A friend sent me the link to the recent NYTimes article “Opting Out of Parenthood, with Finances in Mind” by Nadia Taha, probably because she knew it would get me all riled up. She was right.
Here’s Taha’s premise: Children cost an unfathomable amount of money (her absurd estimate is close to 2 million per kid). If you want financial security and a comfortable retirement, your best option is to not have kids: she writes, “…it seems obvious that the single decision that can best help us achieve them [homeownership, significant emergency and retirement fund, etc] is one that many newly married, affluent young adults don’t usually consider: Don’t have children.”
People are always contemplating the costs and benefits of major financial decisions like homeownership or retirement, why treat parenthood differently? Taha asks. Well, because it is different. Having children isn’t a decision like whether to rent or buy a home. It’s a desire fundamental not only to humanity but to every living being. Creating new life is what living creatures do.
We’ll come back to the absolute absurdity of the numbers Taha comes up with to estimate the cost of raising kids, but for now I want to discuss the mindset that honestly breaks my heart: confusing happiness with wealth. The idea that it is (in Taha’s words) “prudent” to reject a basic human love and desire in order to protect your bottom line. Now, I’m not advocating financial irresponsibility. If we were in grave financial circumstances and could not afford to feed and clothe our little ones, we would avoid pregnancy through NFP until we were able to afford to care for another baby. But Taha’s idea of what it takes financially to raise a child is beyond unreasonable.
The Greek philosophers debated about eudaimonia. You can translate it “happiness” but a better word for it might be “thriving.” What makes us thrive as humans? What makes us truly happy? Isn’t that the question we’re all trying to answer every day of our lives? Sadly, for Taha, the answer is material wealth. Money is the answer, not human affection, not sacrifice, not family. Taha’s article also highlights what seems to be an epidemic in our culture: a misunderstanding of the difference between material goods and what children really need in order to flourish.
Taha quotes the annual report by the Agriculture Department on how much American parents spend on their children. Taha explains that the report claims, “a middle-income couple spent $12,290 to $14,320 a year on a child, depending on the child’s age and where they lived. Couples in our income bracket who live in the urban Northeast spent $22,760 to $27,720 per child.” These are real numbers. Taha’s right. Americans spend a lot on their kids. I’ve had so many conversations with pregnant friends who ask…does it really cost that much? The answer is no. It doesn’t have to. And your kids won’t be deprived if you don’t spend that kind of money. Please read Katie Kimball’s fantastic post on this exact topic as she breaks down how people spend money on their kids and how she estimates that her family spent approx. $1,000 on baby-related expenses the year her baby was born. If we spent as much as the average middle-income couple on each of our kids, that would almost wipe out our entire household income. It doesn’t have to cost that much.
Taha’s heartbreaking attitude about wealth being superior to human affection really comes to light when she discusses elder care. When asked about the prospect of aging with no children, Taha replies, “I don’t believe in bringing people into the world for personal gain, and even if I did, swapping the supposed promise of elder care for the certain need for us to provide child care is not worth it. I’ve learned from firsthand experience that the professional support that comes from good long-term care and health insurance policies is superior to what family can offer. When I was the primary caregiver for my father as he was dying of pancreatic cancer, it was painfully clear to me that regardless of how much I loved him and how hard I tried to care for him, a qualified professional would have done a better job. Besides, children are not an insurance policy for eldercare. Health care providers will tell you that hospitals and nursing homes serve many parents and grandparents who don’t have regular visitors.” (Emphasis mine.)
These claims were really shocking to me. First of all, who are these people Taha refers to who have children for “personal gain”? Raising children is a sacrifice. Caring for aging parents is also a sacrifice. It’s the life cycle of a family. No, you don’t get any sort of legal guarantee that your children will care for you as you age. But because of her obsession with material wealth, Taha seems unable to comprehend the need of each human soul to be loved, cared for, and enjoy the company of those who love them. Sure, you will likely need to pay for the services provided by medical staff to care for you as you age. But when most of us think about being cared for as we age, we’re not talking about someone to give us our meds each day and change our bedpan or provide us with necessary surgeries or medical procedures. Yes, these are necessities and medical staff will be part of our future as most of us age. But that’s not what we’re talking about. The worry is that you will have no one to care for you. Not take care of your basic health needs but to care about you. Medical professionals can help to extend one’s life, but family makes that life worth living. To provide you with the love and respect each person needs to age with dignity, there is no substitute for having a family member to advocate for your welfare. And there is no substitute for love and affection.
When my mother’s parents were in failing health and needing more care, my mother and her siblings worked tirelessly to make sure they were provided with everything they needed. Even being in an expensive elder care facility, my grandmother would not always receive the kind of care my mother wanted for her. During my grandmother’s last months, my mother spent almost all of her time hours away from my dad and her home so that she could be close to my grandmother and ensure that she got the care she needed. She would wash and brush my grandmother’s hair. Put lip balm on her dry lips. Talk to her and love on her. Were those things medically necessary? Maybe not. But they were essential nonetheless. You cannot buy love. You cannot buy family.
And honestly, it’s hard for me to imagine a worse fate than aging in a nursing home with no visitors. No one’s denying that it happens, but is that not a terrifying idea? My husband’s grandmother just passed away after spending 3 years in an assisted living facility. Because she had a devoted daughter and son-in-law in town, two grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren, she had visitors almost daily. And when visiting her you could tell that seeing her grandchildren and great-grandbabies brought her such joy. Can you imagine how lonely the twilight of your life would be without any companionship?
As I read this article, I feel so sad for Taha’s obsession with money that overshadows the value of human relationships and affection. But when she starts making statements about what kind of money is necessary to give your children “the best” I start to feel insulted.
She writes, “It must be difficult to accept that no matter how you set aside your own interests, you cannot afford the very best of everything for your child.” She also claims, “If we were to have a child and do what most other parents around us do in trying to give a new life the very best start possible, we would probably spend over $1.7 million in today’s dollars.” (Emphasis mine.)
So if I don’t have that kind of money, I can’t give my children the very best start? What exactly does the very best start mean? Having the most expensive nursery? Being able to afford every Mommy and Me class out there? I can’t afford that, but I’ll be damned if I don’t do everything in my power to give my kids the best start imaginable.
The idea of having the kind of finances necessary to spend almost 2 million dollars on raising each of our kids is laughable. As in, my husband and I actually laughed out loud at that number. No, my kids will never have the newest video games, clothes, or room for a pony, but by Jove, that doesn’t mean that I can’t give my children the very best. I just disagree that “the best” means the most expensive. Our children will have the very best of us. They will have our time, love, and attention. They will have affectionate parents, fully engaged with their care and education. They will not be given a brand new car on their 16th birthdays. Hey, we didn’t get a car on our 16th birthdays either. And we don’t see that as a bad thing.
“I may never feel financially at ease enough to comfortably afford children of my own,” Taha writes. Well, dear me. If a couple making more than three times what we make can’t afford one child, we must be insane to be expecting our third!
She also confesses, “Some people have a profound emotional desire to have children. But I don’t.” OK, thank you for being honest. It’s one thing if you don’t want children. It’s another to claim that you simply can’t afford them and that those of us who don’t plan to spend 2 million on each new addition to our family aren’t providing our children with what they deserve. Maybe Taha is worried about being judged for not wanting kids. I have friends who have made the decision not to have children. I respect their choice, even if I don’t understand it. They have their reasons, some of which I know and some of which I do not. I don’t think they are selfish for their decision. And I appreciate that none of them are pretending that the issue is that they don’t have an extra 2 million in their bank account.
In a few months we will be welcoming a third baby to our home. Our third in less than 5 years. Our household of soon-to-be five shares one car, one laptop, one bathroom, and a lot of love. Our kids aren’t hungry for food or attention. They have enough hand-me-down clothes that they don’t have to worry about getting them muddy when they have imaginary archaeological digs in the backyard. They don’t have every new toy that comes out, but they are filled with imagination and resourcefulness. Our home is full of laughter, affection, and joy. This is the best start I can imagine for any child. And I’m grateful for the privilege to make sacrifices to be a mother to these amazing little people. Taha’s right about one thing. The cost of having children is huge. It’s your whole heart. And it couldn’t be more worth it.
Image by Simply Inspired Mama
(linked up with The Parent ‘ Hood at FriedOkra)
Wow. Somebody needs to tell this woman that you can’t take it with you! This is probably one of the more absurd conjectures advocating deliberate childlessness I’ve come across. Consider me riled up along with you!
I know. I can’t help but feel sorry for her!
I tried talking about this on MBL but apparently my comment was offensive and had to be removed. Money has everything to do with what parents value and very little to do with necessity. If you value having a nice house, car, lots of toys, going on vacations, etc. then you value money. If you ONLY want a rich home life filled with love and time spent together, money isn’t going to be as important to you. It doesn’t mean both are impossible to have together, it just means that some people value things that only money can get. Values are what make up our decisions and we need to have respect for what other people value. I don’t think people who value money are inherently bad, but that only applies right up until they start disrespecting people who don’t value money – people like Taha. Talk about missing the point!
Your response to her is just beautiful and I cried. This woman has no idea how it’s possible to raise children affordably. We budget $20 a month for baby supplies and we touch it once every 3 months. I’m serious. And our baby wants for NOTHING. Now she has super generous grandma’s who keep her clothed in the finest clothes that garage sales have to offer. And she is happy and healthy and beautiful. The way people regard children – as a financial bottom line instead of a beautiful and awe-filling life is just a sad commentary on our society. Thanks for approaching this topic and all others with so much grace.
Wow. Just wow to that article. That is all I can say right now. Not only is her claim ridiculous – it’s definitely not factual. I love your beautiful response. My children may not have the best money can buy, but they most definitely have the best of us.
What she has failed to realize, and what you pointed out, is that money can’t always buy the best. Money cannot buy the best in elder care, and money cannot buy the best in child development, either. I could spend hundreds of dollars on baby equipment that are designed to stimulate or soothe my baby by mimicking the human heart, the human voice, human faces, womb whooshing noises, and on and on. Or, I could, you know, hold, sing to, rock, and make faces at my baby myself. I guess the cost of that is the lost income now that the base assumption is a dual-income household. Children, or really humans at all, don’t thrive just because we throw money at them. They thrive because of human interaction. But then, that’s coming from someone who believes the greatest gift I can give my child is a sibling. Perhaps Taha realizes just out of touch she is? Or at least, the experts and her own neighbors seem to. “Good for you” is about the most polite thing anyone could say to such a woman.
Great points, Gwenny. You hit the nail on the head . Money isn’t always the answer. I think when criticizing the idea that children guarantee good elder care, Taha fails to realize that she is putting complete trust in her financial security to guarantee good elder care and unfortunately…nothing in life is certain.
Molly Makes Do says
Yes, yes, yes!
Those “statistics” are so skewed to begin with! Who the heck charges/figures out their children’s share in rent/mortgage and utilities – I say if it’s something you’d be purchasing without a child in the picture it’s not a “cost of raise children”. Now I will say that if you are in a situation (like ours) that necessitates the use of childcare those figures can be quite right for the first few years because quality childcare can be pricey. But outside of daycare the cost of healthy (barring the necessary expenses of children who require extra medical care, etc.) child can be relatively minimal. If I budgeted $100 a month for my son I wouldn’t use half of it most of the time.
Plus, if you play you’re cards right the price per child on reusable items like cloth diapers, clothes, toys, books, etc. goes down the more children you have (or the more children get the use of it for free, i.e. handmedowns).
Eventually my children will cost me a little bit more money than they do now – I do want to give the opportunities to learn instruments, take lessons, play sports, etc. and eventually I will have at least one teenage boy eating me out of house and home ; but, they don’t have to do every activity that falls before them and they don’t need personal electronics, designer wardrobes or tons of toys.a
It is sad how easy it is to lose sight of the eternal perspective of families. Teaching our children about financial responsibility and learning self control is important, but not having children because they can’t have the most expensive of everything is so sad. Finances are here and now. Things and stuff are here and now. Family is forever.
Couldn’t have said it better, Donica.
This is really why I love your blog.
When I read things like this, I think there is a significant difference in worldview between the “rat-race professionals” and the proponents of homelife (that isn’t necessarily religious). I have many friends who are deeply religious who seem caught up in what Christians would say is “of this world”, and I also have friends who are agnostic or atheist who live for what is intangible, for what does not compute: for pancakes with their children, for gardening, building homemade furniture, reading aloud, etc.
I’ve been chewing on this for some time, because I think it can be easy to reduce the difference in mindset to religion.
What do you think it is? What would you call it?
I know that when I discovered Wendell Berry for the first time, about ten years ago, I was struck and changed. Reading him felt akin to reading Thoreau for the first time, yet being a write of our time, Berry is able to speak to dissatisfaction common to Now, and all of its peculiarities.
Thanks so much for your thoughts.
I don’t know, Amy! Your comment was so thought-provoking. I think that the Christian faith is focused on the eternal and intangible, not that it ignores the physical/material, but that the highest things are unseen. So, I think that simple living and valuing people and life over possessions just fits into the Christian perspective. But that doesn’t mean that non-religious folks wouldn’t have any sense of the importance of “the intangible” as you said. I think many do know and love those truths even if they aren’t seeking them from a faith perspective. So their lives might look similar to those who are valuing the intangible because of their faith. What do you think?
Lindsay (Young Married Mom) says
We are just finishing up a holiday weekend with my family and my husband’s. My son LOVES spending time with his grandparents and aunts and uncles, and I love to see it. But you know what warmed my heart even more? Seeing my husband spend time with HIS brothers and sisters, the youngest of whom are just becoming adults. That’s what matters for him, that’s what matters for us. Building family is not just about the childhood years; hopefully it’s friendships made for life.
That’s a beautiful thought, Lindsay!
$2 million? Worth it. 🙂
I’m glad you read the article, because I couldn’t even bring myself to click on the link. That entire mindset just makes me profoundly sad. I’m about to take a MAJOR pay cut just to get two more days at home with my kids (I know, I’m incredibly fortunate to have that option) and it means no vacations, much less house, fewer activities, lots of goodwill shopping . . . But again, totally worth it. What a world we live in.
You said it all, so I’ll try to refrain from reiterating your points.
It’s terrible that women are publishing lies like “raising a kid costs 2 million,” because I genuinely think it makes many people afraid of having the kids that their hearts tell them they want.
You will NEVER be “perfectly ready” for a child. You will NEVER, by the world’s standards (at least, by upper class American standards), be “financially ready” for a child. I just want hopeful parents to know that it’s not actually about those things. It’s about love. All the talk about “you have to have 2 million” or even “you have to have two incomes” is false and crippling.
YES. I get so sad when friends tell me they’re not ready to start a family even thought they really, really want to because they have been told that they need an unreasonable amount of money in order to provide for their child. Can’t tell you how many times a woman had confided how much she wants a baby but is convinced that they would need more income than they really do in order to have one.
I think another thing that we really need to start thinking about is that parenthood is a state of being, and as such must be considered a calling. Singleness vs. marriage is one of these too. We need to start thinking about making our lives matter for God, and what sorts of work we are called to. And these may change. One may be called to singleness throughout one’s twenties and thirties and then called to marriage in the forties. Or they may come as surprises, such as an unplanned pregnancy. I’m not the expert on this and it’s an idea I’m only just coming to myself…but I am convinced it can no longer be just about what we want, when we want it.
That is so true, Betsy. It’s been the past couple of years that I’ve come to understand our situation, be it marriage, single life, religious life, etc to be a vocation. Something we are called to for the glory of God. Thanks for that beautiful reminder.
Meg Embry says
Boom! I was hoping this link would inspire a response on your blog, and this is a beautiful one. I agree with everything you’ve said here and would add that Taha’s model of giving “the best” to our children will only perpetuate her misunderstanding of what is good in their own minds. What on earth will these people, who have been raised to measure their lives by Taha’s standards, do when they undergo some calamity and lose everything? They will crumble.
I grew up in a trailer park in a tiny mobile home (full of books) with a young widowed mother. She loved me and my brother and above all, Christ, with a real ferocity. We had no money and very few material possessions, but we had the best of creativity, her time, her devotion, her imagination, her discipline, her attention, her prayers, and her sacrifice. She taught me to be content in any circumstance, to be open-handed with what little I have, to know that loving my possessions too much is a kind of slavery but a life with Christ is a life of richness and freedom. She taught me to trust and delight in his providence. What did I lack? Nothing. I would not accept 2 million dollars if it meant losing any of the things she taught me.
This is so beautiful, Meg. I read it aloud to Daniel and have read it over and over. I only hope to be half as wonderful as your amazing mama. What a role model you have as you begin your own journey as a mother!
That really is awesome. Your mom sounds like an amazing woman!
Michelle Murphy says
Thank you so much for this! It was just the kick in the pants that I needed right now. Sometimes when it gets tough, it’s easy to think that if we had more money it would all be better and that is where I had been for the last few weeks. Thanks for bringing me back to my senses!! It reminded me that my kids don’t really care that our house is horribly ugly and dated, they just care that the people they love are there.
Its articles like that one that really makes you realize the huge disconnect that exists in our society between what people think is “happiness” and what is human reality. How sad it will be if she lives her whole life in this way to realize in her elder years, or deathbed, that all the happiness she wanted to “afford” didn’t do much for her!
I always find those numbers on what people spend on their kids ridiculous. I haven’t spent as much on all my children in all their lives as they claim people spend on one child per year. It is such a scare tactic that frightens people who are already scared of children. We have simply become a completely materialistic society.
And used to work with seniors in nursing homes etc and it is very sad when they are alone. The loneliness is palpable. No one wants to die alone, and no one wants to admit that when approaching death many are afraid and want the love of family. Those are the important times in life when we need support whether we believe it or not.
Great post Haley!
Danielle @ Analytical Mom says
Wonderful response! Thank you for writing this, and know that there are SO many of us who feel the same way you do. Children are absolutely a blessing, even when they stretch our tight budgets even tighter!
As a young, married twenty-something I’m not really surprised by her article, and I think you’ll (unfortunately) see this as a growing trend. It’s basically the outworking of feminism to meet your “own desires,” and “need” for career, money, and societal respect above all else (because at least in our culture, being a wife and mom isn’t as valued as it once was, or at least that’s what’s being actively communicated to my generation, which is why I read blogs like these, because I need the support and encouragement!). As an investor, I do believe I need to point out that part of her calculation isn’t that you’d necessarily SPEND 1.7 million per child, but that number includes foregone earnings, such as staying at home and not providing a second income to the household, and unrealized capital gains from not having the extra income to invest over time. It’s precisely why, as an engineer, I lived much “lower” than my income, so I could stuff as much as I could into retirement accounts before quitting my job so that that sum could accumulate and grow and I can stay home with (hopefully!) children and not have to worry about what I’d have for retirement. By the way, the longer you have to invest (or the earlier you invest), without removing capital from your account, the LESS money you need to start with to reach a sizable retirement for later. In that sense, the article is probably more correct than not for her particular earnings potential and perhaps investment skill in calculating the total “cost” of having children. Her equation is basically money spent on child (including college) + foregone income + foregone investment earnings that could have resulted from wisely investing the foregone income and the money spent on a child. One thing she does not take into account though, is that that is a calculation for the cost of one child, but arguably I’d imagine that adding more children isn’t nearly the same cost per child as the initial child is because you already have built up infrastructure and resources (crib, clothes which can be handed down, feeding 4 mouths instead of 3 isn’t that much more money or time to cook, bigger home only happens once, etc).
All that being said, I am definitely FOR having children for many of the good reasons mentioned in your article and the comments. But, I just thought I’d mention that the cost, if calculated over 40 years as she does (which I still think is a bit much) is perhaps more accurate than not for their particular situation and expected expenses if they chose to have a child while maintaining their current expenditures and standard of living (though most people make, as you said, personal sacrifices for their children and don’t try to “maintain” a high lifestyle when they have kids). The key to understanding her numbers is recognizing that that’s not necessarily what you’d SPEND, it includes both what you’d SPEND, and what you wouldn’t EARN through both income and wise investing. For me as a former engineer, her numbers are probably more accurate than not when you include the income I’m not earning and the extra money I’m not able to invest for the sake of being able to stay home with family. The financial sacrifice, though, is absolutely worth it because there is so much more to life than money.
Thanks for your comment, Mara! That does help me understand the numbers more. I guess it still seems strange to calculate what income you might not receive over the course of a child’s life when having a child isn’t a strange or unusual part of human life. I’m just thinking about other scenarios like marriage and friendships. If you decided not to have any human relationships, romantic, platonic, familial, etc. you could work a lot more instead of spending time with people and make a lot more money. But it would be totally weird to calculate that because that’s not a scenario anyone would want. What do you think? (Obviously, you are much more versed in the world of finance than I. I’d love to hear your opinion.)
Exactly. Without any human relationships, you’d basically be Ebeneezer Scrooge: rich, but no spouse, children, or really anyone to care for or who would care about you! So while it’s true that someone who never invested in personal relationships may be “better off” in a strictly financial sense, they would have a poor, lonely, quality of life.
However, although being financially “better off” may be true in the present, it’s actually a very short-term view of life. While we do need SOME money to survive, there are many ways to grow true wealth without necessarily making more money. My husband, also an investor, has noted that anything biological God has made compounds waayyyy faster than what mankind creates. Spend a few dollars on seed for a garden, a little bit of time, and I can tell you that you can grow a lot more value in food than your dollar input cost. Throw a few sheep into a pen (assuming you have both male and female), and over time you end up with huge (non-taxable) growth because those few sheep will multiply to a whole herd. Children, also, represent huge value and wealth. Even from a strictly “financial” perspective, although I may “give up” 1.7 million to have a child, let’s say I have 3 children who all grow up and become productive members of society. I would have basically substituted one life (mine) of “economic productivity” in the present, for approximately THREE TIMES that amount in the future through my children. And that doesn’t even take into consideration if my children have children, and their children have children. How much value, even in strictly economic terms, does that create over time? Quite a lot! The key for me at least, in realizing the value of being a wife and mother and “staying home” is that rather than short term economic gains and influence in the present (through a career), I can have an impact on GENERATIONS of people by the love and care I give to my children and community. It’s a long-term view that seems lost in our culture. Also, even without having children to care for at the moment, I can also tell you from experience that staying home as a wife to care for my husband and our home while not a “financially prudent” move in strict financial terms, has HUGELY increased both my and my husband’s quality of life already by having the time to personally care for our needs. Rather than live off of two incomes and have more things, we live off of one, but we eat better (because I can spend time to cook instead of eating out or eating junk), are healthier, way less stressed (I don’t have to commute 2 hours to and from work everyday and we live right next to his workplace, plus, if something comes up that needs to be done, I can take care of it during the day instead of at nighttime when we’re together), and happier. Plus, I have a little time to learn all the skills about cooking and maintaining a home I didn’t learn while growing up BEFORE I learn how to be a mom. If I have all those benefits now before kids, how much more will I and my family benefit from “staying at home” where I can work hard, not for money, but to nurture and directly improve our quality of life as a family? THAT, to me, is priceless (I also recognize it’s a gift from God to even have the opportunity to do so). Women CAN have a lot of influence on a nation and on an economy, and the biggest way to do that in the long run? Have children.
Molly Makes Do says
Amen, just amen.
Our lives and the lives of the next generations that we can impact have so much more value than the dollar amount assigned by an employer.
I remind myself of this often, as a working mother out of necessity, that my wages are just the exchanges of money for time given and that the money is only necessary to provide my family with things I currently can’t provide with my own two hands. That idea drives me daily to make money less and less of need in our day to day lives.
“The cost of having children is huge. It’s your whole heart. And it couldn’t be more worth it.” – Simply beautiful and hits the nail on the head!
Marcy K. says
I really feel sorry for her, she must have had very little love as a child, with a strong emphasis on money as being all important. I grew up with little money but always having what I needed. I was loved immensely. My husband and I stress love & relationships (not money) as the key to a happy, successful life. She just does not sound happy. And I feel sorry for her for the loneliness she will have as she ages.
My husband and I are very lucky to have grown up in homes that emphasized relationships over financial success. I’m really grateful to my parents for modeling that for us so that we can pass it down to our kids 🙂
So inspiring! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! You REALLY nailed your rebuttal. I have a feeling it isn’t the money that’s actually keeping her from motherhood, as she says. Perhaps she’s hiding behind a larger issue. I feel like with the right perspective and the right man, family on any scale is a possibility. Thank you for keeping your opinion kind and logical, though outrage would have been easy to express with such an insulting article. Taha may really want to ask herself one day “What am I here FOR?” Unfortunately, it may be too late when she realizes she is here to create life and know God.
Thank you again; you have a faithful new fan!
I agree, Alexis. The problem is that she misses the point of it all. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂
Reason 383 that $2 million is insanely off:
Taha’s figure includes things that–arguably–don’t apply to everyone. Things like buying a house in a better school district, higher premiums for the self-insured, the cost of housing unemployed or underemployed adult children, food bills for family pets, income loss, etc. She also uses the Department of Agriculture’s numbers for basics such as transportation, food and clothing. The DoA’s numbers represent an estimated average of what families in certain income brackets spend. Not all of these families attempt to be frugal, especially at the higher income brackets.
Thanks for this commentary. I would guess that after a certain point, more spending on kids doesn’t make them any happier — and might even make them less happy, as they grow up with high expectations of what life should be like. I know I was spoiled growing up and it does not make adult life easier!
Her argument about nursing home patients going un-visited made me feel kind of sad. That phenomenon is entirely related to her arguments about child-bearing: it’s the same culture of individualism that tells us not to have children, that spends recklessly on kids so that they feel “special” and can do what they please, and that keeps elder homes empty.
I understand the ecological arguments for having less children, but that’s an entirely separate argument she hardly acknowledges… I agree that perhaps she made her arguments mostly to justify her disinterest in having kids – at least she did acknowledge that.
Katie Eichelberger says
I just read this post and am so grateful that you wrote it! My husband and I just welcomed our first child in September, and I couldn’t agree with YOU more. 🙂