When I was growing up, my mom, who was the second to the youngest in a family of nine children, was fond of two sayings when it came to the topic of having children.
The first saying was, “All kids really need is love.” The second saying was, “God will provide.”
When you are young, your parents influence your thoughts, and what you hear and learn from them becomes your normal.
I did truly believe that all kids really need is love. Now, my husband and I have three kids of our own, and while we love them plenty, that isn’t enough. Unless you have a high paying corporate or professional job, more often the decision as to how many kids to have depends on what kind of financial situation you are willing to have.
Living Expenses Grow As The Kids Grow
As our kids grow, I am amazed at how much they can eat!
Our oldest child is nearly eight, and he can eat as much as my husband and I do. Because we have food intolerances and prefer to feed our family a healthy plant based diet with meat at some meals, couponing doesn’t really work for us. I am spending $500 to $600 a month for groceries. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), each month shares the average amount people spend for food. They break this average down into four levels, the lowest being “thrifty”, the highest being “liberal.” Following a “thrifty” plan, our family of five’s food expenses should be approximately $677.50 per month. If we followed the “liberal” food plan, our expenses would be $1,318.90. (USDA)
While love is important, it is not putting food on the table every month.
As my children grow older, more and more I feel the pinch in the wallet when buying groceries. True, God has provided, and we have never gone hungry, but getting ahead financially does get more difficult the more children that you have.
More Is Expected of Parents Today
When my mom was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, most high school students graduated from high school and began to work. Some never graduated from high school and instead dropped out and began working. In fact, in the late 1960s, only approximately 11% of those ages 25 or older had obtained a bachelor’s degree. Now, as recently as 2009, nearly 30% of those ages 25 or older had obtained a bachelor’s degree. (Wikipedia)
In my mom’s youth, parents weren’t expected to pay the tab for their child’s higher education, in part because most children never attended college. Now, a college degree is becoming more and more important, and while some parents cannot afford to pay part or all of their child’s tuition, their children are often saddled with student loan debt.
We Are More Spoiled Than Previous Generations
Thanks to the rise in two income families, many of us experience luxuries that weren’t available to our parents such as yearly vacations to exotic locations, and even the daily use of technology such as iPhones for parents and cell phones for kids.
These expenses weren’t part of the financial scene 40 years ago.
Now, rather than viewing the extras in life as extras, we view them as necessities, which make our expenses climb.
Societal Changes Have Affected the Way We Raise Our Kids
When my mom was young, she and her brothers and sisters played outside, often unsupervised. They roamed the neighborhood all day long riding bikes, going to the park and playing games. Because most mothers were home, all of the moms, collectively as a group were able to keep tabs on the kids.
However, parents didn’t worry as much then about dangers that may arise.
Now, many families have two parents that work, so kids must go to afterschool programs. If they are home after school, most parents don’t allow their children to roam the neighborhood and play freely. Instead, children get their exercise by enrolling in various extracurricular sports teams, which cost money.
So, too, when a child has a birthday party now, instead of a simple affair at the child’s home, parents shell out several hundred dollars to have the party at a local play area or bowling alley or gym.
In many areas of life, societal changes have influenced what parents are expected to do (and pay) for their children.
I am glad that my grandparents had nine children.
While I, myself, only had one brother, I was always surrounded by many cousins my age, and even today I take great pleasure in being part of such a large extended family.
However, the simplistic thought that love is all a child needs I now recognize as false.
I love my three children and am so glad to have them. However, by choosing to have more than the typical two kids most families have, we have given up some financial freedom. Financially, we will probably continue to struggle while our kids are home with us. We have had to say no to our son more times than we would like, and he is still learning why his friends can have things that we cannot financially afford.
Ultimately, the decision as to how many kids to have is a personal one. Kids enrich their parents lives in many ways, and it is a pleasure to raise them (though admittedly a struggle sometimes too). However, as much as I may not like it, there is no denying that finances do play a role in the decision of how many kids to have.