I saw this post on WiseBread called “Can you afford to have a baby?” and I thought I’d blog about my own opinion.
Now, that post doesn’t come out and say that you should wait until a certain point to have kids — it merely gives things to consider during your pre-children years.
I’m probably going to ruffle some feathers in saying this, but I don’t think you should base your decision on whether to have a child on your finances. You’re welcome to respectfully disagree with me.
As much as many of us would like, we simply cannot “pencil in” having children on our calendars. For some, pregnancies are a total surprise. Or, some of us might decide to try to get pregnant and find ourselves with a positive test result just a few weeks later. For others, that day may never come. Babies might not come when they’re “convenient” for all involved, but I can tell you one thing — babies are born exactly when they need to be.
I’m due with our first baby on December 30 (plus or minus a few weeks, of course). With my due date so close to the new year, it’s possible he’ll be born in 2009. Sure, it would be nice to have an ’08 baby for tax purposes, but if it doesn’t work out that way, we’ll be fine with that. He’ll likely be born around one of the busiest times of the year at my husband’s work. Oh, well.
And yes, it stinks that we won’t be able to travel to Indiana for Thanksgiving or Christmas this year. But you know what? That’s ok with us! It’s a great reason not to travel. I’m sorry my due date is inconvenient for some, but it works for my baby, Shane and me, and everyone else can just deal with it :).
I’ve even had people tell me, “Oh, I hope he’s not born on Christmas. That would be terrible.” Are you kidding me? Who better to share a birthday with than Jesus?
When we announced that we were expecting, we caught some grief from some family. We were told that we should have waited until we were older, had more money, had more work experience, lived closer to family, etc. etc. It was incredibly upsetting and insulting to hear.
Of course it would be nice if we had no debt right now. Or if we lived less than 8 hours from the grandparents. But we’re fine and we’re going to be fine. It’s not like I would tell my baby, “Oh, sorry son. I’d rather be in a better financial situation than be your mommy.”
If people wait until they’re in the “perfect” situation to have children, those children might never be born. I wasn’t born at an ideal time for my folks, but I’m really glad I was born when I was. God had picked my birthday for a reason. If I was born just a few days or so later, I would have started school a year later, as I was born right near the cutoff date. That would have affected everyone I’d ever meet. I would have started college later, and perhaps wouldn’t have met my husband when I did.
So ask yourself, were you born at the “wrong” time? Do you wish your parents waited until they had more money or lived in a bigger house or had some other situation going on? Maybe you’ve had a particularly hard life, and if that’s the case, I’m sorry. But I’m willing to bet that most people are glad to be alive — no matter their circumstances.
For people who want to have children when it’s most convenient to them, I have to ask, “Have you met a baby before? Because nothing about babies are convenient.” Babies don’t care if you haven’t slept more than two hours in months. They want fed now. They want changed now. They want cuddled now. They don’t care if you have an important meeting at work. They get sick at random, inconvenient times. They have explosive diapers in public when you find yourself without an extra outfit for them. It’s the way of the baby. “Convenience” isn’t part of the deal.
We can’t always know why babies are born when they are. But God knows. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a profit to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5 NKJV).
So who in the world do we think we are, to get in the way of God’s plan?
I’m not saying we shouldn’t try to give our children the best circumstances possible. Yes, we should be good with our finances. We should pay off our debts and increase our savings. We should buy life insurance policies. We should save for retirement. If that means that we need to make sacrifices in other areas (maybe not taking vacations, downgrading our lifestyles, being total tightwads) then that’s what we need to do.
But these financial things shouldn’t be deal-breakers. If you’re in debt but desperately would like to have children, why should that stop you? Perhaps you can turn your focus to building up your savings rather than paying down debt at the present time. You can likely pay down debt later. Can you have kids later? It’s hard to say.
Being a good parent doesn’t necessarily mean being debt-free. It doesn’t necessarily mean having a lot of money in the bank, or a four-bedroom house, or a great career. In fact, I don’t think the ability to be a good parent has anything to do with those things. Wealthy people can be total morons with their children, and broke people can be the best parents a child could ever hope for. It depends on a variety of factors.
Children don’t need fancy clothes, a roomful of toys, or 529 plans. They need attention and love. If you will provide those things, then don’t let some financial planner tell you when you should have kids. It’s not up to them, anyway.