Should Finances Affect Family Planning?

Me, pregnant at 22 years old.

It seems like a silly thing to say, doesn’t it? All of those “What To Do Before Conceiving” lists specifically mention the financial preparation you should take. (And of which I didn’t do at all.)

But for me, “money” is specifically a concern about this next pregnancy — and I’m not alone. Lauren just reported that birth rates are down again this year, and at an all-time low for young 20-something women. And experts agree that the recession is the reason.

Yet on the other hand, I was reading a post over on the blog Tiny Blue Lines in which she argues against factoring in finances when it comes to having kids. Her argument is that there would never be any third, fourth, or fifth children if we were all so concerned with money — and a lot of people agree with her.

Chaunie’s main argument in How Many Kids is Too Many? is valid, especially for parents who want a large family. And I can understand her point of view since she became a young mother (like me) before she was financially stable (like me), and she’s now contemplating a third child (not like me). Where our stories differ is that she knew she wanted to build her family despite any and all obstacles, while those obstacles have stopped me dead in my tracks. I actually wrote a post here on Being Pregnant titled “I Was Barely Ready For One. Is It Responsible to Have Another?” and after much contemplation, I ended with “Maybe the more responsible decision is to question whether we, as parents, are ready — not whether our lives are ready. Because our lives will always shift, evolve, to make remove for the next one.”

And I think that’s what Chaunie is saying too. That you can never be really financially prepared for a baby, so it’s “scary,” as she said, to factor in finances when determining whether to grow your family. She’s tired of the assumption that “poor women” need to be more responsible with their childbearing. (*As Chaunie clarified in the comments, she thinks the best lessons come from within the family unit, not from money.)

But I can’t shake the basic need to consider money. Chaunie argues that kids don’t need special lessons, fancy colleges, or the best toys of the season, but that’s not why I’ve been hesitant about having more kids. It’s not because I want to give my son more “stuff,” but because I don’t want to struggle. For me, part of being a good mom is being the best mom I can be — not a stressed, overworked, check-bouncing mom that has trouble making ends meet. Not a mom that’s always fighting with dad about bills. When “money” is one of the top reasons for divorce, why knowingly add extra strain to my marriage? My husband and I were just discussing how difficult it would be if we had two children in daycare/nursery school right now — that would be well over $2,000 a month in daycare fees alone. For us, spacing them out a little bit works better for us, considering our unexpectedly early start to parenting.

Am I over-thinking this?

Of course every family is different, but it’s always interesting for me to see the different priorities and perspectives. I’m sure Chaunie is right in that things tend to work out on the financial front, but for me, there’s a difference between unexpectedly getting pregnant and knowingly making that choice. And that’s where I’m stuck. What about you? How much did finances affect your family planning?

 

Check out Babble’s 10 Money-Saving Tips for Families!

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