Social Question

nikipedia's avatar

Why do people have children they can't afford?

Asked by nikipedia (27338 points ) October 28th, 2011

I know how this question sounds, but I genuinely mean it with no judgment. I have been reading the “We Are the 99%” tumblr (http://wearethe99percent.tumblr.com/), and there is also a situation in my personal life that made me wonder about this. Having kids makes any bad situation (unemployment, low wage job, car problems) much worse, and I am wondering how it transpires that so many people have kids that they have no resources to care for. Does it come about largely because of unforeseeable catastrophes, incorrect expectations about the cost of raising children, accidental babies and a strong pro-life position, something else I’m not considering?

Again, I really do not mean to suggest that anyone in this situation is lazy or stupid or a bad person, and I very strongly believe anyone in this position is entitled to as much public assistance as they need. But I am wondering why it is that this situation seems to come about, and why it happens so often.

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120 Answers

KatawaGrey's avatar

Biological imperative.

That is a completely serious answer. It is hardwired into most of us to pass on our genes. Every other reason people claim to have is really just an extension of a base instinct wired into us by millions of years of evolution.

OpryLeigh's avatar

I would say that everyone’s story is different but some may have gotten pregnant by accident and couldn’t bring themselves to abort, some may have been financially stable when they decided to have kids but circumstances change, some people may be just careless and are happy to live on benefits and live in a house that the council has provided for them so there kids aren’t homeless. Please note: I don’t think that everyone who lives on benefits is careless or sponging but it does seem that some people (at least here in England) know that by having a child that they can’t afford they will get a house from the council.

Allie's avatar

“Does it come about largely because of unforeseeable catastrophes, incorrect expectations about the cost of raising children, accidental babies and a strong pro-life position [...]?”

I think you answered 95% of your own question right there.

tedd's avatar

Because they’re idiots, or uneducated, or flat out ignorant, and they indulge in their basic instincts to procreate without the forethought to realize the consequences of it.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@tedd : How logical and reasonable a response from someone who has no clue. It’s never that simple, and what a harsh harsh judgment you make. Tell me, @tedd , how many people have you actually talked to directly who are in this position?

Hibernate's avatar

Some don’t see abortion as a viable option. If God made it possible then they keep the kid and try to raise it.

Scooby's avatar

BENEFITS…. There are some selfish types in England who have children purely for the benefits they’ll be entitle too….. Out of work, single young mothers get priority with local authority housing, rent rebates & all the other subsidiaries thrown at them……child support & then they just keep knocking them out for more hand outs, some out of work families are on more than £500.00 per week in benefits alone…..

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I think they’re sometimes looking for a few minutes of escape from their problems, so they create even bigger problems and the cycle continues.

XD's avatar

I believe there is a cultural correlation between the perceived cost of raising a child and the number of children born into families of a particular culture. This is why birth rates are relatively lower in industrialized countries.

wundayatta's avatar

I think it is the prerogative of the middle class and up to think about whether or not they can afford kids. This is, I suppose, counterintuitive. However, it is generally cheaper for poorer people to have kids. For a rich person to give up an income to take care of kids is pretty expensive. For someone who is making no income, the marginal cost of having another kid is almost nothing.

So, counter to the premise of your question, it’s actually cheaper for poor people to have children than it is for wealthier people. There is less lost opportunity cost. In addition, if a wealthier person doesn’t want to forego and income, they have to spend on daycare, which can cost upwards of $25K per child these days. If you’re poor, you don’t have to spend that much money. You can get cheap childcare in someone’s home. Or you can stay home and take care of them yourself. Of course, if your income is low enough, you can get federal assistance, which actually means you make money by having kids and no personal income.

It’s counterintuitive and conservatives would say it is counter-productive. We don’t want to encourage the poor to have kids and become eligible for public services. Unfortunately, the economy already does that, so either the public helps or the kids are in even worse shape then they otherwise would be.

Weird, eh?

Coloma's avatar

Obviously I am not talking about 5th generation welfare abusers, but, the fact is, most of us wouldn’t be here if our parents could have truly afforded us. lol

I’ve stated my feelings on this before in other questions.

One MUST live in their present moment reality, and not being able to send your child to Harvard is not on the same continuum as not being able to afford diapers and formula.

I do feel, given the state of gross over population on our planet, that it is rather irresponsible to have multiple children these days, IF, one really cares about conserving our already fast dwindling resources and wishes to “provide” and protect such for future generations.

But, to not have a child because you can’t set up as college fund or afford braces from day one is overkill.

Nullo's avatar

And sometimes they have kids and then things turn sour, or they turn sour because they have kids – but it’s just that important to them. Or perhaps they don’t care so much about becoming wealthy. And I knew a (pro-life) woman once whose epilepsy meds conflicted with birth control meds (dunno why they didn’t use condoms), who had a bunch of kids.

jaytkay's avatar

Birth rates are almost universally inversely proportional to prosperity. Poor countries have high birth rates, wealthy countries have low ones.

It’s been that way throughout history. It is literally human nature.

Blackberry's avatar

There are multiple reasons. Some people really are all about that sanctity of life stuff, so if a couple gets pregnant, regardless if it was an accident or not, to them it is just “We have to do the right thing” or whatever. But I’m not going to list every possible scenario that involves people choosing to have/keep a child. That’ll take forever.

Some people have honest intentions, and some don’t. Some people are intentionally ignorant, and some are just raised in a certain society. Some have very strong emotions, which makes it hard for them to think rationally. There’s just a lot of factors.

nikipedia's avatar

@Coloma, I’m not talking about braces or college education. I mean these “I am the 99%” people who cannot provide food or healthcare for their children.

nikipedia's avatar

@KatawaGrey, I guess what I’m getting at is, suppose you have a biological imperative to have children, but you know you cannot provide basic necessities for them. It seems unlikely to me that people are saying, “eff it, I’ll just have ‘em anyway,” so what is going on in those situations?

tom_g's avatar

@KatawaGrey got it (“biological imperative”). The question will invariably come back to “Why do people have children they can’t afford?” Remember that the logical choice here is to not have kids at all – regardless of income level.

nikipedia's avatar

@tom_g, to what logic are you referring?

Coloma's avatar

Well the old ” The road to hell is paved with good intentions” is very true!
I waited 6 years after marrying to have my daughter, she was planned to the minute, I voluntarily put myself in counseling to address my fears of mothering based on a less than stellar relationship with my mother, to be told I was just fine and would make a wonderful mom. Even, after all of my careful planning and insight my marriage hit the rocks and I divorced my daughters dad when she was 15 which, of course, had a substantial financial impact at the time.

There are NO guarantees in life, you just do your best to be as responsible as you are capable of, given all the unforseeable factors.

@nikipedia Of course, I thought I made it clear that I wasn’t talking welfare candidates.

tom_g's avatar

@nikipedia – People with children are less happy than couples without kids. The earth cannot sustain the current level of population growth. We create – from nothing – conscious creatures who will experience pain and suffering. <—These, for starters.

tom_g's avatar

@nikipedia – So, I guess what I’m saying is that once you can answer why anyone would have kids, you will be closer to answering why the poor would have kids. It comes back to @KatawaGrey‘s original answer.

ucme's avatar

Yeah, I have to agree with what @Leanne1986 & @Scooby said. Unfortunately there are a ton of “Vicky Pollard’s” dotted around estates here in Britianiesburg who are only too willing to sponge off the state. For those people, kids are merely vouchers they can cash in. Sad, but true.

tom_g's avatar

@nikipedia – Interesting. I’ll have to look at it. I thought the jury was no longer out on this one. I’ll see what I can dig up, but for now I’m just seeing stuff like this.

Blackberry's avatar

Is it possible we’re (society) in a time when we are starting to suppress our biological responses as a result of maybe becoming more “modern”, or thinking more in terms of society in a wider spectrum instead of on a smaller, tribal level?

There are a lot of natural responses we could embrace, but many of us are using more logical approaches to things. I don’t know, it’s just something that poppped up in my head. What do you think?

Nullo's avatar

@tom_g I dunno, I know people who are unhappy because they can’t have kids. And having more people around to love has got to be pretty heady.

And no, it’s not all easy. But we’re not happy with easy, either.
Take video games. Just about every single one from Space Invaders onwards has a learning/difficulty curve. The best-sellers are juuuuuust difficult enough to hold most people’s interest; the worst ones are either too hard, or too easy.
Then there’s normalization. We can adapt to anything that doesn’t flat-out kill us, make it the norm. If ‘easy’ becomes ‘normal’ we stat worrying about stupid things like being without TV on your break.
We need a little hardship to be whole.

And I would go so far as to say that our own happiness isn’t the point anyway.

ratboy's avatar

Unless he’s doing a whore, financial consequences are the last thing on a guy’s mind during the procreative act.

Coloma's avatar

@Blackberry

I agree. We have reached a time in our evolution where a collective shift in consciousness is the ONLY thing that might save us, if it’s not too late already.

Truthfully, even if we hot zero population growth for the next 60 years, ther’d still be far too much human pressure on the plants resources. What’cha gonna do, the few that are awakening to the need for a massive shift in consciousness are still in the minority and most peeps are just dithering along stuck in their own very narrow worlds.

SuperMouse's avatar

I know someone who, without a job, with another young child, and with a mate who was in college with only a part-time job, went ahead and got pregnant. This baby was not a mistake, they said they weren’t trying to have a baby but they weren’t trying not to either and whatever happened happened. For the life of me I cannot understand that mindset and honestly none of the responses here have enlightened me. I do understand @Coloma‘s point about how one can never really afford to have children, but there are absolutely life circumstances that make it a more positive experience for parent and child. With the couple I am speaking of, the mom went back to work when that baby was two weeks old. Two weeks. They won’t even take babies at daycare until they are six weeks old. My youngest is 9 (years) and I am agonizing about the decision to go back to work full time.

The only reason that seems even remotely plausible to me, is a “we’ll jump off that bridge when we come to it” kind of attitude. You know figuring that they’ll play it by ear and hopefully find a way to make it all work.

tom_g's avatar

@Nullo – I’m not talking about perception. I thought (and I can’t seem to find any scientific abstracts on this stuff) that it was very clear that happiness was greatest for childless couples, followed by empty nesters, followed by people with kids – despite the perception that having kids will make you happy, etc.

NOTE: I have 3 kids – they are my life and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m pretty sure the data shows, however, that I will approach – but not meet – the happiness level (statistically – not me in particular) of childless couples when my kids leave the nest.

I did not have kids because it made the most sense. I had kids because we have evolved to want kids.

Nullo's avatar

@tom_g Funny thing about statistics is that they’re not going to reflect reality; harmless-looking data, or the wrong criteria, or a bad premise, or even too much generalization (via averages and such) can warp the whole thing. And that’s before getting into foul play.

People who approach kid-having from the wrong angle probably won’t be as happy as they would be without kids (your article referenced people who have kids to fill the silence or to tape a relationship together), but I’d bet dollars to donuts that you’re happier overall than a couple who’s decided not to reproduce.

nikipedia's avatar

@Nullo, you don’t have to “bet” dollars, donuts, or anything. Why not look at a research study that supports your position with data?

Coloma's avatar

@tom_g

That is true, but..as always, there is an equal and opposite truth. That opposite truth is that while kids do put a strain on relationships, there is also, nothing more rewarding than when you are on equal turf and massively in-joying your adult kids for the amazing people they have become, no small thanks to ones parenting contributions.

My marriage was a bust, but, my daughter is forever, sooo, it was worth it to me to make the “sacrifices” I did, and the rewards are great. :-)

Nothing takes the “E” out of ego and puts one in a state of truly experiencing altruism like raising a child does.

Facade's avatar

I think most people take on many responsibilities they cannot afford, including children. People buy cars, houses, televisions, etc., and very few of them have the money for those things and wouldn’t be able to own them without some type of credit or loan. If people want something, including children, they’ll get them whether they can afford it or not.
My opinion is that people should live below their means, or at least right in line with their means, and I don’t think people who cannot afford a child should have one, let alone multiple children.

tom_g's avatar

@Nullo – I agree with much of what you’re saying, and my instinct would be to say that I am happier than childless people. However, I can’t just assert this. Either there is data to back this up or not. Anecdotes are no substitute for answers.

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Nullo's avatar

@tom_g My comment on statistics was to point out that the data might simply have not been collected. Your gut isn’t always wrong, and statistics change their face regularly enough that I don’t feel like banking on them 100%.

Scooby's avatar

Did you know?? :-/

“The world’s population is expected to hit seven billion in the next few weeks”.

cazzie's avatar

Yes…. 7 billion and you better learn to get along or else.

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Response moderated
tom_g's avatar

@Nullo – I’m starting to doubt that the data really is there. Admittedly, I am multi-tasking right now, but I swear I came across a ton of studies just a couple of years ago that confirmed that childless couples were much happier. Now all I find are articles referring to those studies. Heck, I could be wrong. Maybe having kids is the way to go to find happiness. I’d like to see data though.

Anyway, I’m not saying that my “gut” has to be always wrong. I’m just open to the possibility that there are things at work here (say, millions of years of evolution) that might have some control over my desires and perspectives that I may not even be aware of.

SuperMouse's avatar

@cazzie do you mind me asking what is making you so sick? I understand your point that “life happens” but when contemplating this question I considered mostly those who made a conscious decision to have children, or at least not to avoid having them. Life happens yes, but there are tried and true methods of birth control.

wonderingwhy's avatar

With regards to why do people have children they can’t afford: perhaps because they want to (personal answer that could be different for anyone) or believe they must (internal and/or external pressures)?

tom_g's avatar

@Coloma – I hear you – having kids has been the most rewarding thing I have ever done, and I wouldn’t change any of it. However, I am pretty sure if there was a way to accurately measure all of the pain and sacrifice and compare it to the pure joy, etc. it might not be clear why we do it.

cazzie's avatar

can we talk about the tried and true methods? First and foremost there is education. the ones that come raging against the issue of mothers needing state help are the ones directly opposed to sex educationin schools and the day after pill… and state funded abortions and birth control????

JilltheTooth's avatar

Just as an FYI, the USA is fairly low on the population density scale, considering the numbers.

cazzie's avatar

There is so little sympathy for these women….. and when they have children, they become doubly cursed.

cazzie's avatar

@JilltheTooth but they top the scale for infant morality for a westernised country… Why is that, do you think?

tedd's avatar

@JilltheTooth If you’re educated on the subject your know that having sex can very easily produce a child. You also know that there are readily available contraceptives to prevent this occurrence. And you probably also know that babies are expensive and put an extreme damper on your life/lifestyle/finances/etc.

I have multiple friends who had accidental children because they were too stupid to wrap it up, and now find themselves living with parents, room mates at a late age, or in various financial pickles because they now have to provide and care for a child. Not that they don’t love their children, in fact some of them are the most caring parents I’ve ever seen… But they would readily acknowledge that their life and the lives of their potential future children would’ve been better off if they’d just used a condom that time, or taken their BC as instructed, or etc, etc, etc.

Hence having a child as the OP suggested, when you are not really able to care for one on various levels… is a result of ignorance, and basic procreation urges.

(this post is out of context as I made my initial post where @JilltheTooth responded nearly 40 posts ago)

cazzie's avatar

@tedd I get what you are talking about…. you mean the male side of the equation. OK… fair enough…. it talks mainly of regret, it seems…. so utterly sad.

tinyfaery's avatar

I don’t think the biological imperative is to blame. People go against instincts all the time.

All the reasons for having kids are egotistical. Plain and simple, people want to have kids. They don’t think about what comes after the cooing and cuteness.

I’m referring to the US only. People in impoverished countries have children because they have no access to birth control, kids actually help the parents survive, and let’s not forget the high death rates of children in these countries. People have a lot of kids because many won’t survive.

jonsblond's avatar

If someone has more pain and sacrifice in their life than joy when they have children, well, I really feel sorry for you. :/

cazzie's avatar

@tinyfaery you oversimplify to a horrendous degree…. but I still like you.

wonderingwhy's avatar

@cazzie I’m not sure @tinyfaery is really oversimplifying that much. It is a choice, what drives you to take one path versus another may be considered biological imperative but it is hardly incorrect to say that we don’t have to follow it. We often do follow it because we don’t consider the long term consequences only the short-term goals even when it’s evident to ourselves or others that it likely won’t work out the way we think.

tinyfaery's avatar

Everything is ego. And I don’t care if you like me or not.

YoBob's avatar

Ok…. another favorite bumper sticker:

“If you drink, don’t park. Accidents cause people!”

nikipedia's avatar

@tom_g: Parenting is very modestly correlated (r=-.184, p=0.035) with less reported happiness (link opens pdf), lower life satisfaction ratings (pdf), lower marital satisfaction (pdf).

SuperMouse's avatar

@cazzie first, I am all for sex education and the other things you mention such as the morning after pill. I am also all for providing birth control and I am a huge supporter of Planned Parenthood.

I personally managed to avoid having children for the first twelve years of my first marriage because I knew that personally and financially the time was not right. That is why I tend to be lacking a ton of sympathy for women who have received the education, know how to use birth control and how to use a condom, but opt out of doing so then have a child they cannot afford.

jerv's avatar

@tedd Condoms break, and other birth control is likewise less than 100% effective. We won’t even get into those whose life circumstances changed after conception, except to say that I can think of enough counter-examples to believe that, while you are not entirely wrong, you definitely are not right.

@cazzie ~ But if we don’t teach them about sex, they won’t have it!
Seriously though, the irony is staggering.

wonderingwhy's avatar

@tom_g and @nikipedia (and whoever else was following that)

Just another reference to the list. Also if you google parenting and overall happiness Google scholar comes up with enough to spend the weekend reading from the looks of it.

Coloma's avatar

I disagree with ego being the driving force behind wanting a child for most people.

I genuinely wanted to give a child a great life, and true, I did want to be a better parent than my mother, and I was, a gazillion times over, but ego never entered into it.
Careful with the generalizations folks. ;-)

JilltheTooth's avatar

@tedd : Maybe you should have said that in your first post rather than such a sweeping, harsh blanket judgement. There are a lot more reasons why people have children they can’t afford, as stated in @Leanne1986‘s first post.

Facade's avatar

@Coloma You may have felt that way, but a lot of people have kids just to satisfy themselves and stroke their ego. I know a lot people personally who treat children as accessories, as something to show off. The vast majority of them are under the age of 20 and cannot afford their children. Ignorant mindsets are in abundance in many communities.

Coloma's avatar

@Facade

That’s called narcissism, using others as extensions of self to glean attention.
Sadly that is a strong thread in our present day culture, and, a very damaging one. Valuing another only for the attention and ego strokes they bring.

It’s also a mindset that is responsible for a whole lotta kids growing up believing their only value is in how they look and their “performance.” It’s a sick reason for parenting, indeed.

tedd's avatar

@JilltheTooth (reading @Leanne1986‘s first post) So my “sweeping” judgment was to what?... Not count people who have children and then see their financial situation change, and/or to not count people who have children for the welfare benefits?

Well on the first count that wouldn’t really apply to what I said, because those people wouldn’t be having children they couldn’t afford, they’d be having children and then losing their ability to afford them… completely different from the OP’s scenario.

And on the second count, please tell me how someone having children to sponge off of welfare would make them not an ignorant person. Having witnessed this many times thanks to my part time job I can tell you welfare is not really sufficient to support you and a child (in a lot of cases it doesn’t support the child even).

wonderingwhy's avatar

@tedd please tell me how someone having children to sponge off of welfare would make them not an ignorant person
Actually, until the person in questions goal(s) and depth of knowledge is known, that implies the exact opposite of ignorance. As it implies the person has a degree of knowledge, they believe sufficient, of the system in place and is using that knowledge purposefully. They may be ignorant but as uniformed observers we can’t know that.

So my “sweeping” judgment was to what?
Your sweeping judgement in your first post seems to be categorizing all people who have children they can’t afford as idiots, or uneducated, or flat out ignorant, indulgent, and lacking consequential forethought. I say that because of your use of “they’re” and assuming it was referencing the original question therefor referencing people who have children they can’t afford.

Billy_Strauss's avatar

They have no self-control. And it is obvious that most forms of Birth Control are not as effective as manufacturers’ claim.
Also, many people are having excess children for their churches.

Blackberry's avatar

@Coloma Um, I just wanted to inquire about something as I’m confused. But wouldn’t the reasoning of wanting to give a child a better life because you feel you would be better at it kind of be somewhat ego driven? I don’t care either way, because we all have egos, and I love to stroke mine sometimes, too. But it seems somewhat ego driven when one may say ”I could do this much better…” Just wondering.

That seems like something I would also say myself. I may feel I could do a better job than someone else I know, for example.

tedd's avatar

@wonderingwhy If someone is stupid enough to believe they will benefit monetarily, or live some kind of life of luxury and ease by having children for the welfare…. they’ve got another thing coming, and their incredibly false belief in that is a gigantic sign of ignorance.

wonderingwhy's avatar

@tedd Agreed, but again it assumes knowledge of their goal. Someone receiving $300 a month by themselves may decide they can risk their future kids sufficiently to make an acceptable profit on $900 a month. Such thinking may be many things, and certainly not in any way “good”, but it’s not in and of itself ignorant.

As you said, thinking you’re suddenly going to be eating at Morton’s and driving a Ferrari because you’re getting a welfare check, that’s ignorant, or at the very least amazingly misinformed (though perhaps more of a sign of gullibility or delusion rather than ignorance).

Coloma's avatar

@Blackberry

True, there is always a little bit of ego lurking, a lot of people , especially immature young women want a child to GET love from, more than to GIVE love too.

Yeah, I can admit that I was somewhat “invested” in being a “better” mom to my daughter than I felt I had, but..at the same time, I really, really, wanted to share a fun and creative liefestyle wth a child, simply for the sake of sharing. ;-)

Blackberry's avatar

@Coloma Yeah, I agree. It does sound “fun” and “enriching” to share the connection and know you had a hand in preparing an upstanding human being, even if there is a little ego in it. I don’t think that’s bad. Parents should take credit for awesome kids.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

So many reasons but most often I’ve heard:

There’s always a way to make ends meet.

Children are a blessing even when you don’t ask for them.

Children will enrich your life even if you are poor.

I don’t buy into any of these things and sometimes feel it’s an insult to people who work hard and plan carefully, think about society as a whole and yet are expected to carry burdens of other people who have such laid back attitudes. I absolutely hate and feel terrible everytime I see very poor children or note how many are put up for adoption that don’t ever come through and end up horrible group homes, foster care and then turned out. I’ve known many poor people.

Billy_Strauss's avatar

As much pain as birthing is, as much work as infants are, and as much heartbreak as teens can be, I wonder why anybody would ever have more than 1 child.

Coloma's avatar

@Neizvestnaya

Well, a lot of that is true, it is also true what @Billy_Strauss says.
Hey, I’ve done my part, I am the only child of an only child and I chose to have an only child. 3 generations of low impact reproduction in my family. lol

CWOTUS's avatar

Many people, maybe even “most” people, believe in some kind of magic:

1. If we have a child together, then my partner will want to stay with me because our love will grow. (by magic)
2. If we have a child together, then God will provide for us. (more magic)
3. We can have sex and not worry about pregnancy. (magic contraception)
4. When we have children, then we’ll mature. (magic cause and effect)

You could probably make up your own list of “why we don’t have to worry about getting pregnant, and how it’ll be okay if she does”.

jonsblond's avatar

@Billy_Strauss Birthing and infants are such a short time in the lifespan of a child. It really isn’t as terrible as some make it out to be. You aren’t a parent, are you? And not all teens give you heartbreak. It really isn’t that hard to see why someone would have more than one child, especially if you are a parent already.

wundayatta's avatar

Take a look at this chart. The world population median estimate tops out around 9 billion. It stays more of less the same for another couple of centuries. This is a solution in search of a problem.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

They always say “if you wait until you can afford kids, you’ll never have any.”
In some sense, I believe it is true. Most of the people that I know with children struggle financially. If you consider the window of time, most people wouldn’t necessarily be able to manage to have children, otherwise.
A woman’s fertility begins to decline at age 30. That means that before 30, one must be financially comfortable, have a willing co-parent or partner (or other means of conception) in order to have a child that they can “afford.”
I’m 29 right now, which means the majority of my friends are in this age range, and I can say that NONE of us can say that conditions are “ideal” to have a child, especially financially. Student loans, mortgages, car payments, the cost of living in general. Hell, a lot of the people I know are just finishing college, which not only means that they are just starting their careers, but also that they have boatloads of debt. So, what? Wait another 10 years? There is the risk that pregnancy may not occur, or that there will be higher risks with the pregnancy.

Blackberry's avatar

You know what we really need to work on? Biological research on women. We need to discover a way to extract or postpone whatever it is in the female body that controls this fertility clock. Hmmm…....:P

Coloma's avatar

Well, personally I’d rather see less than perfect financial stability in younger parents than 60 year old moms and dads.

I can’t believe these old broads that want to give birth.
Holy fuck, if I turned up pregnant in my 40’s or 50’s I’d tie a rock around my neck and do a swan dive off a bridge. lol

Facade's avatar

@Coloma My mom was 39 when she had me, and she was over-joyed, especially since she was told she couldn’t have children. Older people can bring a lot to parenting that younger ones cannot.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

@Coloma: I think more families would be more stable and positive for their kids if they were older, like late 30’s to 50. The kids of older parents I’ve known have had a lot better childhoods. My own grandparents raised me for my first 5 years and their experience with me (in their 40’s) was totally different than what they had with my mom. My mom says I got all the very best a kid should have and I agree!

Coloma's avatar

@Facade Oh yeah, 39 is NOT old, and it is not 49, 59, or 69. I’m speaking more of these wack job women like that 63 year old giving birth. Crazy!

Coloma's avatar

@Neizvestnaya

I agree with that as well, I was 28 when I had my daughter, a pretty good middle of the road age IMO.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Why do people have children they can’t afford?

Most likely for the same reasons as the people that can afford them: To create a family.

Older people can bring a lot to parenting that younger ones cannot.

Yep, like autism

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

When people have kids and have to raise them in squalor, I figure they had to be one of these categories:
• The high school, or college sweethearts who could not keep their pants on.
• The college girl who played the field drunk, or near drunk, as to not have sex without anyone not using protection, when she didn’t have birth control.
• The couple that thought it would be cute and nice to have children and a family but underestimated what the on the ground cost was going to be.
• Those who knew they were on the shy side of the finances, but figured by the time the kid was 3–5 they would make up the stagger.
• Those in the third world where the only recreation they have is boinking, and no birth control.
Those to me, are the logical groups that have children they can’t fully afford.

Coloma's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central
Maybe. However, as @SpatzieLover said, the motive of wanting a FAMILY is not one that can be segregated by your measurements alone.

If we say we don’t believe certain people should have families because of a certain level of poverty, then we become a police state. I do agree that welfare abusers are taking advantage of the “system”, however, not everyone that needs some aide at one time or another should feel shamed because of that.

Again, everything is subjective.

Maybe I shouldn’t have adopted a new pet at almost 52, what if my new cat outlives me?

I’ve got plenty of cash right now, but, if I fall into poverty was I irresponsible for adopting my cat just because I MIGHT fall into unforseen difficulties?

No. While pragmatism has it’s place, I don’t think anyone should live their lives in a “what if?” manner.

Again, I agree if one cannot provide the basics for a happy and healthy child it would be best to abstain from starting a family, but, lots of the worlds greatest minds and contributors have come from a background of poverty.

This is highly sensitive and subjective turf we’re treading on here.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

If I were able, I would have liked to become a parent about now, I’m 44. I feel this way for several reasons:

In my 20’s I was still learning to raise myself.

In my 30’s I was enjoying just “being”.

In my 40’s I don’t feel I’d be giving up any of my youth, missing out on anything and yet having enough youth, energy and desire to give give give to another growing person. I feel more patience and openness to learning new things now than when I was younger.

cazzie's avatar

If you can’t value life in the way and shape it comes, there is nothing I can say to convince you to do so.

Cupcake's avatar

I had a child I couldn’t afford at the age of 16 (after being raped). I had considered abortion and then met a family to adopt him, but I ultimately kept him. Selfish? Maybe. I took it as an opportunity to rise to the challenge and become the parent that I wanted my son to be raised by. Sure we struggled. Sure his life was not optimal. But he has empathy, compassion, believes in working hard and being a moral person, and has a strong commitment to justice.

My parents have helped me a lot (financially, emotionally, baby sitting, etc.). I have lived in both my mother/step-father’s and father/step-mother’s houses rent-free. I have received government assistance with daycare so that I could finish high school and start college. I worked my way through college and still graduated a year ahead of time. I bought a fixer-upper house at the age of 21 and my parents, as well as a government grant, helped me fix it up.

I have paid my own rent/mortgage (when not living at my parents), utilities and food. While I financially qualified for public assistance/food stamps, I could not receive it because I refused to identify the biological father and receive child support (to prevent the possibility of visitation and the necessity of contact between us). Sometimes I was so overwhelmed by bills that I didn’t open them for a couple of months. I got behind in student loans and my property taxes. But I dug myself out of those holes on my own. I sent my son to private school for K – 3rd grade, for which he received partial tuition assistance.

I’m currently married, own two houses, have a teenage son and a baby on the way, and my husband and I are working on finishing off paying his credit card and student loan debt from before we got married (we’re getting close!) and am finishing my masters degree.

It hasn’t all been roses and I have received help, but when I could do it on my own – I did. I learned the value of working hard and providing for a family on my own. I taught my son morals and values and he is a fine young man. I am a better person for what I’ve been through, and, in many ways, he is too. He’s seen the struggle, he’s felt the love, he’s appreciative of all that has been provided for him. He will be someone who contributes great things to society.

This was not accidental, lack of planning, or lack of awareness of the true costs. I am not ignorant, uneducated or an idiot. I am a mother. And my son is the most amazing person I know. I am so lucky to know him so deeply and so proud of him and who he will become.

While I can kind-of understand the comments about ego, I think that for me… learning to be a parent has been a lesson in selflessness and putting the needs of others before mine (while still figuring out how to get my basic needs met too).

bkcunningham's avatar

@nikipedia, responding to an earlier post where you were responding to @Coloma by saying you were talking about the 99 percent who say, “I am the 99%” people who cannot provide food or healthcare for their children.” What income level would you be at in America to not qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid or other federal or state governmental assistance for food or medical care for children?

Jeruba's avatar

@wundayatta, did you mean to give us a different link, perhaps to an aggregate projection? Your link just goes to Afghanistan’s numbers, with a pulldown list of other countries. I don’t see totals.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Well, it’s either because most kids aren’t planned and some of those are kept or because we, as parents, know that there is nothing better in this world (and yes, we know about our finances) than to bring about another child. I know what I’ll be gaining if I have a child and yes, it’s selfish and no, I don’t care whether others approve. I can’t explain to you why it’s still better to be poor and with happy children (who don’t obsess about shit or money either) than to be ‘stable’ and childless. @tinyfaery Many people in the U.S. do not have access to education about birth control, birth control or to abortion.

tinyfaery's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir In the internet age, only the truly sheltered can say they didn’t know about birth control or how to get it.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@tinyfaery Many people don’t have access to the internet.

tinyfaery's avatar

or tv, or radio, a library, or other people? Please. A small, small, minority.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@tinyfaery I guess I’m talking about young people, mostly. I am also talking about those that do know about contraception but due to serious (and culture-correlated) sexism, they do not use condoms. There are a bunch of studies I read about where that’s the case. And these are the same communities with teenage pregnancies. And no, people who don’t have internet don’t necessarily have access to libraries either (since they’re being closed down in the poorert neighborhoods) or to TV (and when was there info on safe sex on TV?) and who owns a radio these days?

JilltheTooth's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir and @tinyfaery : I’ve been out on a Friday evening with friends, my eyes are older than yours, and what you’re both saying is very germane to this discussion. Stop whispering and speak up, girls! You both have very good points here!

nikipedia's avatar

@bkcunningham, do you mean to say that using government assistance counts as being able to provide for your children, or am I misunderstanding your question?

bkcunningham's avatar

If you need temporary help feeding your children or providing medical care for your children, there are programs available. I just didn’t understand how someone can say they couldn’t provide these things for their children when it is available. To me, that is what the programs are designed to do. Fill a gap in difficult times so children won’t suffer.

nikipedia's avatar

@bkcunningham, I certainly agree those programs should be available to anyone who needs them, but by definition, people who use them are unable to provide for their children.

bkcunningham's avatar

I understand, @nikipedia. I was just thinking that these programs are a way to provide for your children. My mind works differently sometimes. In my mind, if I had to go to a soup kitchen or a free clinic, it would still be a way for me to provide these things for my children.

Coloma's avatar

Well ya know, there really is NO new news under the sun.
4000 years ago there was primitive man that speared the Mastodon for his family and Grog that had lizard for dinner in the caveman ghetto. lol

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@Cupcake I had a child I couldn’t afford at the age of 16 (after being raped). I had considered abortion and then met a family to adopt him, but I ultimately kept him. Selfish? Maybe.

This was not accidental, lack of planning, or lack of awareness of the true costs. I am not ignorant, uneducated or an idiot. I am a mother. And my son is the most amazing person I know. I am so lucky to know him so deeply and so proud of him and who he will become.

Selfish! NO YOU WERE NOT! Those who didn’t have the moxie to stick it out and would punish the child for the crimes of the father were selfish.

If there was a Presidential level aware I could give, you would get it. You are an example that one need not be a victim of their circumstances if they focus on how to get the bus out of the ditch over how, or who drove the bus into the ditch. I have seen and known many women who had similar situations who gave up. Rather than fight, they sought refuge at the bottom of a bottle of whatever they could snort up their nose or inject into their veins. If you keep at it, as you have done, it is possible not only to get the bus out of the ditch but on straight and smooth highway. What you did from how far down you had to climb is no small feat. My hats off to you madam, you should serve as an example to any young lady who finds themselves in similar situation that the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t always an incoming train.

augustlan's avatar

[mod says] This is our Question of the Day!

bkcunningham's avatar

@Cupcake, I agree with @Hypocrisy_Central. I’m very proud of you. You should be very proud of your life.

Billy_Strauss's avatar

@Cupcake YOU ROCK GIRL!!!

You are a strong and powerful woman and surely a fabulous mother!

abysmalbeauty's avatar

I think the real question is, why don’t people try harder to provide for the children they’ve had? I get that not everyone is able to do this but for example I have a family member who doesn’t work (and is fully able to), collects state benefits, complains to me day and night about having no money to do anything or no way to provide for her daughter, cant pay her rent, and is currently pregnant with no way to provide for the next child. With all the energy she spends on complaining any time someone suggests she gets a j-o-b she makes the most ridiculous excuses I have ever heard, so all that is to say, she doesn’t even try to make the situation better.

Its very hard as a mother once you make that connection with the life inside you to let it go. Its not hard to fight to be able to provide for those you care about, that is what a parent is supposed to do. If you at least try then you’ve done something.

Luiveton's avatar

Because in the end, I guess they believe that god’s always there to sort it out in the end. Personally I think that it’s unfair to think that people who can afford to have children are allowed to indulge in the act meanwhile others who can’t afford to have children aren’t able to experience that amazing feeling of seeing your new baby come to life. Everyone deserves to have a child or two provided they’re not completely below the line of poverty. (Which is a comlpetely different story.)
Maybe it’s just a case of their inability to constantly purchase tools that prevent pregnancy; contraception pills, condoms and whatnot. Maybe they aren’t as educated as a person with different standards is so they’re oblivious to the fact that it might cause problems in the near future.
But basically, it’s the common thought of ‘if they do it, why shouldn’t I?’ when every individual thinks that their sole action won’t affect the world, they never actually consider the effect as a whole. So I guess it’s not about the money. It’s the thought that counts.

cazzie's avatar

I think this question is 2 dimensional in a 4 dimensional world. @Cupcake is a perfect example.

Hibernate's avatar

@abysmalbeauty there are parents that try their best but it’s not enough. I know a lot of parents who really love all their kids. they work 12+ hours per day yet they can’t provide all they want for the kids.

abysmalbeauty's avatar

@Hibernate I believe you missed my point. I don’t think most parents can provide all they want for their kids but those you mention at least try and i’m sure they have means to provide the basic necessities such as shelter and food. I’m speaking about parents who wouldn’t even consider putting in half that effort to provide for those basic needs.

I understand there are unforeseen issues that come up that really put parents in a bad situation and again you cant hold them at fault- at least they try. Its parents who would rather sit on their ass instead of trying to provide for their kids (operative word being trying) that I am talking about.

Hibernate's avatar

Well you use bold on the “trying harder part” so that why i said the reply above yours. But in that situation where they don’t try too much, well maybe some of them want to laze around sometimes. I’m not gonna defend them. Abortion or neglect are the same in my eyes [both are bad].

nikipedia's avatar

I just wanted to say thanks to everyone for keeping it civil on this post. I was pretty worried it was going to devolve quickly into stereotypes and name-calling, but you all kept it together and gave lots of great answers. So, thanks.

Hibernate's avatar

@nikipedia you are welcome.

nikipedia's avatar

Wow. It turns out that I am watching this exact situation unfold. I understand it a little better—if you don’t really have a career to speak of, it’s not much of a sacrifice to quit working and try to manipulate the dad into supporting you and the kid.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@nikipedia I’ve known a few men that have gotten themselves “suckered” into having a family by women that have purposely gotten pregnant to get taken care of financially.
What a hot mess!

Blackberry's avatar

Bitches….....

Just kidding :D

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