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!