Your views on affording more children. - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 192 Old 08-19-2007, 10:16 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm trying to figure out what this statement means to me right now. We're currently expecting baby #2, just as planned. I don't know at this point if I want more than 2 children, but something I hear and read often is that people say that can't afford more children. In what way? We have a 3 bedroom house, 2 bedrooms for kids, someone bunks up so I don't think we need more space. Is it the basics people can't afford, extra health and food costs? Those seem like something we could handle IF we decided on more kids.

Is it that people feel public schools aren't good and need to send their little ones to private schools? Are parents worried about paying for college? My parents were not able to help me through college but I'm fine with paying off my own student loans, so I don't feel like that's an issue for me, I'm glad they had me even though they didn't have a lot of money.

Here's what I'm really saying, I feel like middle and upper middle class parents have a certain expectation for what they need to provide for their children, and I can't figure out quite yet where I come down on this issue. It seems like if I give my kids love, warmth, food, clothes, make sure they go to school (public for us), then am I really limited by whether or not 20 years down the road i can pay for them to go to college or help them buy a house? Is the tendency to materialize our lives the real issue? I'm not sure how well I'm expressing myself, I do come down on the side of more kids, less stuff, but any thoughts?
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#2 of 192 Old 08-19-2007, 10:35 AM
 
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Here's what I'm really saying, I feel like middle and upper middle class parents have a certain expectation for what they need to provide for their children, and I can't figure out quite yet where I come down on this issue. It seems like if I give my kids love, warmth, food, clothes, make sure they go to school (public for us), then am I really limited by whether or not 20 years down the road i can pay for them to go to college or help them buy a house? Is the tendency to materialize our lives the real issue? I'm not sure how well I'm expressing myself, I do come down on the side of more kids, less stuff, but any thoughts?
Yeah, I get it.

I see parents who have MUCH more than we do say they can't afford more children and it boggles my mind. I can understand why parents feel they need to be able to give their children the best, and send them to great colleges, but I see parents who say they want more children, but can't afford them living in McMansions, driving Lexus SUVs etc... I think there is a balance that has to be found between the lifestyle you want and the children you want. For us, we figure as long as our children have food in their bellies, clothes on their backs and roofs over their head they are good to go. Nothing more is needed besides lots of love.

I DO know some families who truly cannot afford more children. They are living paycheck to paycheck and more children may send them over the edge. There is a difference between having to choose between a decent place to live and clothes vs having to shop at sears over Nordstroms.
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#3 of 192 Old 08-19-2007, 10:35 AM
 
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For us, it comes down to spending 4k per child for grades 1 through 8. The public schools are not options here (our local school for instance is only 2 years old but so over crowded it's ridiculous, plus the school day is way too long (9am to 4pm)) We own a 3 bedroom house and have no problem having the kids share. We also will only pay for college if we have the extra money, which I don't really see happening at this point. Dh paid for his own college and we managed to do it without loans and only one income (dh's, I was too ill to work.) We even had a baby in his last year!

But because of the cost of Catholic school, we'll probably only have 3.

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#4 of 192 Old 08-19-2007, 10:38 AM
 
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I think my frustration with this statement comes from people who want more children, but yet talk about having to decide whether to pay the gas bill or the water bill this month.

For me, affording kids means you have enough money to pay the bills each month, ensure they have good food and warm clothes, and health care. The college thing I'm torn on, because a lot of parents seem to feel it's not their responsibility, but DH and I have already saved a substantial amoutn for DS's college fund because we want to give him that.

I understand that things happen and it's not always feasible to wait for some families, but at the same time, my frustration is with the families who are obviously struggling, yet plan for more kids because "Babies are cheap!".

Kids don't need designer clothes, their own rooms pimped out with the biggest and best toys, or private schools and tons of sports. But, they do need stability and a reliable home. I have lots of friends who cosleep and homeschool, but they wouldn't have another baby if they were having problems paying the bills.
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#5 of 192 Old 08-19-2007, 10:40 AM
 
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I keep saying I would have kid #2 tomorrow if I could figure out a way to make it financially feasible. At 640/month for daycare, I'm still trying to figure out ways to cover all the rest of the crap in life (mortgage, etc). If I put another kiddo in daycare (b/c I'm a single mom and simply have to go to work) it would be 1280. It's just way too much for me to spend right now. (now if I could figure out a way to do psych work with a kiddo with me.......)
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#6 of 192 Old 08-19-2007, 10:59 AM
 
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Originally Posted by SquishyKitty View Post
I think my frustration with this statement comes from people who want more children, but yet talk about having to decide whether to pay the gas bill or the water bill this month.

For me, affording kids means you have enough money to pay the bills each month, ensure they have good food and warm clothes, and health care. The college thing I'm torn on, because a lot of parents seem to feel it's not their responsibility, but DH and I have already saved a substantial amoutn for DS's college fund because we want to give him that.

I understand that things happen and it's not always feasible to wait for some families, but at the same time, my frustration is with the families who are obviously struggling, yet plan for more kids because "Babies are cheap!".

Kids don't need designer clothes, their own rooms pimped out with the biggest and best toys, or private schools and tons of sports. But, they do need stability and a reliable home. I have lots of friends who cosleep and homeschool, but they wouldn't have another baby if they were having problems paying the bills.

Very well said.


For us waiting to "afford" it meant waiting until we could afford for me to stay home. And since I carried our health insurance, waiting to afford private health insurance, with maternity!
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#7 of 192 Old 08-19-2007, 10:59 AM
 
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well, for me it's that we're not middle or upper class... we're poor. And we cannot afford to LIVE let alone have another child... and I imagine it's that way for a lot of people.
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#8 of 192 Old 08-19-2007, 12:04 PM
 
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Our #3 was very unplanned and it's putting us in a tight spot but we can afford it with adjusting. Heck if we were having problems I wouldn't have the internet or cable (we want to get rid of cable anyway but need it for cable internet with this company. ). It all comes down to needs vs wants.

It kind of goes with the debate on if you are on WIC or welfare then choose to have another baby. If you can't afford to feed the family you have now don't add to it.

But I agree with you, I think people these days focus on more materalistic things rather then what is really needed. My kids have a roof over their heads, food in their bellies, decent clothes on their backs and great health care thanks to the US Army. That's all they need, the rest can wait until we have extra.
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#9 of 192 Old 08-19-2007, 12:14 PM
 
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One thing I learned from how my parents raised me was that when it comes to what your kids need, you find a way to afford it.

With that mindset, I really don't think that I could say that we "can't" afford another. I think that we would use handmedowns, share rooms, etc, to afford it.

I think most families would do just that, make it work.
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#10 of 192 Old 08-19-2007, 12:17 PM
 
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We're expecting #2 also (imminently!) and we've decided that 2 is enough. We live within our means now and have hopes of providing enrichment for our children especially in the form of music lessons and travel. We know that we have the time, energy, and finances to be great parents to two children but more than that would stretch us in a lot of ways. If I weren't a SAHM, even 2 would be an impossibility. The day care costs alone would wipe us out.
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#11 of 192 Old 08-19-2007, 12:19 PM
 
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I guess I'm one of the people who frustrates you. We have had just one and we've been debating long and hard about whether we can "afford" another one. And we don't literally mean afford - we knew we could afford another child in that he/she would never be hungry or not have something to wear - that kind of thing. When we say that we mean whether we can afford to buy $60 shoes for two kids instead of one, and whether we'll be able to afford the expensive Montessori preschool for another kid, airfare for four instead of three when we travel, that kind of thing. We have decided to have another child, but we want our lifestyle to stay the same, and we want to be able to give the next one what the first one has had.

I don't see why it's wrong to take that kind of thing into consideration. I certainly don't expect other people to use my criteria when choosing how many children to have. It's just about us and our family.
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#12 of 192 Old 08-19-2007, 12:38 PM
 
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I guess I'm one of the people who frustrates you... We have decided to have another child, but we want our lifestyle to stay the same, and we want to be able to give the next one what the first one has had.

I don't see why it's wrong to take that kind of thing into consideration. I certainly don't expect other people to use my criteria when choosing how many children to have. It's just about us and our family.
See, I don't find what you're saying frustrating at all, because you make it clear you "don't expect other people to use (your) criteria when choosing how many children to have." I'm not frustrated when people are simply saying THEY can't afford more children, but I do get frustrated when people apply their own criteria to others.

I don't know how to put two different quotes in the same post, so I'll come back with examples.

Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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#13 of 192 Old 08-19-2007, 12:39 PM
 
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For some it's not that they really worry about affording another but worry about how their quality of life will change. I do admit that I take into consideration all the extras that I want for my children. I grew up with parents that were low middle class then, i didn't care about the shopping at thrift stores, but I did want more then anything to take one class here or there, ballet, soccer, anything. I still remember as plain as day, the many times asking if one dance class might be able to be added into the budget. I never did any sports, classes, anything that wasn't free, and I wasn't allowed to do any extra school programs because then I couldn't of taken the school bus home and they weren't going to come and get me. I don't want to enroll my DC in every program under the sun, but to be able to enroll them in one here and there if they should desire.


And the medical bills are a huge part of my decision. No matter how healthy you are, illness happens, our DD2 threw us for a loop. Our out of pocket expenses are 20 grand for this year alone, I want to be able to pay the meds and equipment my child needs/has to have that insurance refuses to cover. And there are no payment plans to be worked out when the meds are 1500.00 a dose and they require payment before shipping.


I guess my views go above and beyond a simple increase of the food, electric, water, etc... bills, but this is important to my family and obviously everyone is different.

There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way.
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#14 of 192 Old 08-19-2007, 12:40 PM
 
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Here's an example of going beyond deciding what's best for your own family:

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Originally Posted by SquishyKitty View Post
I think my frustration with this statement comes from people who want more children, but yet talk about having to decide whether to pay the gas bill or the water bill this month...

I understand that things happen and it's not always feasible to wait for some families, but at the same time, my frustration is with the families who are obviously struggling, yet plan for more kids because "Babies are cheap!"

Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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#15 of 192 Old 08-19-2007, 12:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't see why it's wrong to take that kind of thing into consideration. I certainly don't expect other people to use my criteria when choosing how many children to have. It's just about us and our family.

I certainly don't think that's wrong, and that's not the impression I want to give people. I guess what got me thinking was another post I read this morning, can't remember which, about wife wanting more kids and husband not wanting more kids. A couple of the honest mamas who wanted more expressed jealousy of a friend or relative who was having another child and couldn't really "afford it." That's what got me thinking.

Also to Edamommy, I didn't mean to sound insensitive to the families that are financially struggling. I think you're right, there are a lot of families that just plain can't afford it today, not down the road.
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#16 of 192 Old 08-19-2007, 12:51 PM
 
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Haven't read the replies yet, but chiming in on what's making us wait for #2. We have a nice but modest house, but we live in a somewhat expensive area. I don't feel like we live extravagantly, but we do have cable/high speed internet and cell phones, and also some credit card debt we're still paying off. But we don't take vacations every year, don't eat out terribly often, buy used cars, etc.

The thing that's really weighing on me is infant care. At this point, with what my husband makes, we need my salary to make our monthly expenses. Once I start my paychecks again in September (I'm a teacher), we'll be coming out ahead, but without my pay, we wouldn't be making ends meet. I stayed at home with Lucy for the first year of her life, and I'm really grateful for that time. I would like to have the same with #2 (actually would love to stay home with them for longer), but right now, a year without my salary isn't feasible. So, the baby would have to be in infant daycare (as opposed to toddler daycare), and that's just not what I want (not to dig on any mamas who chose this route).

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#17 of 192 Old 08-19-2007, 12:54 PM
 
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Here's another example:

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Originally Posted by CheapPearls View Post
It kind of goes with the debate on if you are on WIC or welfare then choose to have another baby. If you can't afford to feed the family you have now don't add to it.
I think it works both ways. Those of us who don't believe in using birth-control shouldn't "get frustrated with" those who do, and vice-versa. It's all about respecting individual choice.

I find it interesting that contraception was supposed to expand choices for everyone -- but it seems like it actually makes some feel more constricted. We now "have the choice" to control family size -- but it can feel more like a mandate to those of us who choose not to take control, and to let God decide.

Another interesting by-product of this whole cultural transition, is that those of us who don't contracept are often accused of "thoughtlessly" having children -- as if "lack of family planning" were an indication that children are unimportant to us.

I realize this isn't a discussion about contraception, and am not trying to hi-jack this thread. I just think the tendency to judge for someone else whether they "have enough children,"

as well as the counter-tendency to judge whether someone else "really could afford more if they weren't so materialistic,"

are both rooted in a coercive attitude toward other people. I say, live and let live.

Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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#18 of 192 Old 08-19-2007, 12:56 PM
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For our family, it was only the first kid that really cost any money. We bought slings, diapers, clothes, I quit my job, etc. Each kid after him will reuse all of those slings, clothes, diapers, etc, and I'm already at home. I think me NOT working is the biggest "expense", and that won't change whether we have 1 or 10 kids.

BUT, we are having #3 this winter and we live in a 2 bedroom duplex. Since our kids are little, and co-sleep, the bedroom thing isn't a big deal. But we will have to move someplace bigger as they get bigger, and/or have more kids. So that is one things that DOES change the more kids we have, at least with our family.

But as far as health insurance goes, its the same price no matter how many kids we have. As far as schooling goes, we are homeschooling, and honestly, I do not feel we "owe" our kids a college education. We will help them anyway that we can, and take out loans, etc, if necessary, but I am not going to put my kids in day care and get a job NOW, in order to save money for college. :
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#19 of 192 Old 08-19-2007, 01:01 PM
 
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The thing that's really weighing on me is infant care.
Yes.

In our area, the best infant care places (and could I choose anywhere else?) are $1100 per month. The price drops slightly as the kids get older. We are paying $800 a month for my son to attend Pre-K this year.

When I think about paying for another child it literally makes my head go : . It's just incredibly expensive.

And even though we have a nice house, decent jobs, good insurance, etc., it doesn't mean we have a lot of money left over every month! We're not poor, but we're not rolling in it either, and daycare is just incredibly, incredibly expensive.
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#20 of 192 Old 08-19-2007, 01:10 PM
 
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I guess I'm one of the people who frustrates you. We have had just one and we've been debating long and hard about whether we can "afford" another one. And we don't literally mean afford - we knew we could afford another child in that he/she would never be hungry or not have something to wear - that kind of thing. When we say that we mean whether we can afford to buy $60 shoes for two kids instead of one, and whether we'll be able to afford the expensive Montessori preschool for another kid, airfare for four instead of three when we travel, that kind of thing. We have decided to have another child, but we want our lifestyle to stay the same, and we want to be able to give the next one what the first one has had.

I don't see why it's wrong to take that kind of thing into consideration. I certainly don't expect other people to use my criteria when choosing how many children to have. It's just about us and our family.
This might apply to me as well. To me education is THE most important thing--probably because my PhD is in education. So I WANT to afford to send my kids to college because I know that it will be costly by the time they are ready to go and I fear that they might think that it is too costly for them to go on loans. I am also an older mom and by the time my kids go to college, I will be retired and living off of my retirement funds. I also WANT to be able to provide my children afterschool activities if they should want them and I want to be able to afford educational experiences and options should we choose to. It IS expensive to have tutors (if they are needed) and braces for teeth and sports equipment, etc. I worked three jobs while I put myself through my undergraduate and graduate programs and I STILL had to have a loan to help me afford an apartment when I was in graduate school. I'm still paying that off!
Frankly, I think people are fooling themselves when they think that they can afford just to live for themselves--children or no children--social security as we know it will not exist when we retire (and those who are younger than me will have it even worse)...and you cannot expect your children to help you in your retirement--that type of mental insurance is not realistic.
I say be prepared for all options so that you don't find yourself in a bind. And a nice house on the outside does not mean that folks can afford anything else. Most of the people where I live would fall flat on their financial faces if one of the two working parents lost their jobs. They "appear" to be well-off, but I bet many of them are upside down on their homes and their credit cards debts are high. We don't live like this (I SAH) but I know many many who do. It's not a safe bet. Foreclosure is the name of the game around here. I don't want to live like that and worry about the what if's. I don't think that is wise whether you have children or not.
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#21 of 192 Old 08-19-2007, 01:19 PM
 
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For our family, it was only the first kid that really cost any money. We bought slings, diapers, clothes, I quit my job, etc. Each kid after him will reuse all of those slings, clothes, diapers, etc, and I'm already at home. I think me NOT working is the biggest "expense", and that won't change whether we have 1 or 10 kids.
While this can be true when kids are very young for many of us that changes as kids get older. Nursing was free, but a preteen can eat as much as an adult. Our child is now in adult shoes - they are twice as expensive as kid's shoes. Braces are medically necessary, cost $5,000 and are not covered by insurance. He plays a musical instrument and lessons are expensive. At one time anything that came from a garage sale or thrift store worked great for homeschooling, but as he's gotten older and has more specific interests it isn't as easy to find bargains. We now have more interest in going to museums and concerts rather than just going to the park for free.

Yes, music lessons, books on topics of interest, classes, and concerts are not strictly necessary in order to live, but they are things we value and are glad to provide.

I would encourage people to take a longer range view than how much babies cost because the bigger costs come as kids get older.
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#22 of 192 Old 08-19-2007, 01:32 PM
 
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For us its not about affording the day to day bills - thats never been an issue. It really comes down to affording a top-notch education.

Mom to Kira March 2009
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#23 of 192 Old 08-19-2007, 01:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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While this can be true when kids are very young for many of us that changes as kids get older. Nursing was free, but a preteen can eat as much as an adult. Our child is now in adult shoes - they are twice as expensive as kid's shoes. Braces are medically necessary, cost $5,000 and are not covered by insurance. He plays a musical instrument and lessons are expensive. At one time anything that came from a garage sale or thrift store worked great for homeschooling, but as he's gotten older and has more specific interests it isn't as easy to find bargains. We now have more interest in going to museums and concerts rather than just going to the park for free.

Yes, music lessons, books on topics of interest, classes, and concerts are not strictly necessary in order to live, but they are things we value and are glad to provide.

I would encourage people to take a longer range view than how much babies cost because the bigger costs come as kids get older.
Here is some good info. Although I never felt like having a baby was cheap, I hadn't thought of braces! I was completely bucktoothed until I had mine. I think I was skipping entirely over the adolescent years to my concerns about college. Like I said in the OP, I'm still paying off my student loans but there's not a day where I've said to myself, you know I wish my parents wouldn't have had me because they couldn't pay for my college education...I don't know, I'm staying at home so we're not saving much right now, but my, I would never expect my children to support me in my retirement...What a crazy burden for my children!
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#24 of 192 Old 08-19-2007, 01:40 PM
 
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This is something I've been thinking about, as my 2 school aged kids (we have 4) go to private school, and the cost per month is the same as our mortgage + one car payment. and we have 2 more little ones not school aged yet.

I want more kids, but at this point, affording private school for them will be tough. WE also had to buy a van with the arrival of baby #4-we only had one car, and it only had 5 seats, and we do all go places together.

Healthcare is only more expensive the in co-pay department. the monthly cost doesn't go up with the addition of more kids.

Student Nurse Midwife and semi crunchy mom to 4 "C" named kids! 10yr old DS, 8 yr old DD, 6yr old DD, and 3 yr old DS. Praying that C #5 is in the future for me!
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#25 of 192 Old 08-19-2007, 01:45 PM
 
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Whenever this puzzlement about folks who say they "can't afford more kids" comes up, it always seems to be from parents of very young children, in situations where there is a sahp. And I can understand that. When you've got babies and toddlers, you're so caught up in that world, and you know very well that - barring unforeseen medical conditions - babies and toddlers don't cost a family very much.

Unless both parents have to/want to work outside the home, of course, in which case, they do.

But I don't hear that kind of "puzzlement" from parents of older kids. Those folks know that shoes, clothes, sports, field trips, music lessons, food all add up. And once your kid gets to be 7 or 8, it's a lot harder to find all those barely worn thrift store clothes you could always score for the little ones.

But all this aside, I think it really comes down to what you want for your kids and what you think they need. That's going to be highly individual for each family. Technically, we could have another two kids. Sure, we could. We have the space for them in the house, and we could afford to feed them and clothe them.

But we couldn't save for college for four the way we can for the two we have. And saving for college is one of our highest financial priorities. It obviously isn't for everyone, but it's a deal-breaker for us. We can't afford more kids.

But for me, finances are almost beside the point. The main way we can't afford more kids is emotionally. Two are the most our marriage, our patience, and our mental health can stand. And I think that a lot of people who say they can't afford more kids mean it in more ways than financially.
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#26 of 192 Old 08-19-2007, 01:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by zinemama View Post
Whenever this puzzlement about folks who say they "can't afford more kids" comes up, it always seems to be from parents of very young children
This seems logical though, since it is common to have all your children in a 3 to 6 year time span.
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#27 of 192 Old 08-19-2007, 02:03 PM
 
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Here's another example:



I think it works both ways. Those of us who don't believe in using birth-control shouldn't "get frustrated with" those who do, and vice-versa. It's all about respecting individual choice.

I find it interesting that contraception was supposed to expand choices for everyone -- but it seems like it actually makes some feel more constricted. We now "have the choice" to control family size -- but it can feel more like a mandate to those of us who choose not to take control, and to let God decide.

Another interesting by-product of this whole cultural transition, is that those of us who don't contracept are often accused of "thoughtlessly" having children -- as if "lack of family planning" were an indication that children are unimportant to us.

I realize this isn't a discussion about contraception, and am not trying to hi-jack this thread. I just think the tendency to judge for someone else whether they "have enough children,"

as well as the counter-tendency to judge whether someone else "really could afford more if they weren't so materialistic,"

are both rooted in a coercive attitude toward other people. I say, live and let live.
No doubt. And it's nice to know that now I can think about how people wish I would stop reproducing since we have WIC right now.

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#28 of 192 Old 08-19-2007, 02:28 PM
 
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No doubt. And it's nice to know that now I can think about how people wish I would stop reproducing since we have WIC right now.
It seems many find it hard to see others joyfully welcoming new babies, especially when those "others" are financially less well-off than many of the people who are stopping with one or two.

I think if everyone felt good about their own decisions, there's be no patronizing judgment directed at those who decide differently.

Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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#29 of 192 Old 08-19-2007, 03:01 PM
 
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I have to agree with Roar and Zine and others who have mentioned the cost of older children. Groceries alone make my head spin. My kids wear men's shoes and outgrow them every other month. We will be paying out of pocket for a dental retainer next year. The list goes on.

Enrichment and activities are a real issue too, I think. Its not as easy to argue that our kids do not really need these things, when they are 8 or 10, and show a real aptitude or a passionate interest in something. You WANT to feed this kind of need like you do any other need.

I know of a family who lives hand-to-mouth, who can't pay all their bills every month, who will argue that "babies are cheap," and they keep having them. And yet they also feel very depressed that their 8 yo. child shows enormous musical aptitude, and they can't afford to do a single thing to nurture it. I don't know what the answer is for them, or if hindsight even applies (who regrets a child, you know???) but I do see that as their children get older, their enthusiasm about having more is wanning.
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#30 of 192 Old 08-19-2007, 03:21 PM
 
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I'm unable to work, so we must not only consider our child's future, but our own retirement. Our son is four months old and we're not currently planning on ever having another, though that could change.

My husband and I are both musically gifted (he much more than I), if our child shows aptitude, we absolutely will support this as much as we can. I was an athlete and while public school athletics aren't super expensive, they aren't a non-expense, either. Years of wearing crappy shoes and the ensuing health problems that come with means that I'll be keeping a close eye on my kid's shoes. I remember how fast *I* grew--I get dizzy thinking about buying new sneakers every few months.

We may not buy a larger house--our house is very small and will probably prove cramped in a few years. It would be very tight with additional children. It would be hard to afford a larger house in the town we currently live in, especially on a single income. We do want some creature comforts. Right now, it just makes sense to stick to one child.

My parents covered the portions of my college which weren't met by my scholarships. My in-laws helped my husband. I absolutely *do* want to provide a college education for my child and we're starting to work on that now.

Hand-me-downs and room sharing are fine and dandy, though if we were to have a daughter, I'd eventually want the kids to have their own rooms sometime in elementary school.

Right now, one child is all our physical and mental health can accomodate. We adore our son, but would have trouble coping with more. And we're okay with that.

Chasing DS since April 2007 and pumping for DD March 2013.

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