adding a third child will bring a new level of exhaustion to your life that never really goes away with all of the extracurricular activities going on. You will also discover that you wouldn’t change any of it once you go through it.

2. You can relieve the stages of development you might have missed with your other kids.
There are demands placed on parents today that can take them away from the first moments that children experience. It can be devastating to miss the first steps, words, or giggles that your kiddo offers to the world. When you have a third child, then these opportunities come around again. Although you can never go back in time to enjoy the moment with your older two kids, having these special opportunities with your next one can help to heal your heart a little bit.

3. Another sibling in the house is a good thing as your kids get older.
Having two siblings in your family is a nice structure. When you make it three, then you’ve got more of a gang that can be self-sufficient as they get older. There are more games to play with an added sibling, additional trouble to find that they think of as fun, and another set of opinions that can provide new family insights that you might not have ever considered before. There will also be the moments when the older two try to convince the third to do something that they know will cause trouble, but you’ve got to roll with the punches here. As the kids start getting older, you will treasure a trio and how they define your family.

Then there is the added benefit that an odd number means that you’ve got a tie-breaking vote whenever you’re trying to decide on an activity.

4. It prolongs the issue of the “empty nest” that you will experience one day.
When you add a third sibling to your family, then you are prolonging the amount of time that it will take for you and your spouse or partner to be alone in your home one day. Even if you only have a couple of extra years added to this timeline, it can be enough to help you hold onto the sense of purpose that you experience right now. Who doesn’t want to add to their family memories even more?

You will also discover that there is more time available to devote to your third child because the older two have more self-sufficiency – even if there is only a year or two of difference in their age. That means you have more opportunities to pursue extracurricular activities as a family, such as scouts, sports, or after-school events.

5. Having a third child is emotionally fulfilling in a variety of ways.
Some couples decide that they want to pursue having a third child because they have two boys or two girls and they want a son or daughter to fulfill their family structure. Others want to have another baby because it fulfills them deeply on an emotional level. Although some might argue that having additional children drains the resources of the family, community, or planet, there is also the benefit to consider that this additional sibling could change the world in unique ways one day.

Having a third child will place them in a category with the likes of Jennifer Lawrence, Madonna, and James Middleton. It is definitely a change in your family dynamics, but it is one that that most couples usually see as making them better.

6. The transition is not as intense as you would expect it to be.
When you went from one child to two, there is an excellent chance that the experience felt like a large weight compressing on your chest. Some parents start out with twins or get their third right away with triplets, but that is an entirely different family dynamic. When you go one at a time with your numbers, then you become an expert at what it takes to juggle the needs of your family with the schedule that is going on. You have already gone through the learning curve. There are still moments of craziness, fear, and loneliness that you will go through, but it is far less intense than it was during your past efforts.

7. There is less guilt involved when you have a third child.
Many parents feel guilty about having a second child because they worry about what their first child will think and feel about the experience. You want the older child to get the attention they want while caring for all of the needs of your newborn. It feels like you are putting that older child into a place where they must become independent, and that is not always a great feeling.

When you have a third child, then there is comfort in knowing that the older two kids have each other when they need an extra level of support. There are more distractions, an available playmate always there, and it gives you an opportunity to focus on what needs to be done with the new little one in your life.

8. Everyone will adjust quickly to the new family dynamics.
Having a third child is a big change for a family, but it is usually one that is good. Everyone will adjust to the new routines with relative ease if you give them a chance to do so. That’s not to say that live is going to be calm and peaceful all of the time, because that is impossible. When there are three kids arguing with each other, you might find yourself pulling over the car more often to get control of the situation. A baby crying takes the tension level up to a different level. Tantrums seem to happen more often as a way to get stuff.

Take a deep breath. Find your center. As the three get older and involved in their own activities, it does get better. Until you have someone’s mood change on a dime and it doesn’t.

9. It provides you with an excuse to go home and car shopping.
There are some big changes that might be on the horizon for you and your family when you add a third child to the mix. You might need to purchase a larger vehicle. That house or apartment you are living in now might need an upgrade. If you have three young ones all in car seats, then figuring out how they will all fit is a unique challenge that can be exceptionally frustrating. When your family expands, you will discover that your opportunities do as well. You might find that people define you as a parent of these children, but it is a label that you really don’t mind wearing.

10. There are some tax incentives to consider.
After the tax changes that occurred following the 2016 election cycle in the United States, there are some incentives built into the law that support a three-child family more than they do smaller or larger ones. You will want to speak with a financial professional about any questions you might have with this unique benefit, but it could help you to secure a larger refund or have access to a little more cash with every paycheck.

11. You can keep using those hand-me-downs.
There is something deeply satisfying about seeing another child getting to wear some of the clothes and use the toys that your previous two did when they were younger. Although the cost benefit of this advantage is something to consider, you will also find yourself fondly reliving the past moments when you were using these items before. It feels like you are connecting the past, present, and future in these times, which is a moment that you will treasure in your heart forever.

List of the Cons of Having a Third Child

1. You get to earn a regression back into the days of a newborn.
Although the precious early days with a baby are always something that we look back upon fondly, it gets rough when you are in the middle of all that work. Once you can get your family into a routine that allows you to sleep every night, get the occasional shower, and start planning for future events, it is a challenge to want to restart that process. Even with all of the potential rewards that a third child brings to the family, you’re looking at 1-3 years of more sleepless nights.

2. It is a return to the diaper phase of life.
Most parents think about having their third child after the first two are finally out of diapers. By expanding your family again, then you are inviting a return to that process. After giving up nine months of sharing your body with the little one, having a full year or two of changing all of those diapers again is not something that everyone will want to do. There are financial commitments to these products, even if you decide to use reusable ones, plus there are all of the other needs that you will need to supply for the child.

3. There is a new personality that starts coming into the house.
When you have two children, then inevitably there is the “older” one and the “younger” one. Once you add a third child into the mix, then you will notice a new personality begin to emerge from the second child while the third one develops their own. The youngest tends to be highly social and confident. They are creative, excellent at problem solving, and masters at getting other people to do things for them.

With your newly minted “middle child,” you will notice that there is a developing trait of negotiation that develops. They know how to grab your attention to determine a path that helps them to get what they want. Your second child will likely become more independent, self-motivated, and begin to rely on you less. Just watch out for some resentment developing during that process.

4. You will encounter critics of your family choices in random public spaces.
This disadvantage is no joke. Once you have a third child (or more), then you have a higher risk of strangers confronting you about your family dynamics. There are a few who will come up to you to talk about their large family and how much they loved it, but the critics are more frequent in their comments toward you. Scooter’s father was shopping at their local grocery store when a stranger suggested it was time that he get a vasectomy. Although this shouldn’t stop you from making a decision that works for your family, you will want to be prepared for a strong negative reaction that you’ll encounter at times.

5. A third child means that you have less time to spend together as a couple.
Scooter has two older siblings and one that is younger. His family schedule is packed to the brim every day. They have martial arts classes on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays all year long. His older brother and younger sister have soccer in the spring and fall. His older sister takes swimming classes on the weekend. They are also juggling Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, school functions, band practice – and there are school and work responsibilities in there as well.

They get up at 7am together to have breakfast. The kids are out the door at 8 to catch the bus as the parents go off to work. Then they all come home about 4pm to work on homework and make dinner. That’s when all of the extras hit, which keep them out of the house until 8pm most evenings. Then it’s the bedtime routine before starting it all over again. Not only do you have less time as a couple, there is less time to spend as a family as the kids get older.

6. There is a financial consideration to think about with a third child.
If you are thinking about adding a third child to your family, then it is necessary to take an open and honest look at your monthly income. Is it secure? Would you have enough cash available for the next six months if you or your spouse were to lose your employment for some reason?

Then there are the daycare expenses to look at. The average cost for one child in the United States is $11,500 per year. You might get a discount for having three kids at the same facility, but you will still need to budget at least $25,000 if both of you are working. That’s why many larger families keep one parent at home. Even though it is a sacrifice to the career, they come out financially better because one parent typically sends their salary to these miscellaneous costs.

7. Your relationship with your spouse or partner is going to change.
When you have three kids in your family, then both parents need to be directly involved to help contain the chaos that sometimes occurs. You are going to see lots of each other because you’re both working with the kids on the various projects or assignments that they bring home. It also means that having a meaningful conversation with that person might take days before it happens. Even if you send all of the kids to bed at a reasonable time and stay up to chat, you are so exhausted in those first years that the only thing both of you want to do is sleep.

You must make time for date nights whenever you can. Finding someone to watch three kids can feel like an impossible task. If a babysitter doesn’t come along, then bring out the entire family for a fun night that breaks your hectic routine. Dinner and a movie with everyone can be more rejuvenating that you might realize.

8. You will no longer care about the smaller details of life.
Have you seen those videos where parents make cute artwork with their kid’s lunches? You won’t care about stuff like that with a third child. Your goal is to go from one task to another with the goal of getting a 5-minute break. Gifts go from having cute wrapping paper and a bow to getting stuffed in a bag with tissue paper – if you’re lucky. Arriving on-time for something feels like a miracle. If the clothes don’t smell “too” bad, then kids can wear them again. The compromises you decide on will be unique, but they are going to happen.

9. There is always something going on in your family.
Once you make it to three children and they get a little older, then the dishwasher needs to be run every day. You will be doing laundry at least twice per week. The house devolves into a mess faster than you ever thought it would. You are coordinating schedules with your partner, managing specific chores, and the to-do lists never really seem to end. You need a lot of sleep to get through these moments, which is ironic because the first year tends to feel sleepless when you add a third child into the mix.

The pros and cons of having a third child are something to consider as you debate this opportunity for your family. When you speak with Scooter’s parents, you will see that they have no regrets about the sacrifices, time, and effort that came with their decision to have a larger family. You will likely experience the same outcome as you get through those tough early years. It may not always be easy, but almost everyone who has had a third child says that it was one of the best decisions they ever made.

Blog Post Author Credentials
Louise Gaille is the author of this post. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Louise has almost a decade of experience in Banking and Finance. If you have any suggestions on how to make this post better, then go here to contact our team.