“Don’t have children if you can’t afford them”

It’s a mardy post today but this has been irritating me no end and if I don’t rant about it here poor DH is going to have to bear the brunt of my wrath. ;-)

So. I keep seeing and hearing people come out with this sage piece of advice: don’t have children if you can’t afford them. On the surface it may seem reasonable and possibly even sensible advice but these days unless you’re sitting on a large heap of lottery winnings or have an obliging and wealthy relative there is no way to guarantee that you can afford children from one year to the next.

DH and I waited years to be in the right financial position to have children; only when we finally had good jobs, had bought a spacious flat and a car did we seriously consider it. And do you know what happened? By the time DD was 18 months old we had both been made redundant, resulting in large debts, bankruptcy and the repossession of our lovely flat. We had to move in with family.

And then, a few months later I discovered that I was unexpectedly pregnant with DS. (I say unexpectedly because I was on the pill; I later discovered that I had been prescribed the wrong dosage and therefore had no more protection from conceiving than if I had just crossed my fingers and hoped). DH and I had to make a huge decision – would we keep the baby? We knew that if we did we would have to move and claim benefits, as we couldn’t have a baby while living with family (that had been made very clear to us some time before). We talked about our options but though we’re both pro-choice there was really only one choice for us – to keep the baby.

Yes, perhaps it would have been more practical and sensible to have an abortion; that way we could continue living with family and save up some money so that we could afford to have another child in a few years time. In fact some people have been bold enough to tell me so to my face. But although DS wasn’t planned he was very much wanted and we figured that we would manage somehow. And we have, although we have had to rely on benefits for the last couple of years as the job situation has gone from bad yo worse. Only now is there a light at the end of the tunnel.

So forgive me when I get cross with people who smugly trot out this farcical advice. If everyone waited until they knew they could afford to have children no matter what life and the economy threw at them, then the human race would very quickly become extinct.

Update: The brilliant AGirlCalledJack has blogged about this as well, but examines the latest figures. Have a look here, the numbers are pretty scary!

28 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. bodycrimes
    Aug 18, 2013 @ 16:38:09

    I couldn’t agree with you more. It also suggests that a basic human right – to reproduce – should be restricted to the ‘right’ kinds of people.

    Reply

  2. Kevin Longmore
    Aug 18, 2013 @ 16:41:05

    I don’t think you are mardy at all. You make an excellent point

    Reply

  3. Amanda (@girlgonecoastal)
    Aug 18, 2013 @ 16:47:12

    I really want to slap a person when they say this, and I’m not a particularly violent person.
    We did the same you guys, waited until everything was in place before having a baby. Then BOOM 2 come along at once and we knew it would be difficult but we’d manage, we never expected Ethan to spend months in hospital wiping out our savings and then some. The stress of it all eventually caused me to be made redundant.
    We waited until we “could afford” a child, but then shit just kept hitting the fan, I mean really what do they want us to do, send the kids off to a shelter or have them adopted by the more affluent? Sorry this gets me all ranty too, bloody idiots making sweeping statements without knowing what they are on about.

    Sorry for long rant x

    Reply

  4. Kevin Longmore
    Aug 18, 2013 @ 16:51:44

    It is a myth that people can rationally plan for the future. As we have seen it only takes a few irresponsible bankers to wreck the plans of thousands of people.

    Reply

  5. thedailysarah
    Aug 19, 2013 @ 00:08:44

    What kind of utter fuckwit thinks, let alone says, let alone says *to you* that you should have aborted your own son? Things like this go a long way to wiping out my self-hate because I realise I might have a bit of a shrieky laugh but I’m never going to be a total and utter idiotface.

    Reply

  6. mummylovestowrite
    Aug 19, 2013 @ 10:56:22

    I completely agree with you. Circumstances change and people should just keep their opinions to themselves.

    My husband and I were financially comfortable and he had a good job when we had our first. He was unable to work any longer after our second child as I became very unwell with a mental illness. Yes, I had issues after the first as well and some people probably think we shouldn’t have had a second. My husband was still holding down his job at this point and it looked like I was going to be ok. My diagnosis was Depression/Anxiety…it changed to Bipolar Disorder 2 after the second pregnancy.

    We are now on benefits and I am still struggling to recover (our second is 16 months, the first turns three later this year). If anyone wants to judge us and the hell we have been through, well…I won’t swear….but I am sure you can imagine what I would say lol. They would no longer be friends of mine.

    Unless a child is being abused or neglected, people should zip it. Thanks for a great post.

    Reply

    • Sam Candour
      Aug 19, 2013 @ 18:22:36

      Thanks! I’m sorry you’re finding things difficult.

      Reply

    • amy
      Mar 18, 2014 @ 04:02:08

      “now on benefits” is what you posted. F you. You knew you were in a bad way after baby number 1 and yet you and your husband decided to have baby number 2. I’m not saying abortion was the way to go, but dang, don’t hump it down. Why do you think you are entitled to this money from other people? That is a serious question. I can’t fathom taking money from people who go out every day and do a job that could be harder than one I could do.

      Reply

    • amy
      Mar 18, 2014 @ 04:10:02

      You find time to look up BS on the web to comment on while taking other peoples money. Look for a job, become educated etc… .

      Reply

  7. Henrietta Job
    Aug 20, 2013 @ 10:00:27

    Yes I agree too…Ihave had five beautiful children, and if I had waited for the mythical time when I could afford it I’d be childless.
    But its a line my mother trots out everytime I tell her anyone I know…inc me is pregnant….
    Guess what, I’m an only child..they couldn’t ‘afford’ any more!

    Reply

    • Leisha Young
      Jan 24, 2014 @ 03:50:52

      Henrietta, are you financially supporing your 5 children or are you relying on welfare to raise them?

      Reply

  8. survivoruncensored
    Aug 22, 2013 @ 14:39:43

    I think that bringing a child into the world is such an amazing, important and special thing to do. For me, it wasn’t so much about money, but whether ‘I’ felt I was able to be the mother I wanted to be – not to be a perfect mum, but to be a good enough mum. To give my child the safety, security and nourishment it deserved. I think those factors are far more important considerations than money.

    Reply

  9. bchaison
    Oct 06, 2013 @ 01:03:16

    I want to say I agree with the general sentiment of this blog. Having children shouldn’t be restricted to those who have tons of money. Everyone has that right to children.

    I’m a moderate independent who is fiscally conservative but am not so naive and full of hate that I can’t understand everyone’s argument. I think most people understand that circumstances happen that can impact your life AFTER a child is born. Many of the people who’ve posted have noted that they’ve been in good shape pre baby, then events happen that impact their lives and their bank accounts. This stuff happens and those people who need help should have it, no questions asked.

    However, I think a lot of people have a problem with people who, for example, are already on welfare with 2 kids, having more children at that time. It’s a situation where you already can’t afford the children you have, then bringing another one into the world is irresponsible. A lot of the stories here I feel 100% sympathy for. I just think that when people make the argument “don’t have children if you can’t afford them”, need to clarify the message. Nobody ever has enough money for children, but there does have to be some responsibility involved.

    I’m not looking to offend or insult anyone, and if I did, I apologize. I just wanted to write a comment based on what I see, hear, etc. Thanks for sharing your stories!

    Reply

    • Sam Candour
      Oct 06, 2013 @ 20:29:21

      The problem is when your couple on welfare find themselves unexpectedly having another baby – are you saying they should abort? Because no contraception is 100% reliable.

      Otherwise I quite agree with you. :-)

      Reply

      • Ellis
        Nov 07, 2013 @ 01:15:03

        If you already have big financial problems then the best way is to be 100% sure that you are not going to have another child specially if you have already a one (So no sex, a marriage is a lot more than sex. That’s the more responsible way. Or use 2 or 3 methods at the same time… pills, condoms and track your fertile days all at the same time, at least make it difficult)

        Nobody can say for sure how the future will be, but they can take action for the present and having a kid in a bad time, with already the responsibility of another one, is bad decision. And IS a decision because adults know were children come from and that there’s no a 100% contraceptive method, nobody put a gun in their heads to have sex.

        On the other side, I’m not a “pro-live” but I do believe that people should take responsibility from their actions, so in this type of cases having the baby is the right choice. The sad part is that the ones that will have to “suffer” are the children, economical problems are hard in a family.

      • Leisha Young
        Jan 24, 2014 @ 04:08:06

        We all know how to prevent babies being made. If you use the pill and a condom you will not get pregnant, there are also ways of engaging in sexual activity that do not require the penetration of a penis into a vagina (and can be just as intimate). The pill is 99% effective if it is taken correctly, the reason it’s safe is because the egg is never released, so there is nothing to fertilise. The 1% is the margin for error with things like, gastric problems or being on antibiotics (which can render the pill ineffective and any doctor worth his/her salt should tell you this when you go onto them).

        Very often these so called ‘accidents’ are not accidents anyway, because the couple in question were engaging in unprotected sex and got pregnant. That is not an accident. Penis into vagina and ejaculation with no barrier can result in a baby being made…it’s not that hard.

        People need to take responsibility for their own behaviours and decisions. It’s part of being a mature adult.

        If you don’t want to get pregnant, then don’t. Take the necessary precautions or abstain from activities that have the potential to end in pregnancy. You may not want to, but that’s the taking responsibility part.

        Of course there are people that have children and then end up in a situation where they can’t afford them after the fact. This is very different to people claiming they ‘accidently’ got pregnant, and now can’t afford the child. Whilst there may be a handful of legitimate ‘accidents’, most happen because of the reasons stated above.

  10. Pat
    Feb 05, 2014 @ 18:37:22

    Times have changed. After the war having babies was a big thing people celebrated. Today we are living in an overpopulated work. On one hand we are told their is problems with our water, air and climate. All due to our habits. On the other hand we are told to celebrate babies and feed the hungry aids babies Worldwide. Which is it?

    Well we are not living is sparsely populated post war times anymore. Everyone wants McMansions and cars, children, TV’s, health care, pensions …. but who pays?

    Don’t have children you cannot afford may be hurtfull truth. But it is truth. The last thing this world needs is yet another expectant child who wants their Mcmansion, cars, and pension and all for free.

    People use their children for their excuse. They are not as successful as they could be because they sacrificed for their children see .. WRONG. People use their children as an excuse. It just happened. Not out fault – we sacrifice so much. You sacrifice nothing. That’s the problem.

    Reply

  11. Mickey
    Feb 11, 2014 @ 19:17:56

    To me your argument only seems to support the case that you shouldn’t have children unless you know you can afford them through your entire life. Let the 1% have children. Money is only 1 factor for me but I make that argument all the time. Even if you have money having children only delays your retirement. My #1 goal is to retire early as possible. Having children only slows this down.

    Reply

    • Leisha Young (@LJY2008)
      Feb 11, 2014 @ 20:10:46

      Yeah I agree. However sometimes I think that the ‘Western’ way has destroyed any semblance of pure enjoyment anybody gets out of their kids. We live in such a competitive, high strung culture that having kids these days is just a pain in the neck nobody really needs or wants (considering the dramatic drop in child birth rates in the western world since the advent of birth control pills).

      Perhaps if we could exist in a less materialistic society having kids wouldn’t be such a financial drain. Who am I kidding though right? We can only dream.

      Reply

  12. Nicola
    Mar 20, 2014 @ 09:47:01

    Sam, your situation is not the type that people are talking about when they say ‘don’t have kids if you can’t afford them’. It’s people who just start trying to conceive without once wondering what the cost will be once the child is born, and then discovering, ‘oh I can’t afford this’ when the kid arrives and looking at the government (i.e. tax payers) to throw money at them! And then get pregnant again… It’s not a God given right to have babies, in this day and age we have no worries of the world becoming under-populated (it’s very much the opposite), and we should go back to the times when we damn well had to fund our own kids with our own money!! If you can’t do that… I’m sorry but you just have to go without! Like I have to go without all the things I would like (and AM entitled to) that I can’t afford!!!

    Reply

  13. Tothepoint!
    Mar 27, 2014 @ 13:52:06

    Simple solution ladies …do yourself a favour and get a hysterectomy.

    Then have sex all you want.

    Or give your man a vasectomy.
    Its cheaper than the cost of years of contraception and abortions.

    Problem solved.

    Reply

  14. Sam Sandovs
    Apr 14, 2014 @ 20:05:13

    Firstly, I’m really glad for reading this. Secondly, I have a few feelings about it that I’d like to share.

    Currently, my husband has a modest income, we’re getting by… but very seriously just barely. We have to let the mortgage hang a month behind pretty much always and we’ve routinely had to make provisions for paying bills (asking the utility companies to stave the bills or for a payment plan), Stupidly, we live in a community with an HOA so we’re in debt to the HOA as well. With the ridiculous power that HOA’s have in the US, they could foreclose on our house due to our debt them.

    Despite those issues, I have the reoccurring thought of “baby”. I’m twenty-six currently. I think of my mom having had me at thirty-six yet she had my sister at twenty-one. I think of all the photos of my sister and mom, swimming, playing, travelling, just very exuberant. My mother definitely tried her very very very best, but I know that by the time I was born she was getting inevitably tired. I think the age that our mother had us even reflects in our personalities. My sister is unabashedly outgoing and I am somewhat reserved. So, if we’re able to have a family, I’d be slightly nervous about the affects of waiting to do so. Furthermore, I highly resent the fact that I have to consider finances, of all things, before doing something that feels so right and so natural. I have several family members who swear that having children later in life is better, but that’s not what my gut tells me. Not that having children at any age isn’t great, but for me personally.

    With all of that said, If I could, I’d like to have two, perhaps three kids. My husband and I have talked about it more than several times, each time we push the idea back with the same phrase “maybe when we’re in a more stable position”. Through reading this, and several other similar posts throughout the internet, I’m beginning to see that there’s almost no so such thing as a “stable position”. Yet, I can’t help but think of all money it takes to raise a child. I don’t want to force another little human to do without or live in something similar to poverty– but maybe that shouldn’t be the real concern. The stereotype seems to say that poverty goes hand in hand with neglect, but that’s not true, I know that’s not true. The stereotype wants you to feel like you’ve failed if you can’t afford to even try to keep up with The Jones’.

    I suppose the pressure here is clear. It’s not the finances or the age, it’s societies pressure to go beyond what’s possible.

    This was cathartic. Thanks for reading and writing.

    Reply

    • Leisha Young (@LJY2008)
      Apr 14, 2014 @ 23:51:32

      Sam, I urge you not to have any children until you are in a more stable position. This may mean you have to plan your finances better. If you can barely survive now, how are you going to survive when you are no longer working?

      This is the whole concept of ‘taking responsibility’, it is not up to the state to pick up the tab because you so desperately want a child. Having a child is a huge responsibility that never goes away and, I hate to say it, but children who grow up in poverty vary really break the cycle of poverty. You really aren’t setting this child up for success in life (despite what the Hollywood movies say).

      There is plenty of time to have a child when you are more financially stable. You may need to go back to school and up-skill so you can get a higher paying job. You may need to consider downsizing your lifestyle to make your life more affordable to bring a child into. When a child comes along it will be much harder to do any of these things.

      As for having a child later in life? If you’re fit and healthy, there is no reason why you can’t keep up with a child in your 30′s and 40′s. Personally, I think having kids later in life makes you more patient and willing to sacrifice for your child, as well as being more financially set up to provide that child with a good life.

      I can’t honestly fathom why you are talking about having three kids when you can barely support yourself. Please don’t do it.

      Reply

      • Sam Sandovs
        Apr 15, 2014 @ 04:11:28

        Hey Leisha,

        I hate to rain on the good you think you may be doing by posting such an offensive response to my comment about Sam Candour’s blog– but you’re really not coming from an intelligent place.

        Firstly, I’m twenty-six, that means I’ve had more than a decade to say “whoops!” and bring a child into this world unprepared (spoiler, it didn’t happen). Secondly, I have a college degree and I’m unemployed regardless (like many). Thirdly, my husband (who is eight years my senior) has his masters and is of course looking for a better paying position, probably within the same company. It’s not an unlikely scenario that our situation improves.

        However, the more disgusting thing about your comment is your generic and hurtful response to the idea of “poverty”. To quote you, “you may need to go back to school”, “I can’t fathom why you are talking about having kids”, “you really aren’t setting this child up for success”. Those comments are what the majority of the US thinks, those comments are what perpetuates. Rather than address the fact that my situation is more common than not (and will continue to be), rather than address why a couple with their bachelors and masters are so fiscally marginalized, rather than address why we are requiring that people entrench themselves in debt by “going back to school”, why are we not offering more social services, ect. you would rather repeat some meritocracy dogma. The majority of the current poverty in the US is from structural failings not personal failings as your meritocracy would suggest.

        Please don’t mistake my zeal for anger. Your willful apathy to such a crucially important subject needs to be discouraged in order to end the continuation of such hurtful and misguided idiocy.

        Also, to speak to your “it’s not up to the state to pick up the tab” comment, well then please ask the government to stop adding so much to everyone’s tab without regard for how their going to repay it.

  15. Leisha Young (@LJY2008)
    Apr 16, 2014 @ 00:42:18

    Sam, I’m not part of the meritocracy and support social welfare where it is needed most. I do not believe that means people who ‘already’ can’t afford children bringing them into the world just because they want them. If you can afford them, have them and then find yourself in a difficult financial position after the fact, I have no problem with the state helping you out until you can solve your financial situation, but to bring a child into the world when you knowingly can’t afford it is simply negligent.

    As for attacking me by referring to poverty, I was using your prose “I don’t want to force another little human to do without or live in something similar to poverty– but maybe that shouldn’t be the real concern.”. That’s the only reason I used the term in the first place, I wouldn’t have used it otherwise. I was simply stating that children born into a difficult financial situation are statistically less likely to achieve in life because they go to lesser schools, their parents have to work long and odd hours to support them (leaving them vulnerable to outside influences). Absent parents (working constantly to survive), also can’t provide a child with the adequate discipline they need to adhere to their studies and focus on their future and develop adequate social skills and behaviors. I’m not suggesting it is a rule, just that statistically speaking the figures don’t work in your favor.

    As for going back to school, if there are no jobs in your field of education then you need to become qualified in something that will help you gain employment or better employment. This doesn’t necessarily mean university, it can be a community college that skills you to do a trade or some other skill that is in demand. I don’t agree with it, but until it changes that’s just the way it is. We don’t always get what we want in life. The other option is that you take a job at the bottom of a place that is related to your study and work your way up to a higher position over time. This may mean you have to answer phones or whatever until you can manouvre yourself into a better position within the organisation, or another organisation. If there’s not work where you live, then consider moving elsewhere where there is work.

    I totally agree that the US government should do more to help struggling university students to get their education, but they don’t currently, so why make your current financial situation worse by having a child? Do the mature thing and hold off a few more years until you at least have some savings behind you and think about it then. Or move back with your parents (if that’s an option), and save every penny you have or plough it into paying off at least one of your student loans (anything to improve your financial situation).

    You can safely bring children into the world into your thirties, if you held off for 5 or 6 years you will most likely be in a better situation to bring a child into the world and be able to support it with little to no assistance form the state. That’s the responsible thing to do.

    I’m not against people on low incomes having children, I am against the mindset that says, “I want a child and I’m going to have one no matter what, and I expect other people to pay for that child”. It is not the responsibility of the state (which is really just the average Joe’s taxes) to pay for your child just because you want one. Like I said, we don’t always get what we want in life and that’s just the long and short of it. Nobody is saying don’t have kids at all, they are just saying that you should hold off until you can afford it (despite the fact you want to have kids young).

    Reply

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