Friday, February 16, 2007

Children from PURELY a Financial View

I'm pondering the minds of a certain subset of people. Certain married couples. Specifically I'm wondering about the two-income married couples where one half makes a livable income. By livable, I mean that one income alone could support the family. I suppose even more specifically, I wonder about these sorts of couples who have small children. To make references easier, I will refer to these people as "Questionable" couples. And in this blog post, I speak ONLY about these people, not couples who are in dire financial straits and need a second job, or women who go back to work after their kids are all in school, or whatever other situations there are. I speak mainly of Questionable mothers who dash back to work after maternity leave.

Speaking *purely* from a heartless financial standpoint, having children is pointless. Think about it. First, the mother has to go get pre-natal checkups every now and then. This means co-pays when you go to the doctor's office. Then you have the baby, which means more co-pay, or at least paying someone, unless the husband delivers the baby. But afterwards, the doctor's visits only increase, which means more and more co-pays. There is one more mouth to feed, as well as crying mouths to quiet. Sleep is probably lost too, possibly resulting in lower quality job performance. For Questionable couples, the wife goes right back to work when her maternity leave runs out, and so childcare must be found. If relatives do not live in town, childcare might come in the form of daycare, which, I gather, is not cheap.

For women in Questionable couples who go right back to work, this is unfathomable to me. Why...would you have something that costs you so much money if you're not going to want to raise them yourself? It just doesn't make sense, if one is pursuing material goods in life. Again, speaking *PURELY* from an financial standpoint, children are quite a risky investment. You sink lots and lots of money into them, to find that one day that might not ever call you or care about you. If you are lucky, you will have good kids that will take care of you in your old age. Compound all these costs and risks when more children are had.

Purely from a financial view, I do not see why these Questionable people have children. It seems as though the wife works because she needs to contribute to household income. But then she has to pay for childcare, so she has to work. Effectively, she works to put the children in childcare all day, and maybe a bit of pocket money when the childcare bills are paid. Unless of course, the wife makes a gigantic salary.

There's a woman in my office who is in her 30's, married to a firefighter/EMT, with three daughters (elementary age, pre-school age, and toddler). Before I got married, I told her that even if Harmony did get a job outside the home (of course, she did not), we would only budget off of my salary; whatever Harmony made would go towards paying off my student loan or something. Surprisingly, she said that that is what they did...budget off husband's salary. This woman is a couple levels higher on the foodchain than I am, so was her probably-much-bigger-than-mine salary going towards toys and gadgets every month? Could they really solely live off a firefighter's salary? Probably not anymore, since a few months later, they moved into a $400,000+ house. Seems as though they took a liking to the two-income approach. This lady would complain from time to time about how the daycare wasn't doing things right, or how she worked because otherwise her kids would drive her crazy. She commented once that she had "lots of kids" and that she was "always pregnant." She commented once "I just can't get used to the idea of a wife not working...my mom always worked." It's okay Miss, you don't need to get used to it, because you can do whatever you want and it doesn't concern me.

Don't think that I actually buy into all the cynical stuff I've been saying. I know there's much more to life than material pursuits. I know there's much more to children than their financial returns. I merely presented a conjecture made to illustrate how much I don't understand these Questionable married couples with children. Why don't they just get a dog? Or breed dogs? Or just pretend like they have kids?

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10 have poured out their souls in electronic text:

  • Myfriendconnie

    I agree! When we had our first baby, I did what every sensible woman did...went back to work. I had never given a second thought to staying home because I made more than my husband. I never realized how ridiculous it was until I began leaving my brand new baby all day to be cared for by someone else while I taught other people's children long division. That was the most excruciating year of my life! We finally made adjustments so I could stay home, and the Lord has blessed us more than we could have imagined!

    I truly believe so many people never consider staying home as an option. I wish it would be discussed more openly, but that might make someone uncomfortable, so I guess it would not be politically correct. (Never mind the effect it has on the abandoned child!)

  • Myfriendconnie

    FYI: The other day my husband asked, "What are you reading?" When I responded, "Junk Male," He said, "I told you *NEVER* to read junk mail!!!! That is how worms and viruses get onto our computer!!!"

    Me: "HUH?"

    Him: (continuing to freak out) "Opening junk mail exposes our computer to viruses!! I have told you that before!!"

    Me: "NO! m-a-l-e, not m-a-i-l."

    Him: (sheepishly) "oh, ok"

  • JunkMale


    With every passing time I hear stories like your's (went back to work after baby's born, experience was nightmarish), it further and further cements the thought in my mind that women need to be with their children. Sometimes circumstances make it impossible, but most of the time (??), people just assume that it has to be that way.

    Haha about making people uncomfortable. With the stuff I put on here, I'm sure I'd make lots of people uncomfortable.

  • CappuccinoLife

    I would bet those Questionable couples would argue that they *are* raising their own children (and take offense that you imply otherwise, of course). Quality time, not quantity, you know. ;) Maybe bedtime stories and tucking the kids in and being home at night while they're asleep qualifies as "raising"?

  • Headmistress, zookeeper

    My mother went back to work when I was six weeks old. I'm 44, and she's still working. Her reasons had to do more with fear and financial irresponsibility on the part of my dad (both connected, obviously), but still.
    My folks had three kids. One of my brothers and I both homeschool, and he made sure his wife could stay home with the kids once they had them. My husband I had our first child right away and we weren't nearly as financially prepared as my brother (who made his wife wait seven years to have kids)- but we didn't care. We knew we'd make whatever sacrifices it took for me to stay home.
    Our third brother is childless by choice, single by choice, and an atheist (also not altogether unrelated).

    My brothers and I have never talked about it much, but I remember my daycare situations, and I knew I would never do that to my kids. I knew that when I was quite small, too, and until after I graduated my mother was still telling people that she worked outside the home and it hadn't been at all bad for the children. I love my mom and she has a billion and one good qualities- but she knew this wasn't true when she said it. She *knew* my first sitter was abusive.

    People need to deceive themselves, I think.

    If you determine before the children come along that leaving them with somebody else for regular daycare is simply not an option, then I think it's much easier. Others just think, "We'll see," and without a plan, they don't succeed.

  • JunkMale


    I think among my first memories is one of being put in a daycare or pre-school (don't remember which). I have NO idea why my mom did this, since she didn't work. Maybe she thought I needed the socialization? ;)

    Anyways, one of the few memories of that place was crying and crying and crying and wanting my mom. I think the lady looking after me and my crying finally got fed up and left me to cry on the time-out bench, where some other little girl took to comforting me. I remember trying to hatch a plan to escape from there (this plan consisted of running out the front door when it was briefly opened for whatever reason). I do remember eventually getting used to it, but I still felt very insecure. My mom says I never cried much at all as a little kid, but she must've not seen me there.

    Yes, I agree that lots of people do need to deceive themselves, whether it's about kids in daycare, or second incomes (and the two most certainly are related).

  • Anonymous

    Judge much? I thought you Christian types were supposed to "love thy neighbor as thyself." Must be harder to walk the walk than to talk the talk, eh?

  • JunkMale

    Loving thy neighbor as thyself doesn't mean accepting everything that society does. I can love my neighbor and still be constructively critical. Am I mistaken?

  • JunkMale

    Oh, and I forgot one thing. The Bible says that with the measure I use to judge others, I will be judged in that same manner. So if I do judge, I try not to hold people to higher standards than I hold myself.

  • Tammy L

    Good thoughts (you guys write a great blog, btw!).

    People love that second income... I'm not really sure it amounts to much once you figure in extra taxes, a second vehicle, formula and child care, and no time to do certain things that save money, but... at least some people are honest and just say "I like my job, I can't stand my kids, blah blah blah..." Much better than those who say "Oh, if only I could be a stay-at-home mom..." :P