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article on opting out of parenthood for financial reasons

JEMJEM Posts: 6,375Super Moderator Senior Member
edited November 2012 in Parent Cafe
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/14/your-money/opting-out-of-parenthood-with-finances-in-mind.html?emc=tnt&tntemail0=y&_r=0

Thought it would be an interesting discussion for this forum

In my own case, my kids have been "priceless" and I have no regrets, despite having experienced some challenging times. There is a very special joy in seeing your progeny functioning and flourishing in their adult lives.
Post edited by JEM on
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Replies to: article on opting out of parenthood for financial reasons

  • alhalh Posts: 4,040Registered User Senior Member
    U.S. births fell for the fourth year in a row, the government reported Wednesday, with experts calling it more proof that the weak economy has continued to dampen enthusiasm for having children.


    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/03/birth-rate-in-us-down-fourth-year_n_1935143.html
    The phenomenon of women choosing not to have children is afflicting the industrialized world in alarming numbers. Childlessness is steadily becoming more widespread, particularly in English-speaking countries but also in Japan and in much of Europe. In 20 years, the number of childless women in many countries has doubled.
    Although a minority of women choose not to have children, the trend constitutes a genuine revolution, pointing to some unspoken resistance to motherhood. As we know, as soon as women were able to control reproduction, pursue studies, enter the job market and aspire to financial independence, motherhood stopped being an inevitable, self-evident step and became a choice instead. Whether we like it or not, motherhood is now only one important aspect of women's identity, no longer the key to achieving a sense of self-fulfillment. And the rate at which women are saying no to children -- most notably among those with college education -- suggests that the choice, for many, threatens the other facets of their identity: their freedom, energy, income and professional accomplishments.

    http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/15/opinion/badinter-birthrate/index.html


    The author isn't alone. It's an understandable trend in my opinion. Having children limits options in life. It frequently limits career options for women. Although I agree my own children are "priceless" I knew from age 4 or 5 that mothering was going to be my main life's work and looking back I have no regrets about that. However, I wouldn't advise any woman to have children who didn't have a pretty severe case of baby lust. Not everyone needs to reproduce. If it was a more unusual choice, maybe it would be valued more by society. If you do have baby lust, I like to repeat what many told me, "if you wait till you can afford them, you'll never have them." :)
  • PizzagirlPizzagirl Posts: 25,615Registered User Senior Member
    Do you have to have baby lust per se? I personally enjoyed other years of my children's lives far more than baby years, which I didn't really find all that rewarding or fun -- just a stage that had to be gotten through. Sometimes I think women fawn over babies because they are expected to by society, because women are "supposed to like babies," not because they really do.
  • alhalh Posts: 4,040Registered User Senior Member
    PG - I not really that into babies myself. I mean that you can't imagine you aren't going to be a mother. You crave it. I pretty much gave birth so I could have toddlers. And then I got bonded to the toddlers. I can still feel the invisible apron strings (and ghostly umbilical cords) by which those grown up toddlers are attached to me :)

    Some woman who fawn over babies are attracted to babies in a way that others, who don't have that inclination, can't begin to imagine imho

    important clarification: I am NOT saying you should have baby lust to be a mother. Of course, I support women making a very rational and unemotional choice to become a mother. I am also supporting women who choose not to have children. Frequently society doesn't.
  • poetgrlpoetgrl Posts: 12,518Registered User Senior Member
    We don't value motherhood in our culture. We are supremely unsupportive compared to any other culture. I'm not surprised at all.

    But, also, this coincides strongly with the fact that young women see very little value in marriage, either. I know my own daughters and their friends have no interest in marriage and children, seeing the whole construct as something more "expensive" for women than for men. They are young. They may change their minds. But, if they do so, it won't be the way we did.

    I love my daughters and can't imagine my life without them, but I can imagine a different life had I not had them, and that life would have been fine with me, as well.
  • alhalh Posts: 4,040Registered User Senior Member
    We don't value motherhood and then we pressure young women into becoming mothers. When young women become educated enough to see the hypocrisy.... it gets interesting.

    I agree with the idea marriage is "expensive" for women-
    and now lots of women can make a choice they couldn't in earlier generations...

    I can't personally imagine having had a life without children. Impossible. Luckily for my children, I can imagine a life without grandchildren. My own mother could not. She really needed grandchildren to feel her life was complete. Me - not really - though I'm sure I'll go ga-ga if they arrive.

    I do, however, plan my travel schedule and entire life at nine months intervals so as to be sure to be available if needed. :eek:
  • emeraldkity4emeraldkity4 Posts: 32,815Registered User Senior Member
    My kids both love children, of all ages, but while I expect they will both have careers in education in someway,( not a big leap since oldest already has her MIT), they may not actually ever give birth themselves, and finances are a big reason why.
    I expect the same will be for many couples, or at least I hope that all couples would consider whether they are physically, emotionally & financially prepared to raise a child before they have one.
    I am supportive whatever they decide.Although I seem to have adopted the oldests boyfriends dog as a surrogate grandchild.
    ;)
  • WordWorldWordWorld Posts: 377Registered User Member
    As a lawyer and currently a mostly SAH mom, I can totally agree that parenthood is very expensive. Indeed, from a purely financial standpoint, kids are a stupid choice. For me and H, though, life would honestly have been very unhappy and unfullfilled without at least two kids. In fact, we were enjoying raising our first two so much that we had a third when the older two were a freshman in high school and in sixth grade. Now that is crazy baby lust! Our bonus baby is almost 4 now and the light of all of our eyes. Our oldest (college freshman in another state) recently e-mailed that the person he was looking forward to seeing the most at Thanksgiving was his littlest sister.
    I worked outside the home when the first two were little, so having them was a lot less of a financial hit, but I always wanted more time with them than my job would allow. I have had SO MUCH FUN staying home and focusing on the older kids and raising our bonus baby. Once she starts kindergarten, I definitely will go back to work at least school hours, but this has been a wonderful phase of my life.
    And ALH, sorry, but my kids know that they owe me grandchildren at some amorphous time in the future, preferably not TOO soon but someday... JK (or maybe not)!
  • ConsolationConsolation Posts: 14,263Registered User Senior Member
    poetgrl wrote:
    We don't value motherhood in our culture. We are supremely unsupportive compared to any other culture. I'm not surprised at all.

    That was my thought too, except that I believe the birth rate is very low in European societies that DO support motherhood more effectively.

    It is a puzzlement.

    Personally, I have lots of extra motherlust that is going to waste. It makes me sad. I would have liked to have more children, but it was not in the cards. We could not afford to adopt. (Really. Not like it would have been a sacrifice. Like no one would have approved us for adoption.) Now we would be considered too old.
  • mnmomof2mnmomof2 Posts: 806Registered User Member
    I love my kids. They mean the world to me. I'd do it all over again, and even wish I had one more! But, they are expensive, demanding, mostly ungrateful, have totally destroyed my career (my choice to "mommy track"), created stress with my H (on parenting issues), and taken practically ALL my time, not to mention the wider hips, the flatter feet, the general physical toll of fatigue... I think the financial piece is just one of the many "costs" of parenting!
    We socialize with some childless couples our age. They look amazing (more time for exercise and relaxation), take fabulous trips, and have no guilt about their successful careers. They spend all their money and attention on each other.
    That being said, one smile from either of my wonderful kids and I am in heaven! I thank God for them every day.
  • emeraldkity4emeraldkity4 Posts: 32,815Registered User Senior Member
    I am drawn to group living situations, if I didnt live with H who requires a mancave.
    There are a few planned communities in our area that have supporting each other in whatever stage of life that you are at as a priority.
    I think that young families often need much more help than what they get, there simply aren't enough hours in the day & too much month left at the end of the paycheck.
    Even though my own grandparents, my H's parents & my mother all lived in this area when we started our family, my grandparents had the most time to spare, but no one lives forever.:(
    My mother moved to live with my brother & his family for a while in another state & my mil took early retirement to babysit H's niece everyday.
    Most families don't have near that level of support.
    I don't ever regret having my kids, but I do wish I had waited until I was older and had a better idea of what kind of parent i wanted to be.
    I might as well have waited, my body still thinks I am planning to have another one!
  • alhalh Posts: 4,040Registered User Senior Member
    That was my thought too, except that I believe the birth rate is very low in European societies that DO support motherhood more effectively.

    It is a puzzlement.

    I have been thinking about your point since first reading some of these articles and decided it's not so much a puzzlement to me after all.... when I read posts like the thread over on the Parent Forum recently, where someone opined that it wasn't worthwhile for SAHMs to have an ivy degree, that the resources should go to someone who would actually use the degree. If we think using the degree means creating something, (other than children) contributing to society (:)) or earning a large salary... we devalue child bearing to young women imho. Ivy graduates can usually afford someone else raising their children, but still will be impacted by their pregnancies and any unexpected child rearing issues. Ann Marie Slaughter found this out:

    Why Women Still Can?t Have It All - Anne-Marie Slaughter - The Atlantic

    If we tell intelligent, talented and competitive young women we will judge them by the success of their careers, they understand that having children will put them at a disadvantage compared to their male peers. Isn't this true even in European countries where there are social programs in place to help families? At least that is my take? What do you think?
  • momof3greatgirlsmomof3greatgirls Posts: 815Registered User Member
    I know far too many women that would have had more children if they could afford them.

    There is no doubt women give up more to be mothers these days. It is a choice I am always glad I made but it is never easy being a mother.
  • BayBay Posts: 10,312Registered User Senior Member
    People who do not want children or who are unwilling to make financial sacrifices should not have children. I think the article overstates the cost of having children, and most parents spend all that money on their children because they want to. It is possible to raise children and live a fulfilling life on much less than some people think. Renting, breastfeeding, hand-me-downs, buying in bulk, public schools, FA ... There are very inexpensive ways to get kids through life successfully from birth through college graduation.
  • poetgrlpoetgrl Posts: 12,518Registered User Senior Member
    When I say "expensive" I'm not even referring to finances, which is the one area I actually think the cost is shared.

    I have an amazing husband. He is a world class Dad. He even, at one point, turned down what would have been a terriffic opportunity because it would have meant he could not participate in the girls' life the way he wanted to participate. In the end, he didn't suffer professionally. Nobody "daddy tracked" him. He just found something else to do. He was universally admired, in fact, for putting his kids first in that situation. It worked out very, very well.

    But, this would not be the case for any woman on the planet.

    Nobody says, "Can a man have it all?"

    My husband would adore grandchildren. In fact, the girls frequently say, "I don't know if Dad will be able to not be a grandfather." It's not only women who feel this way, though it is women who will pay the price until we begin to value mothers and motherhood in the same way we value work outside the home. Even on CC I've seen versions of mommy wars.

    Me? I've always worked outside the home, but I also sent very nice gifts to any woman or man who volunteered in any way which impacted my child. I don't mean the "chip in for a gift for the team mom." I mean, I shopped for a gift. For women, having children impacts a life in ways large and small and good and bad and indifferent, and always in the way of time.
  • BayBay Posts: 10,312Registered User Senior Member
    I understand what you are saying poetgirl, but perhaps we need to turn around the attitude that having children is "giving up" other career opportunities, and instead elevate it to a goal more important than other careers.

    I grew up in the "women can have it all" generation, and personally found it to be a lie.
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