The Costs of Having Children

Recently, I had coffee with an old friend of mine who was torn over the decision to have a child. His spouse wants a child, as do his parents, but he doesn’t feel ready to take that leap. I told him that I thought he should stick to his guns on the subject, and he looked at me with a mix of shock and relief. He was sure I was going to try to talk him into having a child, given the value I’ve found in being a parent, but I made it very clear to him that there are a lot of deep costs to being a parent and you need to be fully sure of your choice before stepping up to the plate.

The best decision I have ever made in my life (other than arguably the choice to marry my wife) was to have children. My toddler-aged son and my infant daughter are two of the true high points in my life, and I genuinely enjoy every minute that I get to spend with them. The high point of my average day right now is the moment when my son comes in the door and shouts loudly, “DAD!” and we then play a loud game of Marco Polo from wherever I am in the house until we meet up, usually in the living room or the kitchen.

Many parents who experience this joy often tell others how wonderful it all is and encourage them to have children of their own, and I understand why a person would make that recommendation. I deeply enjoy fatherhood, and it’s something that has added an incredible amount of value to my life – why wouldn’t I want that same value to be added to the lives of my friends?

Yet, in the end, I generally encourage people not to become parents. The joys of parenting come with a great number of costs, and these costs really add up. If you’re not ready to commit to those costs fully, then you should wait on parenthood.

The financial costs of children are well documented. You should expect to spend a quarter of a million dollars, all told, on your child by the time they walk out the door. That’s a lot of cash. But it’s not the only cost, and it is the other costs that really add up over the years:

Time Let’s say, on average, you spend three hours a day on child care over the eighteen years of their childhood. That’s almost 20,000 hours, or 821 days around the clock, or two and a quarter years of around-the-clock time devoted to child care.

Freedom Especially in the early years of a child’s life, the ability to just pick up and do something on the spur of the moment is gone. You can still go out sometimes, but it comes at the cost of finding a babysitter you trust and also working with that sitter’s schedule.

Experiences With three hours out of an average day suddenly gone, you find yourself with a lot less time to enjoy other pursuits. Your schedule becomes hard to synchronize with others as well, leaving you with much more limited opportunities for hobbies and other activities.

Career advancement Career advancement is still possible, but climbing the ranks after the birth of a child often means spending less time with the child and not forming as deep of a bond. You end up feeling pulled in a lot of directions, and it feels quite stressful.

Marital stress To a point, you lose some of the time you used to have to bond with your spouse. You’re also injecting the dynamic of a new person into the core of your life. Flavors of loneliness, inadequacy, confusion, and jealously will float through the marriage when a child comes along – and you have to be strong enough to make things work through these changes.

That doesn’t mean that I think becoming a parent is a bad move. It’s not. The real message here is don’t let anyone use peer pressure or social pressures to convince you to become a parent. If all of your friends are having children, that’s not a reason to become a parent. If your parents are hinting for grandchildren, that’s not a reason to become a parent. If your spouse is getting anxious, that’s not a reason to become a parent.

The one reason, the real reason, to become a parent is because you truly want to. You’ll know it if you do – if you read that list of costs above and yet still keep thinking about a child, you should probably have one, for instance. If you find yourself thinking a lot about adding a child to your life and the thoughts are positive, you’re probably ready.

If you’re not genuinely committed, though, children are not worth the costs. They demand – and deserve – your full love, attention, and care, and that comes with a very high cost, one that many people out there, unfortunately, are not equipped to pay. The investment only comes with a fair return (a well-rounded young person that you helped to raise) if you truly feel the calling to become a parent.

In short, if someone is trying to convince you to become a parent and you don’t feel it, don’t make that leap. The cost to you – and to that unborn child – is very high, and it’s not fair to either one of you to expect you to pay it when you’re not ready.

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  1. LC says:

    I like that you point out the non financial costs of children. Everyone hears the $250,000 figure (not including college) but the reality is that if you are willing to sacrifice the time and love, you will most likely find a way to afford them. It’s the non material things that are more important (within reason).

  2. mgroves says:

    My wife & I decided to have a child, and he is a few months away. The only question I had was not “if” I wanted children, but “when”.

    A great piece of advice my father gave me was that if I wait until I can “afford” to have children, I’ll be waiting forever.

    This isn’t to say that the time is always “now”, as there are many other factors, but I came to the realization that there was always “one more thing” to do before having children.

  3. Jeff says:

    I found you today due to your “The Best Business/Money Blogs in 2007″ award (congrats by the way) and can tell by reading through this and past articles that this is the start of a beautiful relationship. Consider yourself bookmarked!

  4. Katie says:

    I think this is an incredibly well-rounded post with respect to the big decision “to have kids, or not to have kids”.

    Well said, Trent… well said!

  5. Seth says:

    The reason parents recommend others to have children when they are on the fence is the amount of joy children bring to their lives. Before you have kids of your own you do not truly understand this. I knew I always wanted kids, but before that became a reality I couldn’t have imagined the amount of joy a child brings. Lots of times people feel they are not “ready” to have children when in fact all you really need to provide is your love.

  6. Ryan says:

    If you are above average intelligence, please, by all means have lots of kids so that your genetic line is passed down. If you are ghetto or trailer trash (or illegal) that relys on the goverment for your well being, please refrain from doing so. I don’t mean to be rude, but we already have enough low lifes in society.

  7. DivaJean says:

    Damn Ryan. Aryan SuperRace much?

    As for the whole parenting issue:
    Why not ADOPT rather than breed if you feel the need to parent? You are not adding to the overall population and with older children, there is usually a stipend from the state to help offset costs of raising a child.

  8. Tori says:

    Mmmmmm, trolls.

  9. Heidi says:

    This is a very thoughtful post on what I think is the single biggest choice a person can make. Thanks, Trent.

    When I was in my early 20’s I wanted children for the same reason I wanted to get married, becuase everyone else was doing it. As I get older and I more and more convinced that I don’t want kids. My fiance thinks that I’m going to change my mind – but I keep telling him: “If you really want children, you’re marrying the wrong girl – get out now.” Why do some people have such a hard time believing that someone truly doesn’t want to be a parent?

    I’m also getting a lot of pressure from my parents who want children and siblings who want cousins for their kids to play with. Someday they will listen to me when I tell them that this is something I feel pretty stongly about.

    My reasons for not wanting kids have nothing to do with the financial costs, or even the emotional ones. I adore children and love being an aunt. I just don’t see myself as a mom.

    That being said, Life is funny, and if it happens – I will roll with it. And there is a chance I will wake up at age 38 and decide that I simply must reproduce…but for now, I’m just not feeling it.

  10. RP says:

    Wow, Ryan. Thanks for that.

  11. Tiffany says:

    lol @ Ryan. Okay there.

    Trent, I really like this post. To be honest, I had a child when I was NOT financially prepared. But when I found myself pregnant, I weighed everything and realized I truly wanted to become a parent. I am now an incredibly happy mother.

  12. Thanks for this thoughtful post. I’m childfree-by-choice and I frequently hear from parents telling me I’m not complete without children, or that I should pass on my genes, or that it’s totally different once you hold your baby in your arms.

    Well, I don’t believe that it’s ALWAYS totally different. I volunteer a lot with the foster care system, and I often run into people who were well-respected professionals who had kids and their lives just fell apart afterwards — the finances, the stress, the boredom, the entrapment. You can divorce a spouse if you marry the wrong person but you can’t really divorce your child without huge repercussions for all parties.

    If you aren’t dying to become a parent, choosing to be childfree is a perfectly valid and wonderful choice :)

  13. turbogeek says:

    I only disagree on one point. I do encourage people to have children, or to adopt. The joy of raising children is, to me, incomparable.

    Trent is right that each person should count the cost, mainly on the non-financial side, before having kids. If you are not ready to fully invest the time and emotion necessary then you have no business shaping another person’s life. (Kids, after all, are just little people.)

    Excellent post.

  14. KellyKelly says:

    Fantastic post, Trent. I didn’t think I could respect you more than I already did, but I do. You managed to write that without sounding at all conscending to those of us who are “not up for the challenge.”

    The problem with this discussion is that it is totally TABOO in this culture to suggest that there is a good and a bad, a better and a best, a not-so-good, etc. way to raise a kid.

    Parents want to say love is all you need and that work out OK. Obviously in many, many cases that is clearly not true. The criminals and the miserable people and the addicts … the root causes are in the early years of life. Parents don’t get the total blame, of course, but some seem to forget they give birth to an 18-year-old who happens to be small and cute for a very, very short time.

    If we could be less PC about the issue, children might be brought into more stable families to begin with and not be some rite of passage everyone feels entitled to regardless of their ability to raise a child (dare I say it) “the right way.”

  15. PiFreak says:

    @Ryan

    SO TRUE

    The huge families that I know (my extended family includes illegals, Phillipenos, Kansas people) are all people that I don’t want to associate with for the most part.

    The small families (I’m an only child) are great people typically. I’m a straight A kid (possibly one B this year in a college class as a Jr.), and my parents are both great.

  16. MS says:

    I completely disagree with Seth. A child does not equal joy to everybody that has one (see how many are put up for adoption each year), and a child DOES require more than just love…as Trent outlined. To think otherwise is a very Pollyanna idealism. I’m glad it worked out for you, but it’s really not for everybody.

    A lot of people just “find” themselves pregnant.

    Some people just don’t feel the need to breed, yet some how still manage to find a lot of joy in life. It’s insulting to think that ones life is thought of as joyless…or doesnt have enough joy, because of the lack of a child in it.

    The cult of the child marches on…
    http://everything2.com/index.pl?node_id=553046

  17. Kim N says:

    I agree with a lot of your points, but I would hesitate to advise anyone not to have children. It is one thing if they do not want children at all and another if they are just waiting for “the right time”. I have known many people who kept waiting for the right time and then struggled for years with infertility because of age or health issues. I also have friends who wish they had started sooner so they could have more. My husband and I waited for a few years and then had four children in six years and I am glad we waited the time we did, but as soon as I had my first I could see that there is never the perfect time. We just decided when we wanted to add to our family and we worked everything else out along the way. This doesn’t always work, but most of the time we can adjust our situation and make sacrifices if having a child is really important to us.

    KellyKelly, I agree with you. I think people that shouldn’t be having children do all the time. I am just referring to responsible, committed, and secure potential parents.

    By the way Trent, I just found your blog last week and I have really enjoyed it. Keep it up!

  18. Michael says:

    mgroves said:”A great piece of advice my father gave me was that if I wait until I can “afford” to have children, I’ll be waiting forever.”

    Then wait forever. I love my (unborn) children too much to have them now, when they would lack many of the advantages I’ll be able to provide for them in 10 years (I’m 35 and make a good living, but expect — and am working towards — greater things in the future).

    If 10 years rolls around and I still don’t feel that I can provide my children with the lives they deserve, then I’ll likely choose not to have them. What’s wrong with that?

  19. Kat says:

    This is a wonderful post! I am so glad to hear a a parent not get down on those of us who don’t want kids. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for not pushing the idea on people or for making people who aren’t sure (or are sure) about having kids feel they must have them.

    I agree with KellyKelly as well.

  20. Johanna says:

    Word, Heidi.

    I used to always assume that I would have children someday for no other reason than that that’s what people do. Then in my mid-20s I had a bit of a revelation that not having children was indeed an option. I realized that I don’t have to plan my whole life (career, finances, health, etc.) around having children if I don’t want to – and I don’t want to.

    I think it is fantastic, Trent, that you see that just because becoming a parent was the right choice for you doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for everyone. I wish more parents understood that.

  21. jayne says:

    It’s nice to see someone drive this point home. I’m decidedly childfree, and will likely be for most of my life. But while PF bloggers always seem happy to tell you to get rid of the dog that you can’t afford, most gravitate away from telling people that it’s possible to make poor decisions re: if and when to have children. Children are expensive, and they’re not for everyone. If you can’t afford them (financially, emotionally, time-wise, etc.) you need to hold off and rethink things.

  22. Gayle says:

    for Heidi.

    You need to take responsibility here and if you truly know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you will never give your husband (now fiance) the children that he wants YOU should break up with him.

    Right now each of you thinks the other will give in. And pragmatically someone will. That person will be deeply unhappy and resentful and several years down the road there will be another addition to the appalling divorce statistics.

    Believe me, love does not conquer all.

  23. Andrew Stevens says:

    I am astonished that a PF blogger endorses the view that a child costs a quarter of a million dollars. I can only conclude that I starved to death many years ago and never noticed it. My mother’s total earnings never amounted to a million dollars (even in today’s dollars) and she somehow raised four children.

    But the advice you really should have given your friend was before he got married. I think it’s fairly ridiculous that people get married when they don’t agree on kids. That’s just monumentally irresponsible.

  24. tubaman-z says:

    Before we had our daughter I was very self-absorbed, self-centered, and thought of little but myself (and my wife). We were DINKs, money came in quickly and went out quickly. This is a very easy pattern and lifestyle to fall into when you have nothing to concern yourself with but yourself. It wasn’t until our daughter was born (and while I wanted a child, I wasn’t ready to be a dad – but then I think that few are really ready) that my eyes were opened to how I’d been living. As I was surrounded by others behaving the same way I had been unable to see it in myself. Being a self-absorbed adult is much harder when you have children.

  25. Demeron says:

    Trent made some very worthwile points BUT you 20 somethings should bear in mind, the wife who wants a baby has a window of fertility that starts declining in her 30s, drops sharply at 37 and shuts like a steel trap for most women in their very early 40s. Energy and health are not as endless as we’d like to think. Bodies reproduce best in the 20s and early 30s, so it’s not a decision to be postponed indefinitely.

  26. SMB says:

    From another happily childfree woman, thank you!

  27. KellyKelly says:

    Heidi,
    I lost a very good relationship over this issue. He, too, thought I would change my mind. After several years he realized I really, really meant it … I was not going to be a parent.

    When I tried to explain to him my side of things I would ask very simple questions about he envisioned our lives caring for an infant, then toddler, then child, etc.

    I would say, “Our child is nine months old. It’s Thursday afternoon. Where is he? At day care? How much does day care cost? Is he at your mother’s house? What about her failing health? What if she dies, then where is our nine month old kid?”

    And as smart as he was, he would NEVER engage in the conversation. Because it broke the bubble, the fantasy. All that boring, nuts and bolts stuff.

    It’s like women who want the wedding, but don’t think about the marriage. The average bride buys seven of those thick “Bride” magazines. But where is “Marriage” magazine?

    It doesn’t exist. Those nuts and bolts topics are stuck inside those magazines with the cakes on the cover. Same with parenting magazines … they always show babies and toddlers on the cover, not nine year olds or 14-year-olds.

    This culture puts so much emphasis on the new (baby, wedding) and not on, as Trent wrote yesterday, the Long Journey. On the daily grind.

  28. Mary says:

    I’ve seen that $250K per child figure quoted before, and while there is no doubt that children are expensive, I question it. I’ve read that it includes the cost differential to move up to a larger house, for example, but that is not a necessity. We have three children in a 2000 sq ft, 3 br 2 ba house, and our two sons share a room and probably will do so until one goes off to college. So what? It’s good for them, and it helps our family work towards our more important goals of foreign travel, debt-free college, and a secure retirement. Our kids wear mostly hand-me-down clothes (so do I, for that matter), and while my 10-year-old swears that every other kid in his class has a cell phone, our kids do not.

    We are solidly middle-to-upper-middle income level, and we do spend money on our kids in ways that reflect our values: private music lessons, sports leagues, travel, and lots of books. But that $250K figure assumes a lot that is not necessarily so.

    I also do not advise people to have children unless they are sure that they want to; my philosophy is that every child deserves to have parents who want to be parents. But I would say to those that are on the fence, you do not have an infinite amount of time to make that decision. I was fortunate not to have any fertility issues despite having children at ages 33, 35 and 40, but some of my colleagues have not been so lucky.

  29. mp says:

    As far as the issue of career advancement, in one of my college econ classes, my prof presented a study that showed that for men, their salaries go up after they have children, compared to men without children. the theory behind that is that the cost and responsibility of children encourage men to take work more seriously. for women, their salaries go down which i guess is sort of expected as well.

  30. Seth says:

    How many parents look back on their lives and wish they never had children? Compare that to how many people look back on their lives and wish they had children (or more)?

  31. Annie says:

    Ten years ago, I used to give the same advice–“if you are not certain that you want to be a parent, don’t have a child.” But my wise mother pointed out a flaw in that thinking–the desires of the spouse. One consideration that has not been addressed is that your friend’s wife wants a child. Denying your spouse the opportunity to be a parent is a huge issue. It is not as cut and dried as you have laid out. It is not unreasonable for her to expect to have children unless he made it clear that he didn’t want children before they married or became intimate. His parents, however, carry no weight in the decision. But I think that is obvious.

  32. Kaitie Tee says:

    I’m there with Heidi. I don’t think I’ll ever want kids. Luckily my husband feels the same way. We just don’t ever find ourselves with the desire to have a baby. But we are both open to the possibility that we could change our minds in the future. However, we won’t have a child unless both of us are on board with the idea.

    I’m just glad that someone is saying that we don’t have to have kids if we don’t want to. It seems like it’s very common for family and friends to pressure others into having kids. This always makes me feel incredibly uncomfortable – as if there’s something wrong with me for not wanting a child.

  33. turbogeek says:

    I’ve got to weigh in again…

    (Michael, Kat, KellyKelly, others): Those of you who said you are waiting to have children until you are more comfortable in your ability to provide: BRAVO from a Father of 3. Until you are ready, on all fronts, I support you and believe you are doing the best thing.

    When you ARE ready, you still won’t be ‘ready’… but the rewards of taking on the awesome responsibility of little people’s lives is worth the added personal cost — but that is your choice. There are many worthwhile pursuits for your time, money, and personal beleifs that don’t necessarily have to be expressed in raising children.

    I’m not a 20-something, my wife and I waited a while, and at 37 I have 3 children below the age of 6. We are already teaching them some basic money skills, as they are integral to all other life skills. And, as KellyKelly so aptly put, there is such a thing as good and bad, as worse and better, and as unacceptable, and best. Sometimes the difference in those is in quality, sometimes it is in timing. Taking the time to make those choices carefully, and committing to the choices we make, is what determines whether we act with integrity, or with duplicity.

    Again, great post, and great discussion.

  34. Heidi says:

    @Gayle – Thanks for your concern. We are both well aware that ‘love does not conquer all.’

    No worries, my partner is ok with no kids as long as we travel lots, have interesting jobs (maybe abroad at some point) and, in his words, “have a big life.” Our bicycling club as many couples in their 50’s that are DINKs – they all live big lives – and we’re modeling our marriage after theirs.

  35. ben says:

    Thanks so much for writing about this subject as a choice that people should consider. So many have children because it’s ‘what people do’ instead of weighing the pros and cons and really reflecting for themselves whether they want one of their own. I know many parents who love their kids unconditionally but really had no idea what they were getting themselves into and if they could do it over again might make a different choice.

    Remember that the choice to have a child is the choice to dedicate the next 18 years of your life (at least) to someone who you have never met. You don’t know who they’ll be, who they’ll become, what they’ll be like, whether they’ll like you, vote like you, think like you, etc. Of course there is a good chance that a few of these things will align with your values, but an equally good chance many will not. This isn’t an argument against having children…just something I think people should consider first.

    Also, the 18 years commitment may be a low estimate. My spouse’s brother continues to live with his parents. He is 31. They have spent over $100k in cash to send him to special schools, colleges, etc. hoping he might someday be capable of holding down a job of his own and living independently. What’s wrong with him? Nothing major, other than a taste for drugs that hold him back. So for them their second child is so far a 30 year commitment plus hundreds of thousands in cash.

  36. Clint Lawton says:

    This is one point that I don’t agree with. If I would have not had children till I could afford them I would have been over 40 when I was just getting started. But I now have 3 and one on the way. They are way more important than any of the money I have or will have ever. and just think they will be off to college by the time I am ready to retire…or I could have just started to have them.

    food for thought.

    clint lawton

    http://www.a-debt-free-life.com

  37. catfood says:

    Great post, Trent. But I want to amend what you said:

    In short, if someone is trying to convince you to become a parent and you don’t feel it, don’t make that leap.

    I would add to that: “Even if that someone is your spouse or partner.”

  38. Wendy says:

    Okay, there seems to be one big thing that is missing in this discussion: there is an enormous difference between ‘being’ financially ready for kids and ‘feeling’ financially ready for kids. I’m happy that biology, spousal agreement, and actually wanting to be parents has already been brought up. However, someone can feel they are financially ready for kids but have a completely unrealistic view of what that means, and someone else can have everything well lined up, but never actually feel financially ready.

    I fall into the second group, and this pregnancy (baby is due in May) is the result of a level of confidence that only lasted about 10 minutes every few months, but that is all it took.

    On paper everything looks okay, even with me quitting my job for a few years, but if we waited until we felt it was the right time financially, we would have hit a brick wall called menopause, because I never have that kind of confidence in feeling fully prepared for something that carries so many unknowns.

  39. KT says:

    Trent,
    Love the website and the post, hate the racist comments. How about removing references to “ghetto”, “illegals”, “Philipenos”, etc?

  40. My parents decided to have a third child (not myself, my 14-year-old sister) to save and revive their marriage.

    It only made them more miserable, strapped for money about how they were going to pay for college and her outside activities such as tennis lessons. Potential parents should also consider not just the financial costs of having children they’re not financially prepared for but the emotional and health-related costs. This third child my parents are fighting over in divorce court has put an emotional strain on my youngest sister.

    Mental health costs are just as expensive as financial ones also. It’s what I’m currently experiencing.

  41. tubaman-z says:

    While this is a PF blog, there are some interesting and far more widespread economic consequences of the decisions to forgo or substantially delay having children. For example the population of the Czech Republic is projected to drop by 20 percent over the next 40 years, to 8 million from 10 million. There are serious national and international consequences that the EU is already dealing with due to their decline in birthrate. Having a child should always be a personal decision, but whatever you choose there are effects far beyond your own household.

  42. jmac says:

    I would love to see a realistic monthly budget of childcare expenses. You see the $250k sum all over, but it is never broken down to what the actual costs of raising a child are. Any of you parents out there that actually budget care to share what you pay to raise the little one?

    Thanks!

  43. Pres says:

    Trent, I admire how you tackle this sensitive subject.
    In my country (Belgium) people say that “raising a child costs a house”.
    Well, I’ve chosen the house! :-)
    I can understand how parenting can be very satisfying (my own brother is a very proud dad). But I crave peace and quiet and need lots of time for the activities that I love. So I got a vasectomy and I’ve never regretted it.
    Not everybody realises that having kids is not an obligation, it’s a choice and one of the most important ones of your life.

  44. freshstart says:

    I respect peoples’ choice not to have children if they don’t want to. I think it is much more responsible choice than to have children and neglect them..

    Just one thing. I want to respond to Marina Martin’s post.It is totally different once you hold your baby in your arms. Those who are telling you this are right.

    There is nothing, nothing can describe the feeling when you are holding your child in your arms for the first time.

    Until you experience this you’ll never know what it means.

  45. Gayle says:

    Heidi, my apologies for my misinterpretation of your situation.

    However, I maintain the position that agreement on this issue is fundamental to the success of a marriage.

  46. KellyKelly says:

    Freshstart,

    I think I understand what Marina Martin meant in her post. That birth euphoria doesn’t last.

    When my older sister gave birth to her daughter, she showed a giddiness, a happiness I’ve never seen in her before. It was startling and very reassuring; she seemed capable and strong.

    Well, it’s 10 years later and she has been miserable for about the past 9.5 years.

    The financial stress and worry and the tedium and isolation of parenting day to day have been more than she has been able to manage, despite her love for her child.

  47. JB says:

    It seems the reasons you list to wait are all rather selfish.

    Parenthood is a crash course in selflessness.

    Grow up and learn that there is more to life than your own personal wants and needs.

  48. Michael says:

    “How many parents look back on their lives and wish they never had children? Compare that to how many people look back on their lives and wish they had children (or more)?”

    My question: How many children look at their parents and their lives and say “What the hell were you thinking having kids when you can barely take care of us??” Love is fabulous, but it doesn’t get your kid a first class education — or even put food on the table. My parents were idiots to have kids when they were so young and unprepared, and my sister and I suffered throughout our childhoods because of it.

    Some people want kids selfishly, the way they might want a new car or a puppy. I want children so that I can give them all the things I didn’t have as a kid: opportunity, and all the tools they’ll need to be whatever they want to be. If that day never comes, so be it.

    Thanks to all for the thoughtful discussion today!

  49. I’m very pleased to see Trent’s statement that those who can’t afford kids shouldn’t have them. The attitude some harbor that one should suspend financial analysis and have kids without serious consideration of the monetary costs because of their desire for the mushy joy of having children is foolish and offensive, and ultimately costs me as a US taxpayer the big bucks.

    Next, I’d like to see an article about the real cost of marriage. It seems nobody in the PF blogosphere wants to admit that divorce, alimony, child support, and gold-diggers are very real risks.

  50. MS says:

    “Parenthood is a crash course in selflessness.
    Grow up and learn that there is more to life than your own personal wants and needs.”

    Selfishness is a *BAD* thing? It is my life and I am happy that I have the choice to do with it whatever I want.

    “Before we had our daughter I was very self-absorbed, self-centered, and thought of little but myself (and my wife). We were DINKs, money came in quickly and went out quickly. This is a very easy pattern and lifestyle to fall into when you have nothing to concern yourself with but yourself.”

    YES!!! I am very self-absorbed, self-centered, and think of little but myself.

    I LOVE living life for myself! Yay me!

  51. Kat says:

    tubaman-z, The world was fine when 1 million people were living in it. It will still be fine if the population goes down a bit.

    And for those of you who think those of us who don’t want to have children are just selfish people. I would reconsider. Since I don’t have children and I will have extra income in future, I can help out more in my community with both my time and money. Time and money spent helping out kids whose parents had them and now ignore them for example.
    There has to be a balance in nature. Those of us not wanting kids are evening out those who do. Nature used to help balance it out as well, but people now feel the need to play God with their ferility, it is now even more up to us non-child wanters to balance things out.

  52. Frugal Dad says:

    I appreciated that you didn’t focus your post on the financial costs of having kids, as this is usually the only “cost” discussed. I also think too many well-deserving couples put off having kids because of the financial strain, when in fact if they would give up some of their lavish toys they could afford to have a kid or two.

  53. guinness416 says:

    my extended family includes illegals, Phillipenos, Kansas people

    I’m laughing so hard at this bizarre, awful non-sequitur in a comment up above that I can barely formulate a comment … lots of people seem to extrapolate from their situation to a general rule when it comes to this subject more than any other, it seems to me. That you spent all your cash before you had kids, for example, doesn’t mean that other singles or DINKs don’t have their finances in order. And so forth. Anyway, good job poking the hornets nest again Trent!

  54. DaveOR says:

    Good for you, to take on the taboo. And yes, if you can’t take care of yourself, you probably will do a worse job of caring for a child. Ride a city bus, look into family courts, overloaded foster care, etc.

    My wife and I don’t have kids and it was, and is, not an easy choice. I know several people who had them with much less thought that we put into not – “we weren’t really planning on it but got pregnant and…”, “that’s just what you do when you’re married” then they got divorced and now the kids are ping-ponging between households that are semi-kidless and their schedules reflect it – quality time is more in the car that in the home. And yet we get odd looks and tones about our decision.

    An additional warning if you choose not to, you will have second thoughts. You’ll worry about growing older alone, even as a couple, and who will look out for you. Remember some really good people have kids, raise them right and they end up cleaning their parents out or worse. Don’t go for it without some thought – volunteer with kids, spend more time with nieces & nephews, but realize this still isn’t the full deal. Consider adoption, we know several people who have done it and all have done really well.

    I always find it interesting that when it comes to having children and finances the majority of parents, and politicians, talk about a need for more funding for education and programs but always vote for the kid credits. And you almost NEVER here them say “I’m taking some of that manye and putting into my kid’s school”. Which really means that it must be someone elses responsibility, because those without children obviously aren’t paying enough into the system.

  55. Amanda says:

    I find that the unconscious usually has very good reason for what it dictates. If this gentleman does not want to have a child – for ANY reason – he should wait. There is nothing worse than having an unwanted child. Not only do you know it, but the child (even on an instinctual level) knows it too.

  56. Sandra says:

    Super post, Trent! My husband and I are really on the fence about having children, partially because on any given day we flip between “Aw, they’re so cute” to “Children totally suck it”, but mostly because we realize we are in no position to take on the awesome financial responsibility that comes with having kids. We’re on the heavy debt repayment plan and making serious headway – I wouldn’t want to disrupt that. Furthermore, we’re just too damn selfish – we like our life the way it is right now and don’t feel the need to change. Will this view change? Probably. But maybe not. In the meantime, posts like this help for those of us who haven’t quite made up our minds on this very serious undertaking.

  57. Simple Tam says:

    Trent,

    I have been following your blogs closely for a few weeks now but this is the first time I am commenting. This is a very well written post especially for people contemplating having children. I definitely agree that monetary aspects are not the only things that should play a major role in your decision. Emotional satisfaction is of utmost importance. And if you feel at peace with yourself taking the step, you definitely should.

  58. Lisa says:

    re:PiFreak

    ‘Tis a shame that you are a college junior who can’t spell “Filipinos”. Now, what was that about not spoiling the gene pool??

    re: having children

    Children are costly in OH, SO many ways and anyone who is not self-sacrificing will resent the time, energy, money and emotional demands of a child. If you are not generous or if you are self-absorbed, then do not do it – no matter how much money you have. Moneywise, one does not need to be rich – one needs to have marketable and transferable skills, a steady job, saving habits and frugality and the fortitude to not have to keep up with the Joneses… trust me, your child will have enough of that attitude for the whole family!!

  59. SJean says:

    Somewhat of a touchy subject, but the comments aren’t as defensive/preachy as I expected!

    I do think that if his wife really is ready for kids, and he really isn’t yet, they need to find a resolution they both can live with. It sounds like it could be a big source of conflict, simply “sticking to his guns” isn’t necessarily the answer.

    Haha, so says the unmarried childless girl who has no idea about marriage or children. :)

  60. Paula says:

    Choosing to be “childfree” (a rather defensive way to say it isn’t it?) is definately a viable way to live. Just as wonderful as a choice to be childwealthy :)

    I’d just ask that you make sure you know what you want, now and in the future.

    I have had two instances in my life where an older man (I’m a single mother) has been just as attracted to becoming part of my family as he was to me. I don’t date so it wasn’t happening. It was sad though.

    To each their own I say! My children are expensive and all mine:)

  61. vh says:

    “It seems the reasons you list to wait are all rather selfish.

    “Parenthood is a crash course in selflessness.

    “Grow up and learn that there is more to life than your own personal wants and needs.”

    This is the kind of social pressure that shoves people who never should be parents into having children. The result is child abuse, divorce, and misery.

    What right does anyone have to tell an adult that she or he must dedicate her or his life to someone else’s idea of “selflessness”?

    Thanks, Trent, for the intelligent and thoughtful post. One thing I would add to the discussion is that people who are contemplating marriage should talk about this issue BEFORE tying the knot. If one person absolutely does not want a child, both people should recognize that and agree to it…without expecting a change of heart in the future. It’s unfair to expect a person who very much wants children to forego that desire, nor is it reasonable to demand that a person who knows that she or does not want them to take on the huge financial, social, and psychological responsibilities entailed in raising kids.

  62. Diane says:

    It’s past my bedtime so I haven’t read all the comments already written. In case no one has mentioned, I think the greatest toll that children take is not on the pocketbook, but on the heart. From the moment they first draw breath, to the moment you draw your last, they are forever and always on your mind. You worry about them, then their spouses, then their children and on and on ad infinitum. It is both awful and wonderfully amazing.

  63. Along says:

    I guess the lesson to be learnt here is that you not only should be financially ready for a child, but also emotionally and spiritually ready as well.

    When hubby and I got married, I got pregnant right away. Pregnancy was horrible for me but 2 years later, we decided to have another one. Yet an even worst pregnancy. Still we tried again last year for #3. Turns out 2007 lead to 2 miscarriages.

    If we hadn’t been emotionally and spiritually ready to have kids, the horrible pregnancies and the miscarriages would have done us in.

    Money is essential to start a family but it’s not the only thing. However I feel that every potential parent should at least do some basic calculations on diapers, milk formula and other baby stuff then times that with 100 and then ask themselves, can I really afford this.

    It’s nice to have a baby out of love but horrible when you can’t even afford to buy milk formula for him/her when s/he’s hungry.

  64. Chris says:

    I think anyone reading this blog about finance and children is probably astute enough to both be good parents and make the financial decision required to raise children.

    That being said I have to comment on the 250k number. That number assume you are middle class working citizen. I personally have met people who not only raise their children for free but the government pays them to do so. They do not incur any where near that number. Children are a political hot button the lower you income is the more programs you qualify for. I experienced this when I had my first son in college. We recieved child care subsidies, cheap
    immunizations, free formula and even eggs and milk for his mom. That was 8 years ago now I am raising my new son at my own expense. Its a whole new world out there when you don’t qualify squat.
    Given the way the system works I would be inclined to say the societal Cost to raise one Child is 250k

  65. buffalo says:

    re: MS

    No offense, but in my opinion, yes, selfishness is a bad thing.

  66. Macinac says:

    We were not married at the time, but we got pregnant. No problem, I thought, we can fix that. No way! said she, so we went through with it. By the time the baby was one year old, I knew I wanted another one, and so we did it. Now we have two that are two years apart (12 and 14) and the wonder of our lives. We do lots of things as a family, from ice skating to algebra; and the girls are each other’s best friends.

    If I could convince the wife, I would readily have two more. She gives various reasons, but I think it’s really financial. Anyway, it takes two to tango and she ain’t dancin’.

  67. Jessica says:

    And you know, some people do learn selflessness without having kids. Just the way some of us learn to be frugal without ever having to go into massive debt.

    Hopefully people have learned to be a little selfless before they were married too….

  68. Paul says:

    Martin Luther said: “God creates children, let Him worry about feeding them.”

  69. Pam says:

    Human civilization survived for 100,000’s of thousands of years but because we don’t have the money for plasma TVs and iPhones, we must stop reproducing until we’re officially ready.

    I can easily name 6 continents that are having many, many children with no hope of ever getting close to making 250k let alone 10k over a ten year period and those people are doing just fine. No, they don’t have steak and lobster for dinner every night but they do keep the human race alive and it’s ironic that those people are so much more valuable to society than the breedless wonders of America.

  70. Anon says:

    I think putting the thought into the issue and recognizing that you are currently too selfish or not in a place to raise kids is actually very self-LESS. Some people don’t even give it that much thought, they just have ‘em and deal with providing for them as it comes up.

    there’s enough kids in the world–no one HAS to have them to keep the human race going. Ultimately, having kids IS selfish if you are having them because YOU WANT THEM–it is your want to provide for a child and keep your biological line going. If you don’t have kids because you don’t want them, that doesn’t make you any more selfish than those that have them, in my perspective. Neither side is any more selfish than the other. Recognizing that you don’t want kids and making sure you don’t have ‘em IS being grown up, NOT selfish.

  71. Melinda says:

    Back and forth we go. Child-free vs. parents. Let’s all just agree on what Trent is saying, shall we? Kids are expensive – perhaps to some people not $250k, perhaps to others more than that. Put some thought into having/not having/raising/not raising children. There are great reasons for having children, and great reasons for not having children. Neither side is better than the other.

    Let’s just respect each others’ decisions on what to do with our lives without the name-calling and holier-than-thou judgments.

  72. Andrea says:

    Trent,

    Thank you for this post. My husband and I have had this discussion on many occasions. Maybe it takes hearing it from someone outside the marriage to make it click. Though it still doesn’t really change my desire to have a child, just makes me more sensitive to my husbands feelings.

  73. Million Dollar Journey says:

    Hey Trent, I don’t mean to plug my own site, but if you’re interested, I wrote an article yesterday (and today) about newborn baby expenses.

    All the best!
    FT

  74. Tyler says:

    The thing that people are missing is that BEFORE you are married, that is the time you as a couple must decide if that person wants or doesn’t want kids, not in the marriage! Doing this sets up pressure. Sure, things change, but if that person said before you got married that they did not want kids, turning back on that decision is incredibly selfish. It’s best to get a divorce and find another spouse that wants a child rather than have a child and regret it. The child and others will all suffer from this…

  75. tightwadfan says:

    It’s difficult enough doing a good job raising children when both parents wanted the kids. That’s why I NEVER pressure/encourage ambivalent people to become parents.

    I have seen so many of my friends with the attitude, “When the baby’s born, everything will be different, he’ll love being a dad.” Yeah, he’s the dad who doesn’t want to be seen in a minivan and has a trapped look on his face as he talks about his weekend plans to go to Home Depot and a soccer game. Yes, having kids can change people and make them less selfish. But is that really what you want in a father for your children? Wouldn’t you rather they have a father who wants them as much as you do?

    I couldn’t agree with you more, Trent. I also couldn’t agree more with those who said make sure you’re both on the same page about kids BEFORE you get married. Absolutely essential!!!

  76. AnKa says:

    I have not read all the responses to apologies if I am repeating. But since this is a financial blog, I think a factor that most people don’t consider is the (emotional and financial) high cost of trying to have a baby when it’s biologically too late.
    In our society it has become un-PC to say that it could be too late, biologically. Many up-and-coming young women (like myself) are encouraged to wait until they’re 35 or ‘when their career is established’ to become mothers.
    This is not a sustainable choice for a society to make (I am not telling individuals what to do, obviously). We are going to face the same problems eventually where educated women will bear only very few children and this will on the long run have a large impact on the economy.
    You can look to Germany and Italy, for example, to see how the governments there are working hard to reverse this trend.
    The US doesn’t have this problem yet, because it is masked by considerable immigration of highly-skilled people, but that, too, isn’t sustainable.
    I am going on and on… bottomline, there is 1% truth in Ryans’s 99% elitist bullsh!t, and the statement that having kids is bad for anyone (overpopulation, blablabla) is very shortsighted as well.

  77. Emily says:

    I used to want children. I had 5 year plan, that would put me at 28 and hopefully financially stable, but for the past few months I have not seen children in my f uture at all. I really do not like children, to me they are anoying and bratty, but I have heard that you will love your own no matter what. I am going to wait until I really do want kids which I have heard happens when you hit 30. We shall see, but living the “good” life to me equales having no kids and being able to do whatever you want.

  78. Michelle says:

    THANK YOU for a respectful, well-balanced post. As a childfree person I’m much more used to parents waving their arms in my face while yelling OMG YU MUST HAVE ZE BAYBEEEZ!

  79. BigRed says:

    This really is one of those binary situations–well,unless you’re Britney Spears–you either have them and travel that path, or you don’t have them, and travel a different path.

    Timing is frequently mentioned, and it really is a non-analytical solution. It’s more like an operations research problem (or multiple equations in multiple unknowns–sorry, I have a kid in Algebra II now, and have had to revisit the subject :)

    We never discovered a magic “right time” to have kids–they were both born when we were grad students, before we had “real” careers, and it was stressful. The stress was more about lack of money than lack of time (we were both doing research and writing so we didn’t have teaching or coursework committments), but we rationalized it by deciding that (1) as new parents, we wouldn’t have had much $ anyway, and (2) because of the flexibility in time, we were both able to parent our kids almost equally. WE had nothing new, including the $15 crib we got at a yard sale, hand-me-downs, I breastfed each kid for a year (neither would take a bottle), and we used cloth diapers whenever possible. We made our own baby food and saved a ton that way too.

    When the kids were 2 and 3-1/2, I went to work part time, and then when they were 5 and 6 and in school full-time, we alternated our schedules but both worked full time. When I look back on this very busy time in our lives, I don’t regret it–we managed to have lots of time with the kids, not all of it “quality time”, to be sure; we got our PhD’s, and have good steady jobs with excellent benefits. It’s as close as we could have come, I think, to “having it all”, although that was never our intention.

    I also agree that having kids makes you a different person.

  80. natural says:

    how come they didn’t talk about having kids or not having kids BEFORE they got married? seems only fair

  81. Andy says:

    Great post! My wife and I chose to have two children, and she and I chose for her to be a stay-at-home mom. Absolute best decisions of our lives! But I agree with you, it is not for everyone- it is important not to let peer pressure push couples into having children. You should want to have children and make a choice to do so on your terms. Again, great post.

  82. LC says:

    Trent has talked about his everyday costs for a 1 and 2 year old child on this blog for a more “realistic” budget.

  83. Mel says:

    Trent, you forgot to play devil’s advocate here, and maybe because you and your wife are young and didn’t have any trouble conceiving your children (at least you haven’t mentioned it if you had) you’ve never had to think about it but if your friend and his wife encounter the same problems that I have when they do decide to try, he may regret the decision to wait. I would ask him if he can picture never having children of his own? If he can handle his wife’s disappointment/regret if they wait and then find out they waited too long? 3 years of trying and being disappointed take their toll and I know of people who’ve had to wait 5, 6, 7 years or more and some who never get to have children and trust me, you don’t want that type of stress. We will adopt if it turns out we can’t have our own but some people don’t see that as an option so there may be a good reason that he’s being ‘pressured’, men have much more time than women have in terms of being able to produce children, maybe he needs to think about the other half of the equation. After 35 a woman’s chances of complications from pregnancy, both for herself and the baby, go up exponentially. Luckily for me, the difficulties we’re having have made my husband and I a stronger unit, but it tears some people apart.

    I agree with you that you need to be ready, children are the most awesome responsibility in the world and not enough people give them the care they deserve, but he shouldn’t let fear rule his life or he may wind up with a lot of regrets.

  84. f1owerprincess says:

    @ Michelle – Exactly! People always tell me that I’ll change my mind. Why would I do that? I have thought long and hard about it and made my decision. Also, really, say “dirty diapers and 2 am feedings.” How many people wince?

    @ Tyler & natural – Thank you! I’m glad I’m not the only person who thought of this while reading. I always heard “Choose only a date who would make a good mate” when I was growing up. (I don’t follow this, but I also don’t have dreams of marriage/living together or children). Yes, not everyone is going to get married, but if you have marriage (or not) and children (or not) in mind, shouldn’t you find out if the other person has similar plans?

    Could someone please tell me what a “DINK” is? Thanks.

  85. Eric says:

    I thought AnKa was going to touch on this more with the comment about “high cost of trying to have a baby when it’s biologically too late.”

    The fact is that the human body wasn’t meant to have children past 40 (roughly) the incidence of birth defects, miscarriages, risk to mom all sky rocket starting in the mid-30s.

    It is great that people want to wait until they are “ready” but keep in mind your body isn’t going to wait. It will age and getting pregnant will become more difficult and more risky.

  86. Corinne says:

    Trent, this is truly one of the best posts you have ever done. Extremely thoughtful and compassionate. Your points are so important, and I think I will print this one out and keep it!

  87. Corinne says:

    Trent, this is truly one of the best posts you have ever done. Extremely thoughtful and compassionate. Your points are so important that I think I will print this one out and keep it!

  88. Katy Raymond says:

    My brother and his wife (now married 17 years with three kids) broke off their engagement for about a year because of this precise issue. He wanted kids; she didn’t. He knew that as much as he loved her, he could not marry her if she did not want children. They obviously worked it out, and they are both fantastic parents.

  89. reulte says:

    Your friend is right to get an outside and knowledgeable view on children . . . however, he has to live with his wife.

    You left out some pertinent information. How old is your friend? How long has he been married? How old is his wife? Are there reasons the parents want to have grandkids now?

    He needs to discuss this with his wife and he must discuss it with her on a regular schedule until they are in complete agreement and accord. Perhaps he can say that once a month they will sit down and discuss it – pros and cons, ready or not – honestly and non-defensively (without either set of parents) for at least 2 hours if they can let it be for the remainder of the month. If they entered the marriage with such different expectations – he with the intention of never having children and she already had their names and schools picked out, this marriage is headed for an affair, a divorce or a little “accident” and he’ll be lucky if it’s the latter.

    If he eventually plans to have children, then he will have to communicate that this is only waiting – for a year or two – and he will have to make the adjustments to prepare for fatherhood. You mention that he is “torn over this decision”, but you don’t tell why he is torn. Is it just the financial burden of having children? Or does he lead a double life with a red-headed floozy across town? Is he in the National Guard and possibly up for Iraq? Does he have some genetic disease he is concerned about passing on to his children. Is he angry that his parents never gave him the spoiling they already talk about giving his children. He needs to figure out why he is torn and work on that reason.

    On they other hand, he might turn the tables around and ask his wife why she wants children NOW. He might ask her if she plans to work or be a SAHM, what kind of day care would they be looking out. He might find out she’s just as torn as him and only doing this because her parents expect it or to beat her sister from having the first grandkid . . .

  90. Lauren says:

    “I’ve seen that $250K per child figure quoted before, and while there is no doubt that children are expensive, I question it. I’ve read that it includes the cost differential to move up to a larger house, for example,”

    EXACTLY right Mary!!! INf act, according to this chart, http://moneycentral.msn.com/content/collegeandfamily/raisekids/p37245.asp

    100k of the quarter million figure is from housing.

    But I wonder… if you factor in the astronomical rate if interest on money invested in housing in the past 3 decades, buying a larger house because of children may have actually caused some people to yield a NET PROFIT or at least break even :)

  91. Michael says:

    DINKs are “Double Income, No Kids” couples.

  92. Laura says:

    Thanks for the post Trent. My husband and I are both on the same page: no plans on having kids. It’s a big responsibility and right now in our lives we’d rather focus on enjoying the time we have as a couple. If that changes, then that would be a serious series of talks. Never say never, but at this point, we’d rather not have kids.

  93. Mel says:

    great comments ‘reulte’, and great advice! you did a much better job than I did and said what I was trying to say :) thanks.

  94. laura k says:

    I am single, no kids, and no desire to have any; however, I have gone through two short periods of my life (a couple months each), where my body wanted to be pregnant. Luckily my head said, “Whoa! The pregnancy thing may be great and all, but what about afterwards?” One of those times, I started having some talks with a friend of mine, a single male who has tried on and off to adopt, about being a surrogate mom for him. One reason I decided against it is that, when it came down to it, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to give up the baby, but I knew I didn’t want to keep it either.

    I am just not a “kid person.” In fact, I’m not much of an “other people” person either. I am recharged when I spend time alone; being with others drains me. Even the thought of having to see another person when I wake up in the morning, even someone I care deeply about, makes me want to pretend like I’m still sleeping! Call it selfishness, call it fear of intimacy – it could be either or both. Regardless, I know I don’t want to be a mother. I could certainly do it if I had to, but I know that any resentment I felt about my situation would be, as others have said, readily apparent. Maybe the resentment would all disappear when I held the baby in my arms, but I am not willing to sacrifice another human being’s life on a “maybe.”

  95. Serena says:

    I think having children is a personal decision for the couple, period. It’s not for anyone else to say if that couple has enough money or the right skills or anything else.

    As far as the various comments about how awful it is to have children if you can’t really afford them or to have them and discover you didn’t really want them, I agree that would be very hard on the child and the parents. And, it’s a point worth considering before getting pregnant. But, that seems to suggest the world would be better off had those kids never been born….?? My parents couldn’t afford us but I’m very glad to be here, thank you very much. There are a lot of great men and women who were born into poverty or were raised by single parents because one ran off and managed to overcome the circumstances of their birth. Maybe they became what they were BECAUSE of the poverty, lack of good parents, lack of opportunities, etc. I don’t believe that the financial circumstances of your childhood or who your parents are determines the eventual “worth” of that child anymore than having financial stability and a great marriage and access to private education for your kids means that you will raise up a worthy member of society. There are so many other pressures that make a person what and who they are than how much money your parents had.

  96. Jeremy says:

    I’m 34 with 4 boys. ages 10-1. Some real-world budget numbers:

    Groceries: I figure ~$5/person/day, so it comes out to roughly $900/month. We eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, prepare almost everything at home.

    We budget about $100/month for clothing/shoes/etc. Boys are hard on school pants :) If we required them to wear the latest greatest fashions with no patches on the knees, it would be a lot more. And thank goodness for school uniforms.

    We pay $135/month for 3-days-per-week preschool. The older kids attend a charter school funded through the district, so we don’t pay extra for that. I’m all for voucher programs and such, more of a free-market approach to education.

    My wife is a SAHM, so no additional childcare expenses.

    Between music lessons, sports and such, it’s probably about $300/month. Other ‘entertainment’ is another $100/month, if I consider things like skiing, golfing, vacations.

    Medical insurance and other expenses ~$200/month. We drive a paid-for car and mini-van, with insureance + gas + service ~$200/month.

    Allowance and long-term savings for the kids ~$50/month. We aren’t currently funding college savings because our focus is paying our mortgage off as soon as possible (the only debt).

    So with all those, I’ll estimate our budget at about ~$500/month per child — a very rough exstimate, but perhaps it’s double that (lots of things will be more expensive as they get older). $1000/month * 12 * 20 = $240,000. The $250k number is NOT very unrealistic, I think.

    Now a few other comments. On the one hand, our desire to have kids is not a biological drive, it is a spiritual yearning born from our heritage as children of God. It’s part of our divine heritage. Living in families and having children is a fundamental make-up of our beings.

    Of course, there are different answers for different people, and timing as well. There are other ways to serve people and overcome our selfishness and base characteristics. But the family environment really is ideally suited to helping us all achieve our potential.

    On the other hand, kids are a big strain on finances, time, and relationships. We had our first after two years of marriage. I often wish I made more time to build that relationship with my wife. It’s hard to find time and energy for each other now. I can totally understand why many couples find there is little to keep them together when the kids are grown and gone.

    One last observation: I know I will be a parent forever, but I’m realizing now just how short the time is that we will have our kids at home — our oldest is 10 already, half-way to being gone — hopefully for good :) There has to be more in our lives beyond our kids.

  97. KellyKelly says:

    Hey Laura,
    If you haven’t heard of the term “highly sensitive person,” (HSP) you may want to Google it. Sounds like you have a nervous system that gets overstimulated quickly. (This can be true for both introverts and extraverts; my mom is an HSP.)

    Your post is funny to me. I sometimes have dreams that I am pregnant. The main feeling I have in the dream is happiness — because I will be giving a healthy, (hopefully) smart baby to some adoptive couple.

  98. Eric says:

    Jeremy,

    I appreciate your hard work but could you break it down a bit more clearly? I am just trying to play with the numbers to see if I understand what you are saying and I am not sure if I need to be dividing some of these numbers by 4 or if that is per child

    For example is the $100 per month for cloths for *each child* or for all? Same with the $300 for music lessons, sports etc. Same with medical expenses, and a few other categories.

    Thanks for the thoughtful post.

  99. Jeremy says:

    @Eric — most of those numbers were total for the family per month. Added together it was ~$1985/month, I rounded to $2000 then divided by 4 –> about $500/month per child. Then doubled to $1000 month.

    It is a very rough estimate, for a fairly middle-to-upper-middle-class lifestyle. I suppose it could be high by a factor of 2.

  100. Lou says:

    Wow, Trent.

    I’ve read your blog faithfully for many months now, and have really enjoyed it.

    However, I can no longer read it. Your blantant disregard for children is overwhelming. In the past, I’ve been able to overlook it at times, but this takes the cake. What is even more disturbing to me is that most of your readership shares the same views and ideals.

    Honestly, it makes me sad. Sad that our country believes that children are burdens. The “children suck it” comment…oh you’ve got to be kidding me.

    Thank you for the frugal mindsight and ideas you’ve provided. I’ll be moving on now to an area where children are seen as people and not something looked upon in disdain.

    -Lou

  101. Tyler says:

    DINK – Dual Income No Kids

    @ Lou, I’m not going to defend Trent because he has said nothing about what you wrote. On the contrary, he indicates and writes about how much he loves his children. Your comment just shows how ignorant and unopenminded you are. I say you do leave because others reading this don’t want to see you around with such stupid comments.

  102. Ari says:

    Trent,

    Very well written article of your thought process. However, I do not agree with your opinion.

    Think about it, how many people do you know that become poor or bankrupt because of their having children?

    Those who are very poor or bankrupt and have many children, were already in that situation before they have children.

    I do not know any.

    On the other hand, I know many that their lives turned to the better financially and more, because they have children.

    Also, I am sure you are already know the ‘decision’ to have (biological) children is not always depending on the couples, several post mentioned this too.

    I want to close with a comment that I really enjoy your blog. Write a book about your journey and suggestions, and self publish. You’ll do very well.

    Ari.

  103. Mel says:

    Trent sounds like a great parent! I personally disagree with a few of his views (although not too many) but to say he doesn’t think of children as people is ludicrous, and a little stupid. Lou, I don’t think Trent will miss your reader-ship, I know the rest of us won’t miss your comments if this one is any indication. I think your problem is lack of reading comprehension, it’s a basic high school skill, brush up!

  104. Andrea says:

    How is the term CF defensive? As a person who has chosen to not have children, the more proactive term is child*free*, as child*less* indicates that I’m missing something.

    Whether you have kids or not, each decision is equally as selfish. We want what we want. Neither decision is better or worse than the other. Certain types of parents can go on all they want about how selfless they are, but I would ask, what are your reasons for wanting kids? To keep your DNA alive? To have someone to look after you when you’re older? To have somone to love? And for CF people… I know that my reasons for not wanting kids are selfish (I want to travel, I like having time for myself and my own interests, I love my current lifestyle)but what is so wrong about that? There isn’t a parent alive that didn’t have kids for their OWN reasons, which technically means they too are selfish. And what, pray tell, is so wrong about living your own life exactly the way you choose to?

    Great discussion!

  105. Roberta says:

    @ Lou, Trent loves his children and children in general. I applaud him for advising his friend to wait and make sure he is ready for kids. Even people who adore their children if honest will admit that they add a financial “burden”.
    @ Tyler, Thank you!!! Well said.

  106. CheapGirl says:

    It’s interesting how everyone is so worried and concerned over the financial burden of kids when Trent began this blog about a year ago after a total near financial meltdown and encouraged by the approaching birth of his son. Now Trent has 2 kids, not just 1, and his financial world is IMPROVING, not dreadfully imploding. Why?? Because he has made conscious choices that are responsible, and he actually has a plan to get out of the financial mess he himself created.

    I think this whole blog is living proof that love for your kids and family will put you in the right mind set to do what it takes to provide for them if you’re that kind of loving person. Does this mean everyone should have kids? No. If you want em, have em. If you don’t, carefully consider the risk of changing your mind in old age and analyze it further the older you get.

    If you only love yourself and are not willing to even control your own spending to get yourself out of debt and secure a retirement, spare the rest of us by not bringing potentially unhappy, resentful people into the world.

  107. Jenyfer says:

    Lou—–Dude

    The whole point of these comments is to encourage lucid, intelligent discussion on various subjects. As each of us varies in life history, personality, income, outlook, etc—-so will each comment be different. You never know what you will stumble on that could literally change your life.
    Should you choose to surround yourself only with things that reinforce your own opinions, you will lead a very closed and un-empathetic (is that a word?) life–
    Take off your blinders and be freed!!

  108. KellyKelly says:

    Ari,

    First of all, you need to define what you mean by “poor.” My friend has one child. She is a single mother with a house and car.

    To the casual observer, she would not seem “poor.” Yet she owes money to pretty much everyone (including me), has no savings, and stresses out constantly about money.

    I come from a poor family. If you did not grow up that way you have no clue how bad it usually is. Yes, there are exceptional people who have the emotional or intellectual resilience to rise above it. My parents and most of my siblings did not. I have found that most of the people who think poverty is not so bad were never really living in it, meaning living on the financial edge with no cushion to fall back on (including money from parents when needed).

    As for bankruptcy, “Children are a big risk factor for insolvency: married couples with children and single mothers are two and three times more likely to go bankrupt, respectively, than their childless counterparts.

    Divorced mothers face an additional risk, because they often lose health coverage linked to their ex-husbands’ jobs.”

    That is from an online article called “Bankruptcy “Reform” by Linda Ostreicher.

    That does not mean “don’t have kids.” That means use your head, acknowledge the costs, and MANAGE your household to protect the safety/security of those who depend on you. It’s the ultimate management position.

  109. one of nine says:

    Wow, this is a amazing discussion.

    Trent, I would like to point out that although you stress that your children are the high point of your life, you spend way too much time offering a completely opposite view. Therefore, you do indeed seem to contradict yourself in major ways.

    Many people don’t learn what immature, self-centered attention seekers they are until they have children (someone else referred to this in a previous post). Having children wakes you up (rather abruptly, at times) to the fact that the world does not revolve around YOU. In our society, I feel this is a message that is vitally needed.

    So you want to pull up the roots at any time and travel the world. Go for it. So you don’t want to be woken up at 2am with feedings and poopy diapers. I respect that. So you want to maintain your social life without obligation to a squirming little mass of humanity. Go, have fun with your friends.

    If it does indeed take $250,000 to raise a child, I shouldn’t be here– I should be in an orphanage or foster home or homeless shelter. My father never made more than $40,000 a year and he raised nine children, mostly due to my mother’s fabulous frugality. True, we didn’t have a lot. But we had one another and we had fun.We didn’t have iPods or Wii’s or even Atari, but we climbed trees and caught crayfish and cut down our own Christmas tree in the woods. How can you put a price on those treasures??? You can’t.

    Let your kids go without. Don’t buy everything (or anything) brand-new. Teach them about college scholarships and loans. Perhaps the $250,000 theory of raising children is why we have so many spoiled, selfish kids and adults in the world today.

    There’s my theory. Bash me for it if you want. All I know is that when the condom broke I was a full-time student bartending at night. I became a private nanny so I could continue studying and take my baby with me to work. My two year old son is absolute greatest joy of my life, and if I do end up spending a quarter of a million dollars on him it will be the greatest investment I could ever dream of making.

  110. Erin says:

    I’m not clear on something from your post. Is your friend not sure that he wants to have kids at all – ever? Or is he just not sure that he is ready to have kids right now?

    If he is not sure that he wants them at all, then I agree totally with your advice to him to stick to his guns. He also owes it to his wife to let her know this, because she needs to be aware that is she really wants kids they may have a serious problem.

    But if he knows he definitely wants kid, but is just not sure if he’s ready or can afford them now, I don’t necessarily agree with your advice. You may never fully feel totally “ready” (emotionally or financially), but if you’re reasonably secure in your marriage and you’re not in truly dire financial straits there comes a time where you just need to bite the bullet and get started! Especially keeping in mind that women have biological timeframe limits on child-bearing. Men tend not to have the biological pull that women often have about having a child, so they have a tendency to think they have plenty of time and that is not always the case.

  111. QuiteLight says:

    The main reason not to have a child if you’re not committed to the idea; the child deserves better.

    It’s next to impossible to be a good parent if you resent the child and/or your spouse, and the child deserves parents that love & cherish it.

    Thanks for the thoughtful post: I feel the same way. I have a step-daughter we have partial custody of, and have had the challenges of raising a child I did not choose to have. It has been very difficult at times, but after 11 years, I have also begun (!) to experience some of the rewards to discussed. But it’s been a long haul for me to get here.

  112. Lisa says:

    I’m going to print and laminate this so I can carry it with me every day and shove it in the faces of whoever might be rude enough to impolitely demand why I don’t wish to have children or tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about and I’m too young to decide.

    This absolutely hits the nail on the head of how I feel about having a child and I’m glad that someone out there can understand the costs, financial and otherwise, of having children, and why someone might balk at them. I’m not saying that my mind will absolutely, positively never change, but at this point in time I don’t see myself “unselfish” enough to have children before I’m just too old to do it. I have plans for my life, the majority of which involve a great deal of post-collegiate study or travel – both of which are expensive, time consuming, and not particularly child-oriented, and all of which I have to say I would much rather use that $250,000 of estimated child costs for. :o)

    That said, children are a wonderful blessing… just not one that I see fitting into my life at any point, and not one that I feel myself “missing.” I understand why people would want children – so I only ask that they try to understand or at least respect that I choose not to have any.

    Also, you can’t leave kids at the doggy daycare when you go on vacation. And dogs never question you! :D

  113. Michelle says:

    I don’t know about this 250K number either. I have two kids, a 2 1/2 year old and a 10 month old and I have spent maybe $5000 on BOTH of them since the first one was born, including food. With no government assistance. We shop at garage sales and the Goodwill for all of our clothes, and other things that we need. I breastfed both of them and use cloth diapers. Most of the “costs” are optional, you’re kids don’t need music lessons, or brand new stuff. If you can give them that, it’s great but they don’t NEED it. It’s about distinguishing needs and wants. You need food, you don’t need a laptop.

    Now the emotional commitment, is high. Having kids when you aren’t emotionally ready isn’t good. I was an “accident” and I knew it my entire life. I knew that my parents didn’t want to have kids and would have prefered if I were never born. They went out all the time and I got left alone from about the age of 8. They both worked and I had to take care of myself. It’s hard on a kid. So I agree with Trent, if you don’t think that you want a kid, then don’t have one. I’m not sorry I was born, but I could have saved a lot of therapy money had I been born to parents who wanted me.

  114. partgypsy says:

    I disagree with a number of posters. Other than adopting a child, to me having children is more a selfish act than a selfless one. Some of most caring compassionate yes selfless people I know are people who have willing decided NOT to have children, or have adopted instead of having their own.
    Yes, you do sacrifice time, energy, love, money, etc. But it is to satisfy both the mating and the reproduction drive, and the benefit of having ones genes spread around. Deep down in our primitive genes, reproduction = success. It’s instinctual. All that affection from the kids, the pride of seeing them grow and mature is more gravy.
    Again this would all be academic if there were only a million people on this planet but at 7 billion, each additional person does have an effect on the rest of humanity, on recources, ecosystems, and every other species on this planet. Somehow this is an ugly secret that no one wants to discuss.
    I have had 2 children and I love them dearly, and am trying to raise them with a lighter impact on this earth. But I have never fooled myself into thinking what I was doing a selfless act, or Gods will. I did it despite myself, because I wanted to.

  115. db says:

    I have to say that I’m with Lou above. I actually disagree with many of Trent’s posts, but can live and live about them. However, this one really takes the cake and I don’t think I will keep visiting this blog.

    What I see underlying the post and especially a lot of the comments is a societally sanctioned diminishment of the value and regard placed on children. In this culture, we simply do not value our children enough, nor do we value parenthood enough. This is a significant problem.

  116. partgypsy says:

    Lou, Db, Please do not let my views, or the views of other posters influence your decision to read or not read Trent’s blog.

    More to the point, how is Trent posting about the realities and responsibilities of having children diminishing the value of children, or possibly offensive at all?

  117. Tyler says:

    DB, we do not value MARRIAGE enough. Let’s fix the marriage problem and all the children in this world or entering it will come out ok. Because of the breakdown of marriage in this sexed-up society, kids turn out they way they are – troubled, lost, no faith, no motivation, etc. People my age (25) see this and think to ourselves “well if that is the way kids are, I am not having them.” Forget putting a value on children. Put the value in marriage and God and the children will align perfectly with your life plans. God first, then spouse, then children. People forget this and that is why we see the problems we see today.

  118. Madd Hatter says:

    You and Lou go back to keeping your heads in the sand then db, your ilk sure have taken this world to a great place hasn’t it?
    partgypsy: here-here.

    I find most everything to be said has been. To echo a sentiment already expressed: Anyone who truly believes having children is not a selfish act, tell me: Why don’t you all adopt? After all, this is the utilitarian “win-win”. Chances are your honest answer belies the selfishness at the root.

  119. Sandra says:

    Well, that’s just a matter of perception now, isn’t it? From my perspective as a married woman with no kids it feels very much like our culture is slanted towards families and children. There are a lot of accomodations, financially, governmentally (not a word for sure) and socially, that are made for children and their parents. I often feel like those same accomodations are not made for childless (I dare not say child-free) people.

    Overall I have found the comments on this subject to be remarkably open-minded. Whatever your choices in life, may they be good ones. So who are you to come in here preaching about how nobody values parenthood or children enough? Perhaps by abstaining from having children – for WHATEVER reason, financial or otherwise – people are showing their value for children and parenthood by not doing it if they aren’t ready.

  120. sprezzatura says:

    I frequently hear from parents telling me … that it’s totally different once you hold your baby in your arms.

    I’ve heard this too, but I refuse to bet my life on the possibility that having a child will somehow magically cause me to start wanting to be a parent.

  121. nebula61 says:

    I’m glad to see so many people thinking so rationally about having or not having children.
    I’ve been happily married for 25 years now, child-free and never regretted it. I realized in my teens that having children was a choice, not an obligation, and what a relief that was! So it really wasn’t a decision, it was more of an inclination. Luckily I found a wonderful man who agreed with me. But those of you who are considering having children, please please think whether your relationship is strong enough to handle it. I’ve lost count of the marriages I know who have a child and divorce a couple of years later. I feel so sad for the children.

  122. Mel says:

    What the hell is wrong with people’s reading comprehension?? Every other post Trent has written has been about his choice to be a parent first and foremost and to always spend quality time with his children and about the joy that being a parent has brought him. He’s also made every decision in his life since the day his first child was born with the welfare and happiness of his family as the main consideration. Oh, and Trent makes it a point not to censor the comments on his site as other writers do so that there can be free discussion. Our views are not Trent’s and vice versa.

    To my fellow posters who make the effort to comment thoughtfully and proof read what you write, I thank you. This is one of the few online communities where I’ve found thoughtful comments that are actually legible. I enjoy reading the comments almost as much as Trent’s posts – well, except those written by people who obviously didn’t bother to read the posts first, of course – whether you agree with me, or not, it’s always enlightening.

  123. Olive says:

    Wow,what a hot topic. A few points from me

    1. The 250k figure is for people making 100k+/yr. In the Bay area this is a common income and we know several people who send their kids to private school at 10k+ /yr and this with multiple kids. So these people will spend about 150k+ per kid on schooling alone forget housing/college etc. It is not needed of course to spend that much.

    2. Having kids should be a personal decision and no side can win by denouncing the other. What matter is the kind of parenting — and money is no excuse. Look at all movie stars with drug/alcohol addictions and in bad marriages.

    3. If and when I decide to have kids I know the first few yrs will be hard. The best part is to have that kid grow up to be a person anyone can be proud of.

  124. KoryO says:

    Actually, in some respects, it’s possible that Trent may have made his friend more likely to have a kid by being sort of a devil’s advocate, if you will.

    If it is all because of nerves, he might have been relieved to hear someone say it’s ok not to have a kid or it’s ok to wait a bit. That may have been all he needed to get the confidence to go through with it someday. Didn’t any of you ever have something that you wanted, but were afraid to do, especially when you are being pressured?

    Please don’t take this to mean that you can change someone’s mind if they are absolutely, positively against having kids. Look, it’s not like the friend in question had scheduled a vasectomy, or had stated that he never ever wanted kids. That’s a whole ‘nother ball of wax.

    I always figured if someone states categorically that they don’t want kids….believe them. I dropped out of a couple promising relationships when the gentleman in question said he never wanted kids. I wasn’t going to waste my time convincing him when there are plenty of other guys who would want to be a father.

  125. A Childfree Woman says:

    This was a really good article. Since this is a column about money I’ll emphasize again the part about them being expensive. Even if you want children, if you can’t provide a decent life for them, you should not have them.

  126. Heather says:

    I saw the title and knew you’d be walking into a Dirty Diaper of a topic. My advice: Be child-rich. Have them in your 20’s or early 30’s. There is never a good or convenient time. It is a normal human experience to have children. Agree with your spouse on the issue. Go forth and multiply!

  127. tubaman-z says:

    To those who are choosing to remain non-parents, what do you think about your own parents choice?

  128. KellyKelly says:

    Tubaman-z,

    My mother has a great temperament for parenting — very consistent, very routine-oriented, very much a homebody. All the things I am, by nature, not.

    I knew this early. When I was 5 years old I told her I would not be a mother when I grew up. That was 30+ years ago.

    I think my parents should have stopped at 2 kids. They had many more than two, however. They did not “do the math,” and my siblings were (and are) mostly VERY unhappy, anxious and barely existing. Money stress can be very toxic. It’s not just about not having “new toys.” Constant anxiety and worry and money fights, no money for basic medical care, etc. Some people can be poor and happy, but that was not our experience. I was so thrilled to move out on my own.

    By the way, I was fourth born, so yes, I think they should NOT have had me. My soul either would have gone to some other body, or none at all. Either way, I believe I would not know the difference.

    Nobody seems to worry much about that 10th or 13th child of theirs that they choose not to have. That’s what I would have been, the “un.”

  129. mike says:

    Love this article!! And the comments of others here too. I am a “childfree”, or one who decided awhile ago that I don’t want children. Trent’s article is well balanced. I have been telling friends not to disparage responsible parents who have given the matter serious thought, and are in tune with their feelings. My feeling is those who truely want to be parents will be a lot better at it than those who have not had that conversation with themselves or their loved ones.

    Too often I see people trying to find a significant other BEFORE they have even evaluated whether they want children. I was once one of those. Fence sitters, don’t let this be the elephant in the living room. Have that conversation…

  130. JimH says:

    @Michael and all others who feel that they must wait until they are financially ready to have children.

    As other posters have pointed out, there is often a difference between actually being financially able to support a family, and *feeling* that you are able to support your family in the style to which you feel they are entitled.

    Ultimately, if you have kids, you will find that what they want MOST of all is not the latest pair of sneakers, not an iPod, not even a paid-for college education – it’s you. That’s it. The more time you can give to your children, the happier they will be. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you have to spend long hours at work so as to earn more money so as to buy a bigger, better house for your family. What matters most to them is spending time doing things with you.

  131. tirzah says:

    “Parenthood is a crash course in selflessness.
    Grow up and learn that there is more to life than your own personal wants and needs.”

    Um…so I should bring a child into the world to teach MYSELF how to be unselfish?? Something strikes me as really cockeyed about that concept. “I want to be unselfish, therefore YOU have to live with me while you’re totally at my mercy in order that I can learn this.” Eesh. Having a kid for that reason sounds like a bad idea to me.

  132. BigRed says:

    It’s so interesting to see the responses on this thread–folks are so defensive about their positions (CF vs with kids). This is perfectly analogous to the SAHM vs working mom argument that’s been ongoing for 20 years or so. I’m sorry to see that no lessons have been learned from that pretty nasty debate–folks, everyone makes choices and lives with the ramifications of those decisions, and it’s not really anyone else’s business. I admire Trent’s objectivity in bringing up the costs and sparking a debate about the real impact of having and raising kids. It is something that people should consider when thinking about starting or increasing a family.

    Why do threads have to devolve into these sorts of attacks?

    Trent, keep up the good work.

  133. I’ve always found it perplexing that so many people will tell others “you have to have kids,”
    “what the heck are you waiting for,” etc. Why do they care?

    I think the important thing here is that it’s a huge decision and you shouldn’t just blindly do what everyone else is doing, but you should carefully consider what’s right for you. That seems pretty obvious, yet people still feel pressured to have kids.

  134. Sarah says:

    I am currently 7 months pregnant, and you know what? There are absolutely people who should not be parents. Admittedly, I am 24 years old. Most of my friends are adamant in the fact that they do not want children. And that’s FINE! It is a very personal decision that is not right for everyone and the point that Trent was trying to make is that there is more to having children than simply the financial cost. Some of my friends may change their minds at some point down the road, but if they don’t, they are more than happy to dote on our little girl. I am a firm believer that you shouldn’t have children just for the sake of having children or because society says that’s what you do at a certain time in your life. Kudos to Trent for coming out and saying it!

  135. Sandy says:

    This is a free country…everyone should do exactly as he or she wishes…
    For my DH and I, when we were in our 20s and travelling a whole bunch and eating out at nice restaurants, and planning vacations as soon as the last one was over…after about 5 years of that, I got kinda bored….one place started to look like another, and dinners out lost their appeal. We were 31 and I thought to myself…well, I’ve learned alot from al the places we’d been and things we’d done and I was squarely in the “I’ll never have kids” camp, but I honestly woke up one day and said to DH, I’d like to think about having kids now. We talked for awhile, and well…11 months later our first came along….what a wonderful learning curve for me! One can change ones’ mind if one wants, also.

  136. susan says:

    Wow — lots to say. I always tell my friends who are considering having kids there there is no logical reason to have kids. period. you cannot make a logical argument to support this huge change/responsibilitiy that you’ll have for the rest of your life.

    Yes there are a lot benefits and drawbacks but it’s not one size fits all in any way. You have to want it in your heart and not just because ‘everyone else is doing it’. Because when it’s you that has to get up in the night with a sick kid or have to cancel last minute because your babysitter doesn’t show — ‘everyone else’ is not going to back you up. It’s all on you.

    Re costs — yeah, it’s expensive but like anything you work it into your budget and you make due. They start out small and don’t need much in the beginning. You kind of grow into the whole thing. Like anythihng, it’s a process and a changing entity…

  137. SwingCheese says:

    Re: not valuing children enough in our society.

    The concept of “childhood” as something that should be a separate place from adulthood and a “child” as someone who should be considered anything other than a little adult is a relatively recent societal concept. It rose to popularity in the 19th century, I believe. And even then, it was only certain children, i.e., not the ones who were expendable as factory laborers.

    Have kids or don’t. Frankly, I don’t understand how it is the business of anyone but my husband and me, and whatever decision we make, there will be those who are for and against. There is no question that children are a huge commitment. It’s a questions of whether you wish to take on that commitment or not – simple as that. Either way, it is a choice that you are making, and as such, an outgrowth of your desires and beliefs, making it selfish. But people are inherently selfish anyway – how many people do you know who routinely do things that they do not find enjoyable?

  138. Lesley says:

    Hi —
    A little about costs.
    I have been thinking very hard, and can’t think of a real cost to my son (almost 3) besides diapers and wipes. I think $20/month for wipes, $40/month for diapers.
    All his clothes have been hand-me-downs or gifts this year, except 2 pairs of shorts $3.50/each when he lost weight and went down a size. Also Spider-man pajamas for $13.50 (impulse buy).
    There are no “airplane” vacations in our future, but maybe when he is older it will seem like a good idea.
    For food — I have made a switch toward beans, and making frozen soup. It is healthier, and simple to prepare.
    For daycare — when he was between 1 and 2, I did need about 8 hours/week sanity-saving childcare… now he is able to play at the park while I read, or amuse himself while I do something I like, for adequate amounts of time.
    We are a one-income family… I do know many people with financial problems… my advice: you don’t need a minivan for 2 kids unless you can REALLY afford it. It causes so much heartache, lots of bickering and Moms who can’t afford the smallest treat. I think no car payment is what keeps us ahead.

  139. Rachel says:

    There is a lot of pressure to have kids and it often hits when you least expect it. I was nearly accosted by a single mother at a Christmas party once when I said my husband and I didn’t want kids. It sometimes feels like it’s the worst from people who found out too late having kids could involve choice. No Kidding! is a fun support group where you can laugh off the “selfish” comments with other childless singles and couples: http://www.nokidding.net

  140. Carla says:

    “Choosing to be “childfree” (a rather defensive way to say it isn’t it?) is definately a viable way to live.”

    Paula, it only sounds defensive if you are.

  141. Carla says:

    “To those who are choosing to remain non-parents, what do you think about your own parents choice?”

    Questions like these–how would you like it if your parents had decided not to have you, or had chosen to abort, etc. etc.–always makes me laugh. It’s such a non-argument. Why don’t we sit around wondering how we’d feel if the earth had never been created? If we’d never evolved into humans?

  142. Kidfree Kaye says:

    I am currently writing a book called “Kidfree & Lovin’ It” for those who-either by choice or by circumstance-do not have kids. The points that you make in here are excellent, and I find it refreshing that a PARENT, instead of a childfree, has written this insightful article about the difficulties of being a parent.

    I would love to quote you in my book, to get a parent’s advise. Kudos to you for this well-balanced article! My web site is: http://www.kidfreeandlovinit.com

  143. I think it’s wonderful that someone with kids can be honest with others and show some of the pitfalls of parenthood.

    It’s truly a case of different strokes for different folks. Ya gotta do what’s right for YOU!

    Don’t let ANYONE tell you how to live your life, because the person who has to live with the consequences of the decision should be the one making the decision.

    I would never be presumptious enough to tell ANYONE to have or not to have children.

    Jerry Steinberg
    Founding Non-Father of NO KIDDING!
    The international social club for childless and childfree couples and singles
    http://www.nokidding.net; info@nokidding.net

  144. Angela says:

    Just wanted to share my quick opinion on the $$ issue. We are extremely frugal and I doubt our kids have cost very much in actual $$ but I gave up a $120,000 a year job to stay home and raise them. It’s been 7 years so far, and the loss of my income HAS cost us (in unrealized income) over $800,000 and that’s just in 7 years of raising them.

    When I go back into the work force, I won’t be able to command as much money up front and will be making much less than I would have if I had stayed in the work force. That has to count for something.

    Still, we thought it was worth it for me to stay home and give them the attention and time they needed.

    I agree with Trent’s position. Do not have children if you are not totally committed. Forget being ready, you’ll never really be “ready” but you do need to be committed and responsible.

    Of course, that’s not how it usually happens…. But that’s another issue.

  145. Bo says:

    People, we cannot see the future. We cannot plan for everything. Getting married and having kids is a choice with risk. Living and planning is no guarantee of peace. CS Lewis had it right when he said, “We choose not knowing.”

    At 30 I chose marriage. Shortly thereafter I chose kids. Both make life sweeter, fuller and more meaningful. Both require compromise, coordination and sacrifice. Both have a nice return on investment.

    Those with stress and misery “because of” family, might have stress and misery all on thier own.

  146. Rebecca says:

    “It’s so interesting to see the responses on this thread–folks are so defensive about their positions (CF vs with kids).”

    This is absolutely true. Seen it here and other places on and off the net. It is sad that people can’t just accept that they are free to do as they like.

    Parents, people can live happy and fulfilled lives without children. Don’t harass them about their choices. Do you really want to pressure someone into having children when they don’t want them? How sad!

    Childfree people, parents are not trying to pressure you to have kids when they have fun with their’s (yes, seriously overheard this argument when I was walking the dog the other day). There is no need to be snarky towards parents (I hate the generic term “breeders”, it is incredibly disrespectful) just because they made the choice to have children.

    Let’s all just be respectful of each other’s decisions, whatever they may be. :)

    For the record, I badly, badly want children. My husband and I are both constantly talking about having kids, we both have “baby fever”. Unfortunately, now is not a good time for us to start a family. Not when we are both in college. No, we have a few more years yet of burning with the fever before we can start having kids. Dang. :P

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