Kids: Really really expensive.

Sounds about right.

About Jill

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
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383 Responses to Kids: Really really expensive.

  1. TomSims says:

    Yes that is very true.

  2. Katniss says:

    It’s low on the list but it’s definitely one of the many reasons I’m never planning on having kids. Then again I’m of the basic opinion that it’s never anyone’s business to call into questions someone’s reasons for not having kids, so any reason seems valid to me.

    • (BFing)Sarah says:

      I think its interesting to hear the reasons, which are all valid, but I never ask to hear them. If someone is going to volunteer the reasons, so be it. I agree that its not okay to ask. There are a thousand reasons why not to have kids and they all make sense to me. And I have two kids…

  3. er says:

    We were shocked to crunch the numbers and discovered we were spending almost $30K on preschool, aftercare and summer care alone (2 kids). This does not include any other child-related expenses (clothes, food, gear, etc).

  4. Donna L says:

    The article really, really irked me. If you don’t want kids, don’t have kids. But there’s something of the “rich people complaining” aspect to the article that bothers me. The woman who wrote this article happens to be someone who very much *can* afford children. Nobody says you have to spend $1.7 million to give your child a “comfortable” life, unless “comfortable” means European vacations every year and the most expensive private schools and summer camps.

    And I also have to say: if you’re going to make a decision entirely based on costs and benefits, this article is all about the costs, with nothing whatsoever about the benefits. And I don’t mean having someone to take care of you in your old age.

    • Kara says:

      Eh, if you are living in the urban northeast (NYC or Boston), not cutting your kids off financially as soon as they turn 18, and also taking into account the wage hit that a mother takes (all of which the author took into account) then that $1.7 million figure starts to look pretty realistic.

      And, as someone pointed out in the comments on that piece, $1.7 million can be a downright bargain if you are looking at the costs associated with a special needs (severely autistic, say) child.

      • EG says:

        Given that Donna is living in NYC and has a son, I think she’s pretty well aware of the financial costs.

    • sabrina says:

      I agree with Donna. Furthermore I found her whole attitude to be extremely condescending especially to those of us who spend massive amounts of money to try and even bring children into this world. What people need to understand is that having or not having children is not something that NYT journalists gets to tell us about. It is something which we can and should come to a conclusion about without being shamed for our choices

      • Beatrice says:

        Good thing she didn’t tell you what you should do, but wrote what she considers best for herself.

    • EG says:

      I agree completely. Yet another article in a prominent publication by an affluent white woman justifying her decision whether or not to have children as somehow representative of an objectively “rational” choice, and one that the rest of us need to hear about.

      I’m about to go over the yearly coverage cap in my prescription insurance by a couple thousand dollars and very worried about whether or not I’m going to be able to have children, realistically. Not because oh no, 1.7 million imaginary dollars and owning a home and a comfortable retirment, but because how would I afford health coverage for my child when I’m not able to afford my own health expenses. Thinking about that brings tears to my eyes. I don’t give a shit about this woman’s whining that most people don’t even consider her “prudent” decision.

      I mean seriously:

      Saving money and paying down debt is even harder when earnings have diminished and expenses have increased because of the addition of a new stakeholder who is now the most important priority.

      My family is not a company. Children are not stakeholders. If finances are pressuring you or burdening you, that’s one thing; but if you just don’t want to have children, own that. It’s a valid feeling! But being handed a check for 1.7 million dollars wouldn’t make it “right” for someone who doesn’t want children to have them, and the costs of having a kid won’t make it right for someone who does want them not to have them

      • Beatrice says:

        If finances are pressuring you or burdening you, that’s one thing; but if you just don’t want to have children, own that. It’s a valid feeling!

        So thinking of having babies either gives you warm fuzzies or doesn’t, and it’s not something a woman can weigh pros and cons for?

        Yeah, simply not wanting children is a valid feeling. Sort of being somewhere in the middle and then, after considering your options, deciding (due to, for example, financial reasons) that no, children aren’t for you is also a valid feeling.

      • EG says:

        Yes, wanting to have children is just about having warm fuzzies when you think of babies. Very accurate, and not at all demeaning.

        Go ahead, weigh pros and cons. But for major life decisions, I strongly suspect most people come out with the decision they want in their gut, and then look for the justifications that make sense. Seriously, can you imagine an article written by someone who doesn’t really want kids, but is convinced to do so by some kind of, I don’t know, concern about eldercare? That would sound stupid, right? Well, that’s just how stupid the idea that whether or not you have kids is based on affording a comfortable retirement sounds to me.

        When I see article after article written by affluent white women about not having kids is just the most reasonable choice–as though people who want/have children just never thought of it this way before–I’m going to call condescending bullshit. Trust me, affluent white lady writing for the NYT, you haven’t tumbled to a massive secret that other people haven’t realized. We know that having kids is costly. That tells me the issue isn’t about reasonableness of the pros and cons, but about justifying a decision ex post facto.

      • Fat Steve says:

        When I see article after article written by affluent white women about not having kids is just the most reasonable choice–as though people who want/have children just never thought of it this way before–I’m going to call condescending bullshit. Trust me, affluent white lady writing for the NYT, you haven’t tumbled to a massive secret that other people haven’t realized. We know that having kids is costly. That tells me the issue isn’t about reasonableness of the pros and cons, but about justifying a decision ex post facto.

        Pray tell, what offends you so much about someone being comfortable with a decision they’ve made?

      • Donna L says:

        Pray tell, what offends you so much about someone being comfortable with a decision they’ve made?

        Are you seriously suggesting that you think the author is talking only about her own situation, and that you don’t see how condescending she’s being?

        Even though she actually says that “many” people “don’t usually consider” that children are really expensive and that not having them would save money? What an amazing revelation!

        Even though she says that it’s “rather prudent” to opt out of parenthood for financial reasons?

      • Fat Steve says:

        Are you seriously suggesting that you think the author is talking only about her own situation, and that you don’t see how condescending she’s being?

        Even though she actually says that “many” people “don’t usually consider” that children are really expensive and that not having them would save money? What an amazing revelation!

        Even though she says that it’s “rather prudent” to opt out of parenthood for financial reasons?

        Surely that is sound advice for someone who values financial reward over the spiritual/personal rewards of raising a child. For someone who has the reverse priorities the article should be irrelevant.

      • EG says:

        I think I’ve made it clear what offends me about the article, Steve. It’s what has offended me about this whole genre of articles: the implicit assumption (not even implicit here–as Donna points out, the author says that the financial aspect of having children just doesn’t occur to “many” people who have them) that the author is the first person to ever tumble to this massive concern about having kids, that people with kids just never considered this, and that therefore, her personal inclination happens to be the correct one (isn’t that convenient) and she is here to enlighten us poor benighted fools.

        It’s the problem with most first-person NYT articles, which is that some rich white people think their personal conclusions are somehow worth of note in the newspaper of record.

        I’m also annoyed by her bitching about she just doesn’t know with her two-income, writing-for-the-NYT household whether or not she and her partner will be able to have a comfortable retirement, when I’m trying to figure out where to get enough meds to see me through the end of the year. When the financial burden of having children is actually a–perhaps the–major obstacle to you doing it, despite the fact that you’ve wanted children passionately your whole life, yeah, well, I am fucking irritated with and don’t have much time for someone acting like she’s the first person ever to note that kids cost money, so, hey, she’s just not going to have them and buy a house instead.

      • EG says:

        Even though she actually says that “many” people “don’t usually consider” that children are really expensive and that not having them would save money? What an amazing revelation!

        No, Steve, the part and tone of the piece that Donna is referencing here is not sound advice for anybody. It’s condescending bullshit implying that the writer, rich white woman that she is, is the first person ever to have noticed that having children costs a bunch of money–why, I hope this article can reach those blind fools!

        Tell me, in what universe are people considering becoming parents not aware that children take up financial resources?

      • Fat Steve says:

        No, Steve, the part and tone of the piece that Donna is referencing here is not sound advice for anybody. It’s condescending bullshit implying that the writer, rich white woman that she is, is the first person ever to have noticed that having children costs a bunch of money–why, I hope this article can reach those blind fools!

        Tell me, in what universe are people considering becoming parents not aware that children take up financial resources?

        You can choose to read a condescending tone, but it’s your choice. If someone writes an article about how you can save money by cooking at home, I don’t think ‘Oh my god! They don’t know that I’ve already considered that before I go out to dinner?’
        This is just another example of Jill posting an article by a woman who indicates that she is happy with the decision that she’s made, and commenters just line up to say how horrible it is that she’s proud of her decision. I’m sorry, but if you have a problem with someone being proud of their choice then you are saying they should be ashamed of their choice.

      • Donna L says:

        Plus the condescending b.s. pointed out below by Past My Expiration Date:

        MOST people want to be sure that they can buy and pay for a home, save up for an emergency fund and enjoy a comfortable retirement. They will go to great lengths to meet those goals, and they make life choices accordingly.

        “Most” people can’t afford to save enough money for any of those things, let alone all three of them, even if they don’t have children.

        Not to mention that owning a home was never, ever in my entire life something I aspired to or cared about.

      • EG says:

        You can choose to read a condescending tone, but it’s your choice. If someone writes an article about how you can save money by cooking at home

        Does that writer say that he/she thinks that “many” people just haven’t considered the cost of eating out? Because if so, yes, that writer is being a fucking idiot.

        Whenever some nitwit rambles on about how poor people would do better nutritionally and financially if they would just cook rice and beans at home, I do note that they’re being condescending idiots who aren’t looking at the real world, and acting as though poor people just haven’t thought of cooking at home. Poor people are not too stupid to consider cooking at home and make a choice that best fits their circumstances, and people who want children aren’t so stupid that they never noticed that kids cost money.

        I’m a very good reader, Steve. It’s what I do for a living. I’m not reading shit “into” the piece. If the tone doesn’t bother you, that’s nice for you, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there.

      • bleh says:

        I do get warm fuzzies around other people’s children. Chose not to have my own because of cons for the planet. Not emotional at all.

      • Alyson says:

        Yes, and the notion above that most people make the “to procreate or not to procreate?” decision with their GUT is a little offensive to me. My decision that I don’t want kids is partially environmental, partially financial, and partially because my partner has a chronic illness which is sometimes hereditary. If we somehow become rich, we could adopt, but then there’s the fact that upon analyzing my personality, I think I’d be a terrible mother, and I don’t want to put anyone through that. Ultimately, the factors here are logical ones.

      • EG says:

        But the question is, where do you start from? Do you start from “I deeply, deeply want children and always have, but, given these logical factors, I won’t,” or do you start from “I could go either way and don’t have strong feelings, so, in considering these logical factors, I won’t.” Because that is a gut feeling, and it affects whether or not those logical factors matter.

      • WL says:

        Every decision starts from somewhere, of course. How much people weight give to emotions vs logic varies from person to person and decision to decision.

        And to Alyson, I had a similar problem regarding parenting ability–I really wanted to have kids, but I realized it wouldn’t be fair for them to have a parent like me. Someday I might undergo therapy to change that, but I’m not ready for that now and it’s not a high priority. It’s sad how most people don’t think about their potential children’s potential feelings the way you do. Plenty of people who would be terrible parents end up as…terrible parents, instead of non-parents or better people who end up being good parents.

        As for adoption, that’s much cheaper than having a biological child if you’re not picky about needing a Caucasian, newborn, perfectly healthy-in-every-way baby with no siblings to adopt together. Going through for-profit adoption agencies who want to sell you those “perfect” white infants or kidnapped foreign kids will cost you a TON, I know.

        Going through the state for waiting kids–who aren’t white but as healthy or healthier than your average kid raised by bio parents, who have mild-to-severe impairments/delays/disabilities, who are older than the “innocent little baby angels” or young toddlers, who have siblings they would be heartbroken to be torn from, etc–usually costs you nothing. The state will pay for any attorney fees etc. Often they will subsidize your childcare even after adoption is finalized, such as by cash for food, health care, etc.

        For kids with any type of health issue, it’s likely you’ll get even more financial help.

        As a personal note about sibling groups, when my brother and I endured enough abuse that we considered the risks of the state/foster system, we decided against reporting the abuse. Why? Because more than anything else–foster parents or group homes that might be more abusive than our current situation, being given back and enduring extra violence as retaliation for reporting, etc–we were afraid we wouldn’t be able to live with each other any more. We were afraid they would separate us. So we stayed.

      • EG says:

        Going through the state for waiting kids–who aren’t white but as healthy or healthier than your average kid raised by bio parents, who have mild-to-severe impairments/delays/disabilities, who are older than the “innocent little baby angels” or young toddlers, who have siblings they would be heartbroken to be torn from, etc–usually costs you nothing.

        Yes, why don’t more people who want to have a baby decide to adopt teenagers? It’s a mystery. Surely, if you want to have a baby, there could be no difference between that experience and taking a fifteen-year-old who may or may not have significant problems of the kind you have no experience with in your family into your home. And there’s no reason on earth that anybody could have a preference for a biologically related kid, or have an interest in wanting to experience pregnancy or childbirth.

        How much people weight give to emotions vs logic varies from person to person and decision to decision.

        Logic only matters if you’re working toward an emotionally satisfying end. Otherwise it’s not an exercise with any point. We’ve had this discussion quite recently.

      • Lolagirl says:

        But, EG, we’re supposed to realize how much more enlightened and environmentally friendly it is to just adopt a child instead of having our own. See also, you selfish cow, you should learn to simply accept your lot in life if you can’t get pregnant the old fashioned way in order to become a parent.

      • WL says:

        Yes, why don’t more people who want to have a baby …

        If you want a BABY, and not a person, then go interact with babies. A newborn won’t be a baby any more, faster than some people think. So after a year or few, are these people who “wanted a baby” going to throw out the now-non-baby child? (Sadly, there are some people who are like that…I hope you aren’t though.)

        Surely, if you want to have a baby, there could be no difference between that experience and taking a fifteen-year-old …

        There’s a difference between having a white baby and a Chinese baby, a 1-day-old baby and a 3-day-old baby. There’s a difference between having a newborn white baby and hir identical twin! Every baby is unique, and if you’ve never even met the baby before, what exactly do you love about hir?

        Apparently you don’t know the difference between “and” and “or.” Waiting kids might be young and African-American, they might be white and 15 years old, or any combination of traits that make them not “instant purchases.” If you want a kid who is newborn, AND white, AND perfectly healthy, AND have no developmental delays, etc…well I sure hope you don’t have a biological kid. What will you do with it if, after a few months, s/he turns out to have a developmental delay? Give it to the state?

        …who may or may not have significant problems of the kind you have no experience with in your family into your home.

        Exactly my point. So every parent who has a biological child diagnosed with a problem should have the child taken away, unless their previously-born children already had that problem? Yikes.

        And there’s no reason on earth that anybody could have a preference for a biologically related kid, or have an interest in wanting to experience pregnancy or childbirth.

        VHEMT listed plenty. But sure, some people are too racist, xenophobic, weak to parents’ pressures, etc…and these are prioritized over love and morals. I hope that as our culture changes, people will understand that loving and caring about family members is more important than eugenics and skin color.

        Logic only matters if you’re working toward an emotionally satisfying end. Otherwise it’s not an exercise with any point.

        Emotionally satisfying for who, the genetic elitists? There can be many reasons for engaging in logical thought, and being supremely selfish isn’t the only one.

        We’ve had this discussion quite recently.

        Where?

        See also, you selfish cow, you should learn to simply accept your lot in life if you can’t get pregnant the old fashioned way in order to become a parent.

        No one should do something just because they’re physically able, nor should they be considered at a disadvantage because they’re not physically able.

        The whole emphasis on “pregnant the old fashioned way” hurts not only children, but infertile couples and everyone affected. It’s no different from being able to be “pretty the old fashioned way” or trying to imitate it (have you seen some of the extreme, dangerous, painful, expensive cosmetic surgeries some perfectly healthy young girls subject themselves to?).

        Also, I think RPA got it right that so long as speciesism exists, so will injustice within a species.

      • zuzu says:

        Yet another article in a prominent publication by an affluent white woman

        Affluent, I’ll grant you. But how do you know she’s white?

    • Meaghan says:

      These were my feelings exactly when I read this. Is it me or does 14k or 27k not sound like THAT much for the cost of raising a child? I mean you’d pay more for a car.

  5. Kara says:

    There is a response piece to this article in the NYT’s Motherload blog – “The Benefit, in Dollars, of Raising a Child

    • robotile says:

      I’m embarrassed to admit we literally spent $24,000 to $32,000 a year eating out. Now that we have a baby, that number has dropped dramatically. So the added cost of childcare has basically been balanced out by not eating out as much.
      So, yeah, there are economic costs and benefits to both child-ful and child-free living and the author isn’t tallying the former fairly.

      • WL says:

        I think that’s not a benefit from having kids, but a benefit from having different priorities. Kids may or may not shift spending priorities. Having kids is absolutely NOT necessary to have different spending priorities. That article makes it sound like doing things like eating expensive meals is NECESSARY if you don’t have children.

        Ever since I read http://www.nytimes.com/library/magazine/home/19990905mag-poverty-singer.html I felt guilty about spending on luxuries, although my family has less of those than most people I know. Maybe I should include that in “the economic costs and benefits of reading or not reading philosophy articles”?

  6. pheenobarbidoll says:

    Jesus…if it took 1.7 million to raise a kid mine would have been screwed.

    • (BFing)Sarah says:

      LOL. Yup. My kids are clearly screwed. They sure look like they are suffering right now (as they play happily after eating a nice meal).

    • Henry says:

      yeah we’re opting out of all the bullshit. no 5K a year summer camps, no 3K birthday parties, public school in a medium ranked school district where we can almost afford a house. it’s not that hard if you don’t engage in the keeping up with the neighbors mentality.

      • (BFing)Sarah says:

        And your children, I’m sure, are suffering. They are practically abused! No 3K summer camp?! No BMW on their 16th birthday???!! Hand me down clothes?! How will they possible LIVE?! Won’t someone PLEASE think of the CHILDREN!

        Seriously, though, kids are expensive. And expense is a valid reason not to have kids. But what is “necessary” in one income bracket sometimes sounds pretty ridiculous and materialistic to me.

      • WL says:

        I don’t think a fair, non-abusive education is about keeping up with neighbors. I think it’s about caring about the lives and wellbeing of children. It’s nothing like a BMW or designer clothes.

      • (BFing)Sarah says:

        Wait. You are not implying that public school is abusive education, are you?

      • WL says:

        The fact that it’s public, no. There are plenty of public schools that are less abusive than plenty of private schools.

        Most formal education systems are abusive, physically and psychologically harmful, and warp kids’ personalities (not for the better). It’s because this culture takes it for granted that relatively few people see it (or even think to look at it).

      • (BFing) Sarah says:

        No offense…but what about that statement is on topic? The author of the piece being discussed did not say she isn’t having kids b/c she is going to pay 1.7 million dollars for a non-abusive, non-formal education (whatever that might be). She said that she wasn’t having children because they were expensive and to give them “the best” of everything she would have to spend gobs of money. I agree children are expensive and that its a valid reason to not want to have children. However, I don’t really spend gobs of money because we don’t chose to do so and it isn’t hurting my children. Henry said something along those lines, which I agree with, and I responded in a joking manner that I’m sure that his children were suffering. Then you responded something about non-abusive, non-formal education? I’m confused about the relevance.

      • WL says:

        If we’re only supposed to talk about what she wrote she was factoring in (which did mention school-related expenses) AND gave an explanation for, and not allowed to talk about related things or reply to each other, most of these comments would be boring.

        Most people have NO idea of all the things they’re doing, by action or omission, that are hurting their children. And the adults around them, including spouses/partners. And the non-humans around them. That’s not saying they’re stupid or bad-intentioned, but that the research on this isn’t well-known, and people are stuck in the mindsets passed down from their parents and their entire culture. I’d say most of these people have warm, loving, caring, generous personalities, deeply held moral beliefs, and do a lot for their kids within their abilities–and none of that is negated by, nor does it negate, the truth.

        http://www.informationliberation.com/?id=11375 is relatively short and free (I otherwise would recommend other authors over him). Someone typed up an old speech this guy gave. You might want to skim it and see if your schools are explained by any of his points.

        And yes, children do suffer from abusive schools. No, not getting a BWM isn’t abuse. My point was, there is a difference.

  7. Andie says:

    But think of all the money you’re saving by not going out to museums and parties and concerts and nightclubs and having drinks with friends and such when you’re only having 30% as much fun!

  8. konkonsn says:

    I do like reading articles that affirm my choice not to have children as I am currently in a place where most people assume I will. And maybe articles like this help women who are constantly asked, “Why won’t you have kiiiiiiiiiiids?” because they can point to the facts presented and that there are others with their mindset.

    At the same time, it does reinforce the notion that most young, affluent people would choose not to have children if they just really, really thought about it (like people who have kids just aren’t thinking).

    It’s actually kind of funny because it’s really backwards in my family. I don’t want kids just because I don’t feel like I want kids. My sister wants children and has her and her husband’s financial future all planned out so they can start trying at the optimal time.

  9. Donna L says:

    A thread on another forum about the same article, with about 125 comments mostly from women with children who are now in their teens or early 20’s, looking back retrospectively:

    http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/parent-cafe/1415968-article-opting-out-parenthood-financial-reasons.html

  10. librarygoose says:

    Man, good thing kids don’t really cost 1.7 million or my parents would still be saving for one, let alone the six they had.

    • Alexandra says:

      I’d be more interested to see what kids cost as a percent of income, because how much people spend on kids is going to depend on cost of living in an area and income; 1.7 million dollars lifetime is probably about average for an upper-middle-class family living on the east or west coasts.

      As mentioned above though, once you start talking about health problems in a kid, whether it’s a disability or an illness or injuries, then the cost increases almost exponentially.

      • librarygoose says:

        yeah, I could see someone who makes the same as my parents did while I was a kid spending that much on a kid who had special needs or health problems. They’d be so deep in debt it would be crushing, but I could understand that.

      • Donna L says:

        1.7 million dollars lifetime

        I don’t think she says that that’s supposed to be a “lifetime” number; I read it as being until the kid is an adult. And I say it’s wildly inflated unless you’re talking about a truly affluent lifestyle — even in the New York City area. (Where my son grew up and went to public schools and we never took a vacation to a place we couldn’t drive to. But I don’t have expensive tastes, and neither did my ex.) Obviously if you introduce health problems that’s a different story.

      • zuzu says:

        She sets out in the article that the figure includes costs from birth to age 40, because:

        1) Current figures usually cut off at age 17, thus putting the rather significant cost of college outside of the considerations of the cost of raising a child;

        2) Many, many adult children live at home because they can’t get a job in the current economy, or can’t afford to live on their own when educational debt and cost of housing is taken into account;

        3) Many parents give their children financial assistance well into the children’s 30s.

      • zuzu says:

        She’s also quite clear that the $1.7 mil figure is not universal, but applies to children born to parents in her income bracket and location, and goes for more years than most child-cost calculators do.

      • Alexandra says:

        I guess, Donna, that I think that budgeting for major health problems in a kid is a reasonable thing to do… I’m having trouble finding good info on this (not being an epidemiologist… yet) but I would be surprised if the percent of children with some kind of significant health problem were not at or above 20%, if you factor in mental illness alongside chronic health problems like asthma or diabetes, congenital illnesses like cystic fibrosis, and other physical disabilities.

        Are there any epidemiologists reading Feministe? Can you answer this question?

      • Bagelsan says:

        Alexandra, I agree that people should budget for a kid before having it, but honestly that idea gets a lot of pushback around here. The idea that non-normative kids can get very expensive very quickly doesn’t seem to come up enough, as it gets steamrolled by the idea that everyone should get a few of their own and fuck the costs. Yeah, ideally the state pays for all that, but ideally the state pays for all my crazy shit too, and that’s just not happening. At least as a childfree person my (lack of) income only fucks myself up.

  11. Chataya says:

    I tried to glean some insight from my discussions with women who are personal finance and parenting experts. I hoped they would help me reconcile the knowable and unknowable advantages and disadvantages of having children. Instead I was assured that a cost-benefit analysis was neither necessary nor helpful, and that one day I would feel the urge to procreate, and so I would.

    Fuck them very fucking much.

    • Alexandra says:

      That is some condescending shit, isn’t it? And it’s always women who get this lecture (why is it that women only are supposed to have the biological imperative to reproduce).

      • Chataya says:

        Particularly rage-inducing when it’s coming from your gynecologist, but I think I’ve found a good one this time. He didn’t laugh when I mentioned sterilization.

      • Alexandra says:

        Mf. I’m still trying to find a doctor who will give me, a 22yo, an IUD. Ok, I’m young, I’m nulliparous… but I have a major medical condition that would make pregnancy a really really bad idea!! And because of that medical condition, I can’t use HBC. And yet somehow the risks of one outweigh the other *mind boggles*

      • PrettyAmiable says:

        What risks are they claiming? I assume you’d be getting a copper IUD, right? Is it just the extra bleeding you may get?

      • Alexandra says:

        Nulliparous women are more likely to have difficulties during insertion of IUDs, and I believe are more likely to have complications after insertion (?).

      • zuzu says:

        Alexandra — IUDs need a certain amount of room inside the uterus, which more often than not isn’t there with nulliparous women. Of course, your doctor could measure your uterus to find out if it’s the case with you, but they typically decide not to bother. Try Planned Parenthood.

      • IrishUp says:

        Zuzu, I’m not sure that is correct of the current generation of IUDs, nor the reason that US MDs rarely recommend or discuss IUDs.
        Dr. Kate Clancy of “Context and Variation” (now on SciAm blogs) had a great series on BC the summer before last. She’s a medical anthropologist who blogs about all kinds of neat things through a feminist lens. She has particular interest in women’s reproductive issues.

        From her post “Summer of the Pill: The latest fashion accessory to hit your uterus: the IUD!”:

        On IUD and room in the uterus:

        “There are notable differences between the parous (has had children) and nulliparous (no kids) uterus. The parous uterus is a little bigger, and the cervix dilates a bit more easily. However, it turns out that for the most part these differences are not great enough to produce any differences in side effects or danger to the woman using it.

        Prager and Darney (2007) found six studies on perforation or expulsion rates for IUDs (some copper, some hormone-releasing, which are made of plastic and are flexible). They did not find enough data to support a link either way for nulliparity and perforation, because the studies they found had anywhere from zero to two nulliparous women in them. That said, the perforation rates for each study ranged from 0-1.3% in one study, and 2.6 out of 1000 in another (Prager and Darney 2007).”

        In the post, it looks like outdated information is the main reason physicians overlook IUDs.

  12. monkeypedia says:

    Also, children are expensive in the US, at least in part because the burden of paying for health care and child care for them falls almost entirely on their parents/guardians in most cases. Articles like this, that treat children quite literally as a “lifestyle choice” (this article even uses that phrase) just assume that this sort of status quo is a given, which makes me crazy. I mean, we almost had universal free/subsidized day care and preschool in this country not too long ago, it was passed by both the house and the senate and then vetoed by Nixon. Making raising healthy well cared for children not just more affordable but standard practice is not such an out there idea, but it requires thinking of children as full-fledged members of society, not just an exotic type of expensive pet some people choose to keep along with their chinese crested and their macaw.

    • monkeypedia says:

      Oof, I apologize for my use of crazy there. I actually do self-identify as crazy, but not because of child care costs.

    • Tamara says:

      Very good points of course. In NZ the cost figure I mentioned is much lower because of universal healthcare, education and so forth.

    • Past my expiration date says:

      Yes, the idea that children are an expensive private hobby sends me from serenity to rage in less than 3 seconds.

      • EG says:

        It’s the logical outgrowth of the hatred for mothers on welfare–how dare people act like having children is an essential part of a lot of human life rather than a privilege granted only to those few who are (financially) worthy? They must be irresponsible and have not thought through the consequences!

    • Sarah says:

      This is very much true, in contrast, here in Norway, having children is still expensive, but comparatively less so compared to USA because of:

      * Compulsory fully-paid parental leave for both parents.

      * Susidised high-quality low-cost childcare

      * Universal healthcare with zero co-payment for all services connected to pregnancy and childbirth, and low co-payments capped at $300/year or 1% of income (whatever is less) for all other services. Zero co-payments for anyone younger than 18.

  13. Tamara says:

    I found the article puzzling as well. In NZ most people seem to be well aware of the costs of having children. Sums like $300K to the age of 18 are bandied about. I’ve never met anyone who is all shocked at how much its cost them. People here are much more appalled at the cost of home renovations.

    In addition, the piece does come off as rather insulting. Only people who aren’t that fussed about having children could approach it this way. The problem is that it’s not clear who the intended audience is.

    • Alexandra says:

      I’m pretty sure the intended audience is herself, or the critics that she hears in her head when she thinks about not having kids.

      The sort of person who criticizes women for not having kids isn’t going to be appeased by a cost-benefit analysis, since they’re always going to bring out stuff like, “Childless women are selfish,” and, “You’ll want a kid once your biological clock starts ticking.”

      • Meaghan says:

        hahahaha yes. It really sounds like she is trying to convince herself she is right.

        (Not that she doesn’t have good reasons, it’s just the way it’s written)

      • Bagelsan says:

        Haha, stupid childfree women with their selfish guilt complexes! You aren’t convincing anyone with your heavily-researched article!

    • EG says:

      Precisely this.

      Does the writer really think that people are going to read this piece and think “Oooooh. Kids are costly. I never realized,” and change their decisions? Like people who have kids don’t know ahead of time that it’ll take money?

      In addition, the piece does come off as rather insulting. Only people who aren’t that fussed about having children could approach it this way.

      Yes. This is a much more succinct version of what I was trying to get at above.

      • Lolagirl says:

        Does the writer really think that people are going to read this piece and think “Oooooh. Kids are costly. I never realized,” and change their decisions? Like people who have kids don’t know ahead of time that it’ll take money?

        Yes, I suspect she does think exactly this. Bonus points if you also feel significantly chastened and full of regret for it never occurring to you to think through the economic cost of your breeding ways after reading her article.

      • Bagelsan says:

        Well, about half of US pregnancies are unplanned, right? I think that a fair number of parents obviously really don’t put a lot of thought into what raising kids will be like until they’re only about 9 months out from actually having the thing.

      • EG says:

        I disagree. Not planning a pregnancy is not the same as being gobsmacked by the unprecedented news that children cost lots and lots of money. I can’t even imagine how privileged a life you’d have to lead not to know this by the time you’re in your early 20s, the group she claims has many people who don’t think about this.

      • shfree says:

        Speaking as a parent of an unplanned kid, that is a really shitty thing to say. The implication, to me, is that we are all just running through life utterly clueless about anything related to children and/or childrearing until we get knocked up, and frankly we aren’t stupid just because our birth control fucking fails.

      • Bagelsan says:

        Calm down, shfree. 9_9 What’s “shitty” about saying that half of all pregnancies being unplanned indicates that there are a decent chunk of people who didn’t probably budget for the unplanned kid ahead of time? They didn’t think there would be a kid; why would they budget for one?

      • WL says:

        Sorry, Bagel, but you make too much sense.

        The rare cases of people whose birth control failed, but already did a bunch of math and budgeting just in case, and researched plenty and were ready for a child any time…well they’re obviously the rule and not the exception, right? And anyone who doesn’t fit that description but has an unplanned pregnancy must be “stupid.”

  14. Lolagirl says:

    When I see article after article written by affluent white women about not having kids is just the most reasonable choice–as though people who want/have children just never thought of it this way before–I’m going to call condescending bullshit. Trust me, affluent white lady writing for the NYT, you haven’t tumbled to a massive secret that other people haven’t realized. We know that having kids is costly. That tells me the issue isn’t about reasonableness of the pros and cons, but about justifying a decision ex post facto.

    EG for the win, once again.

    What is it with the New York Times and the self-congratulatory condescension from their columnists talking down to everyone else who doesn’t make the same life choices as them anyway? It’s like variations on the same theme of journalist who thinks she is the first person ever to have these original thoughts or to express them so earnestly. That’s not feminism, folks, and doesn’t really make for interesting reading either.

    The more compelling conversations were with other mothers — neighbors, friends and co-workers — to whom I casually mentioned that I was writing an article about considering not having children. Before I could even put it in a financial context, more than a few of them cut me off to say just three words: Good for you.

    And it never occurs to her that maybe, just maybe, the reason she gets this response is because these other women are trying to short circuit the conversation. And that maybe they are doing so because the last thing on earth they wanted was to be put on the spot to rationalize and explain their personal choice to procreate to a person they already know is CFBC and a columnist for the NYT.

    • Miss S says:

      And it never occurs to her that maybe, just maybe, the reason she gets this response is because these other women are trying to short circuit the conversation. And that maybe they are doing so because the last thing on earth they wanted was to be put on the spot to rationalize and explain their personal choice to procreate to a person they already know is CFBC and a columnist for the NYT.

      Agreed. I know I would do the exact same thing. Another privileged woman seeking validation for her life choices from others? So. Fucking. Tiring. Shut. Up.

  15. Past my expiration date says:

    I almost stopped with the first paragraph

    MOST people want to be sure that they can buy and pay for a home, save up for an emergency fund and enjoy a comfortable retirement. They will go to great lengths to meet those goals, and they make life choices accordingly.

    in which it is immediately clear that “most people” means “most people the author knows”.

    And then I did stop altogether with the last paragraph on the first page

    Part of what I imagine makes parenting so hard is the challenge of making financial compromises, and the emotional fallout from those choices. It must be difficult to accept that no matter how you set aside your own interests, you cannot afford the very best of everything for your child.

    because of all of the things I have ever found difficult to accept, this one is absolutely nowhere on the list. Every thought in this paragraph is wrong.

    • chava says:

      It must be difficult to accept that no matter how you set aside your own interests, you cannot afford the very best of everything for your child.

      Fuck you very fucking much, lady. (the author, not PA)

      That is so condescending I don’t even have words. Sure, people want good things for their children. But I don’t cry myself to sleep at night that the Fat One could not have a $900.00 stroller and designer baby clothes. Good healthcare? YES. Good education? YES. The “very best of everything”? Oh, come off it.

    • (BFing)Sarah says:

      I didn’t even get that far with the article, it was exhausting. Even if I COULD give my kids the very best of absolutely everything, I think I’d pass. I mean, the Hilton sisters are not exactly what I would consider excellent offspring.

      • EG says:

        I strongly suspect that my definition of “the best” is completely different from the Hilton parents’ definition of “the best.” I mean…I would put “giving my children a good sense of values and of what’s important” on any list of the best things I want to give them, personally.

  16. I guess the pretty awesome tiny person we’re raising on less than 15K a year (and that’s assuming she takes up half the household’s expenses) must be, like, a hamster, then.

    Fucking rich shits.

    • Bagelsan says:

      Rodents are fucking expensive! I had to get my pet rats spayed at $100 a pop. Furry little bastards. :p

      • Chataya says:

        I have to say that, for their lifespan, rats are the most expensive pet I’ve ever owned. Love the little shits, though.

      • WL says:

        What year was this? How large were the rats? I considered myself extremely lucky to find a vet (granted, in a not-so-rich area) who only charged around $300 for a guinea pig (around 800g – 1kg) OVH. It’s a very difficult and invasive surgery to perform, especially on animals that small. Not to mention services like pulse oxymetry, ECG, pre-op bloodwork, anesthesia, etc etc. $300 is nothing compared to a fair price at a decent hospital for humans.

        For the second one, it was more like $450, but that included the uterine biopsy.

        It wasn’t the spay surgeries that cost a lot, though. More the constant fresh foods (organic Belgian endives anyone?), daily medications, stuff like that. Those “little things” add up, even if $20 for a month of meds doesn’t seem nearly as large as a $300 surgery. Or the $300 ultrasounds, except we had several of those, vs only 2 spays on our younger cavies. Same with people thinking spending $800 in one day on our oldest one is a lot (“what, in just ONE DAY?”) but that’s only a drop in the bucket.

        Only people who are very ignorant and/or uncaring, heartless, and morally bankrupt would call these living, feeling beings “cheap starter pets.”

  17. Dominique says:

    Being alive as an adult is awfully expensive, too. There’s a way to avoid the whole mess, but it’s considered a bit drastic.

    IMO, the real debate is why there are aren’t enough social programs to make life more liveable for everyone, including families with children.

    And of course: if you don’t want kids, you don’t need a financial argument. Not having a maternal instinct is an extremely good reason not to have them, since the feeling of being unloved and unwanted is a recipe for poor development and depression.

    In short, if you are unsure, wait until you know. My mother let others talk her into the whole “it’ll be different when they’re yours” argument, and she still hated the whole process. We heard about it the whole time she was alive. It was not fun.

    • Bagelsan says:

      Being alive as an adult is awfully expensive, too. There’s a way to avoid the whole mess, but it’s considered a bit drastic.

      …By being one of the NYC children who costs $1.7 mil and lives at home until age 40? Bet that saves you a few bucks. ;p

    • tomek says:

      i have curious, you think only the maternal instinct give love to child? so man cannot love child as good as woman?

      • Lolagirl says:

        Oy, Tomek, work on those reading comprehension skills some more, would you?

        The author of the article in question is a woman, and the commenter was pointing out that her simply not having a maternal drive to have a child is sufficient reason to not do so. Dressing it up with a bunch of rationalizations about how daunting the alleged costs of bearing and raising a child might be is unnecessary.

        It has nothing to do with men or their ability or capacity to parent sufficiently.

      • tomek says:

        i see. in my country ist is common believe that man cannot care for child as good as woman. i think is true for very small child where ciswoman can give breast milk which improve much intelligence of child. but after child is finished being small, i think man can do good raise child especially boy. woman good at raise girl.

        on subject or article i think that woman and man should be able chose not to have or to have child freely. but i also think important for people to stop havig many so children because overpopulation and poor conditions

      • Donna L says:

        i think is true for very small child where ciswoman can give breast milk which improve much intelligence of child. but after child is finished being small, i think man can do good raise child especially boy. woman good at raise girl.

        Are we really sure that Tomek isn’t a performance troll?

      • Lolagirl says:

        Are we really sure that Tomek isn’t a performance troll?

        Yeah, I floated the theory a few discussion ago (maybe the Endo one?) that he was actually some teenager in Tulsa couch trolling from his parents’ basement.

        I have curious, Tomek, is there not homework for you to be doing?

      • Donna L says:

        Nobody said that. And I suspect that nobody here believes that. It remains the case, however, that becoming a parent tends to affect women economically more than it affects men. (Leaving aside for the moment the fact that not all female parents are mothers and not all male parents are fathers.)

  18. Victoria says:

    I will never understand these articles. If you don’t want to have kids that’s cool, go about your day. Truth be told- I don’t care. If you want to have kids that’s cool, go about your day. Don’t pull out a fucking spread sheet to explain to me in great detail why parenting is or is not right for you. You diminish the magnitude of the choice by putting it in Excel.

    Why are there no articles about making highly skilled child care universally accessible? What about creating universal health care? Paid parental/family leave?

    Why are all articles written in the mainstream media about parenting from affluent white New York City women who have a guilt complex about not wanting children and all the reasons they have used to justify it to their families? It’s like news outlets go around to all their female editorial staff and ask them to write one!

    Why is it that when I bring up my (apparently perverse) desire to have children at a young age (26) that I might as well have confessed to having a desire to punch kittens? And yes, I’m white and come from a middle class educated elite background. I feel the opposite of these women and wish they would please stop acting like the world is out to get them. In their own social circles its completely acceptable to never have kids- expected in many professions! Gah! The world wants you to choose your choice! Stop attacking mine!

    • Bagelsan says:

      I feel the opposite of these women and wish they would please stop acting like the world is out to get them. In their own social circles its completely acceptable to never have kids

      Uh, wrong.

      • bleh says:

        Oh dear goddess no no no. I’m in academe, where one might expect the choice not to reproduce would be encouraged. Not. at. all. The parental force at my institution = strong. Just over the weekend after my colleagues were crowing about their kids to the dean’s partner, she asked if I had children. I replied that no, I am not repro-normative. Awkward silence, followed by some natterings about how I get to spend time w/ the colleagues’ children (btw, true and sometimes very fun). But holy hannah, it is so not ok to be childfree here.

      • Chataya says:

        Yeah, all of my rich relatives missed that memo, too.

    • EG says:

      Why are all articles written in the mainstream media about parenting from affluent white New York City women who have a guilt complex about not wanting children and all the reasons they have used to justify it to their families? It’s like news outlets go around to all their female editorial staff and ask them to write one!

      For real. It’s as though the paper of record suddenly loses sight of journalism altogether when the subject of having children arises:

      “A…series exploring systemic issues that affect people’s choices? But this is a concern affecting the ladies! Surely a first-person piece by an editor’s sister-in-law will be sufficient!”

      “What about a series of first-person pieces by other people–we could commission one from a single mother on welfare, one from a mother of color partnered with another mother of color, one from a young black woman who has decided not to have children, one from an older Asian woman looking back on her decision not to have kids–”

      “Pshaw! Stuff and nonsense! Whatever could they have to say that can’t be covered by Bob’s brother’s wife?”

      • Lolagirl says:

        “Pshaw! Stuff and nonsense! Whatever could they have to say that can’t be covered by Bob’s brother’s wife?”

        People with differing points of view, who exist outside the confines of the 5 boroughs of New York City?

        Not possible!

      • Donna L says:

        how about outside Manhattan (or certain parts of it), never mind the 5 boroughs.

      • Lolagirl says:

        Ah, yes, aren’t they the same ones who think that Brooklyn is the hipster annex of the East Village?

      • Jill says:

        For real. It’s as though the paper of record suddenly loses sight of journalism altogether when the subject of having children arises:

        “A…series exploring systemic issues that affect people’s choices? But this is a concern affecting the ladies! Surely a first-person piece by an editor’s sister-in-law will be sufficient!”

        I find that pretty condescending. The author of this piece isn’t someone’s sister-in-law; from what I can tell from five minutes of poking around, she’s a “Your Money” producer and a regular contributor to the Times and other publications about finance issues, so it makes sense she would write about the financial issues related to having a kid.

        The rest of the Times Motherlode blog is run by some pretty seasoned journalists. I don’t always love their content, but the Times isn’t just picking any yahoo to write about this stuff.

      • EG says:

        I find that pretty condescending.

        It was supposed to be. If she can dish it out, she can take it.

        It would make sense for her to write about the financial issues around having kids if she were writing about the financial issues around having kids. But she’s not. She’s writing yet one more navel-gazing personal essay about how she’s the first person ever to weigh these concerns.

    • Jill says:

      Why are there no articles about making highly skilled child care universally accessible? What about creating universal health care? Paid parental/family leave?

      You seriously think there are no articles about child care, universal health care or paid family leave?

      Why are all articles written in the mainstream media about parenting from affluent white New York City women who have a guilt complex about not wanting children and all the reasons they have used to justify it to their families? It’s like news outlets go around to all their female editorial staff and ask them to write one!

      There is an entire blog in the Times called “Motherlode,” dedicated solely to parenting issues. I suspect that if we did a comparison between the number of articles about childfree-ness in the TImes vs. the number of articles on parenting, you’d see parenting win approximately 100 to 1. So I think your critique is not exactly on point.

      • Lolagirl says:

        There is an entire blog in the Times called “Motherlode,” dedicated solely to parenting issues.

        Sure there is, but the complaint still stands that it’s written by a bunch of well to do New Yorkers who have no inking of how the 99%ers actually live in the rest of the U.S.

      • Fat Steve says:

        Sure there is, but the complaint still stands that it’s written by a bunch of well to do New Yorkers who have no inking of how the 99%ers actually live in the rest of the U.S.

        Hence it not being called the ‘Rest Of The U.S. Times.’

      • Jill says:

        Sure there is, but the complaint still stands that it’s written by a bunch of well to do New Yorkers who have no inking of how the 99%ers actually live in the rest of the U.S.

        Well, sort of… although I’m not sure most journalists, even at the Times, are particularly well-to-do; I would imagine only a small handful of them qualify as the 1%. As for being New Yorkers who are arguably out of touch with the rest of the U.S., sure. But it’s the New York Times. Of course most of their staff lives and works in New York. I think it’s fair to point out that they occupy an intellectually elite position and certainly aren’t low-income and they’re in an elite class of professional writers, but then that seems to run counter to EG’s criticism that anything lady-related seems like someone just asked their sister-in-law to throw it together. So what’s the criticism? That they’re out of touch, and should have more “regular folks” writing about parenthood? Or that they’re privileged elites who don’t get how the rest of society lives?

      • Lolagirl says:

        Hence it not being called the ‘Rest Of The U.S. Times.’

        Really, Steve, this argument again?

        The New York Times is not some local paper, it’s a national paper recognized around the country and throughout the world as a premiere source for serious journalism. You can stomp you feet all day long about how it’s not everywhere else in the U.S. Times. But for a paper that prides itself on having a reach that extends far outside the the NY/NJ/CT metro area, It’s silly that they continue to publish these puff pieces by New York women living their New York lives who assume that they speak for all the women everywhere in this country.

      • Yes, Steve, and this is why the Hindu isn’t read by any Muslims, and the BBC doesn’t have any international content, and American writers don’t publish work in the Guardian –

        oh wait.

      • IrishUp says:

        Interesting how the Times blog on parenting is called
        “Motherlode”, innit?

    • PrettyAmiable says:

      Why are all articles written in the mainstream media about parenting from affluent white New York City women who have a guilt complex about not wanting children and all the reasons they have used to justify it to their families?

      Can you please explain to me why you think Nadia Taha (i.e. the author of this article) is white?

      • zuzu says:

        God, thank you. There seems to be the assumption that all NYT writers must be white. I can get on board with affluent just because you don’t get jobs there without being plugged in to the elite or becoming the elite, but there’s no indication of her race or ethnicity at all.

      • Henry says:

        Is white shorthand for you don’t know what you are talking about? who cares what race she is, plenty of white women have kids too…and there are non-white members of the cultural/financial elite in NYC…

      • Bagelsan says:

        “White” is shorthand for you-didn’t-follow-the-link. :p

  19. Bridget says:

    Meh. I’d rather have my kid than $1.7 million.

  20. Jill says:

    I appreciate these comments, but just a few thoughts:

    1. How do we know she’s white? I don’t see her say that in the article.

    2. Agreed that this reads as slightly condescending, but honestly no, I don’t think people realize just how much money it takes to raise kids. Yes, they know it’s expensive. But do most women realize that having a kid results in lower wages, even if you keep working? Do people realize that it’s expensive to the tune of more than a million dollars? I actually don’t think so. And when you realize that a lot of the big-ticket items — health insurance, college education, even pre-college ed for the rich folks — are things that other countries provide all families for free, it’s infuriating.

    3. I actually think there’s something important and powerful for talking openly about why you don’t want kids. There is still an assumption that all women (and most men) want babies; when you’re partnered and getting into your late 20s and 30s, there’s a whole lot of pressure. And while that pressure may not be suffocating in upper-income Manhattan, in many communities the idea of being child-free is non-existent and wholly unacceptable. In many other places, there’s a sort of middle road — having a kid is simply what everyone does, and you’re a freak or a weirdo if you don’t. More child-free voices that aren’t hostile to parents are important. And I think it’s important for parents to bite back a little bit of the (well-earned) defensiveness that anyone talking about the reasons why they’re child-free is being anti-parent. Because of course the reasons why someone is child-free are going to sound not-awesome or even condescending to someone who has made a different choice.

    4. I read this article and didn’t think, “Man what a condescending jerk!” Instead I thought, “Man, kids are really expensive and while it sounds like this lady doesn’t want them anyway, I’ll bet there are people who DO want them and can’t afford them, and stories like this highlight why we need some serious social and political changes to make that a possibility. Because having a kid — feeling comfortable planning a pregnancy — should not depend on your financial status.”

    • Tamara says:

      Well, it would have helped if the author had actually stated the conclusion in your point 4. Rather than simply saying: “having kids is super expensive, thank goodness I don’t want them”.

      As for your point 3, I don’t really see the value of back up arguments if the main reason you don’t want kids is that you just don’t want them. As we all agree here, no-one should have to justify their choice not to have children. Doesn’t her piece rather buy in to the pressure to justify?

      • Kristen J. says:

        Except you have to justify as a Childfree person. People ask constantly. They don’t accept, “I simply don’t want to have kids” as an answer. And its not just coworkers or obnoxious aunts, its also the women you organize with and fight for childcare with. Mainstream feminism may have a bias against motherhood, but most everywhere else has a bias against some women remaining childfree. Accepting that people may rationally choose to be childfree would be a big step forward.

      • PrettyAmiable says:

        Just to throw in – I’m 26, and not getting pressured about having babies RIGHT NOW, but when I say I never want kids of my own, people love telling me how I’m totally going to change my mind like they somehow know me better than me. It’s always nice to have a justification besides the real reason (after being assaulted, I want my body completely unaffected by anybody other than me), though I will say that “Young’ns are expensive” will get you a nice round of “SELFISH.”

      • Chataya says:

        I’ve been asking for a permanent or long-term form of birth control for 6 years now, and I always get the oh-so-condescending “you’ll change your mind” followed by a knowing smirk and a pat on the head. The last is an exaggeration, but still.

        Oh yes, freak, selfish, slut, lesbian, not really a woman, the downfall of society…

      • EG says:

        But you have to justify as a child-wanting person as well. If you want kids, why haven’t you made that happen? Why aren’t you seeing anybody? Is it that no real man could match up to the man in you head? I have been asked these questions and others at parties by people I have just been introduced to not ten minutes earlier. I have been asked such questions by my grandfather. I have had people tell me when the best time to have kids is–people who have never had to face such concerns themselves and really wouldn’t know. If I’d had them some years ago, I’d have been killing my career, wouldn’t I have been? And if I have them in a couple years, well, it’ll be my fault for waiting too long if something goes wrong, won’t it? Justifying one’s reproductive choices is par for the misogynist course for all of us. It’s not something you get out of by wanting kids.

      • Kristen J. says:

        Actually, I’ve backed some people off with the “kids are expensive” line…but mainly men. They still think I’m unnatural but at least they don’t constantly hound me with “But you’ll change your mind.”

      • Miss S says:

        Well, some women have to justify their decision to have children. Namely, the not white, not rich ones.

        Articles like this just further the idea that ‘some women’ shouldn’t have kids because they can’t afford them. I mean, if a journalist living and working in NY for the NYT can’t afford it, how dare anyone below her on the socioeconomic ladder have them?

      • Kristen J. says:

        @EG,

        I respect your desire to have kids. More than that, I actively support social change that will hopefully someday make that a reality for you. Why a it so damn difficult to support my decision and actively support social change that will hopefully make my decision socially acceptable? Why does this conversation about broadening the options and support for women who are CF automatically about the people who want too have children. The OP was condescending and a bit obnoxious, but that doesn’t mean that she didn’t have a valid point offer a valid point of view. There are many reasons not to have children and finances ideas one of them. Choosing not to have children should be a decision we support and doing so is not anti-parent.

      • Miss S, I should also point out that there are a hell of a lot of non-white women out there who have to justify NOT having kids in their own communities, so maybe please stop generalising about this? Thanks. I’m starting to get really annoyed by this whole “all white women are told to procreate and all non-whites are told not to” monolith creation.

      • EG says:

        Kristen, where have I ever not supported anybody’s decision not to have children? Why is it so hard in this case? You answer that question yourself by noting that “The OP was condescending and a bit obnoxious.” Why should I support that person?

        Tell me what options need to be broadened. I’m on board with them. Nobody should be having children unless they want to. I’ve never said anything else. But I’m not going to ignore condescension and obnoxiousness in order to offer moral support to some affluent twit.

      • Kristen J. says:

        Except right here…in this thread, I was talking about the stuff CF people go through and the response was “But the people who want children face pressure.” That isn’t being supportive. Referring to CF women talking about their experiences as “whining” is not being supportive. Saying that women can’t rationally decide not to have children isn’t being supportive. I know you are pissed at this obnoxious article, and I see why, but your words seem to imply you think CF women just need to shut the fuck up about their *reasons* because other people’s reasons and feelings are more important.

      • EG says:

        You presented having to justify reproductive choices as something unique to women who choose not to have children (“except”), and that’s why the writer’s condescension is justified (that’s how I read your comment). But it’s not unique; it’s part and parcel of a society that judges women’s reproductive actions no matter what we do.

        I referred to her “whining” once, and that wasn’t in reference to her childfree-ness; it was in reference to her class and economic privilege (Oh, it must be SO HARD to worry that you won’t be able to buy a house). She’s obnoxious and condescending and seems completely unaware that no, “most” people do NOT, are not ABLE to take the steps to get the things she says we want. So yes, I’m not going to be supportive of her. That’s not because she’s child-free and unhappy about how much pressure is brought to bear on her. It’s because she’s a jerk.

      • Fat Steve says:

        Kristen, where have I ever not supported anybody’s decision not to have children? Why is it so hard in this case? You answer that question yourself by noting that “The OP was condescending and a bit obnoxious.” Why should I support that person?

        Tell me what options need to be broadened. I’m on board with them. Nobody should be having children unless they want to. I’ve never said anything else. But I’m not going to ignore condescension and obnoxiousness in order to offer moral support to some affluent twit.

        Okay, EG, I’m going to explain why I find your remarks whenever this subject comes up to be both condescending and obnoxious. You are giving off the attitude (I’m totally willing to believe it’s unintentional,) that you are some how better than other child-free women because you ‘want’ children. You totally ignore your own situation as an example of why the ‘choice’ to have children is much more simple than ‘wanting’ them or ‘not wanting’ them. You may be accurately describing your state of mind, but based on results, you do not want children any more than Kristen or I do. Because you say you want children, no one here asks you to give your reasons for being child free by choice, but if you offered them I would hope someone would come up with a nicer description than ‘obnoxious and condescending.’

      • Fat Steve says:

        sorry, that should have said ‘much less simple’…

        #notamorningperson

      • EG says:

        you are some how better than other child-free women because you ‘want’ children.

        First of all, I’m not child-free. I’m childless. My understanding of the term “child-free” is that it is used by people who don’t want children, and so don’t see not having them as something that is “less.” I have never found that I have anything in common regarding children with someone who identifies as “child-free,” and I would never describe myself that way. I’m childless so far, I haven’t had children yet, if I never have children I will be pretty deeply unhappy. That’s not child-free.

        You totally ignore your own situation as an example of why the ‘choice’ to have children is much more simple than ‘wanting’ them or ‘not wanting’ them. You may be accurately describing your state of mind, but based on results, you do not want children any more than Kristen or I do.

        That’s why results are not an accurate indication of desire, which is why I do not identify as child-free.

        Because you say you want children, no one here asks you to give your reasons for being child free by choice, but if you offered them I would hope someone would come up with a nicer description than ‘obnoxious and condescending.’

        I’ve talked about those reasons many’s the time, and I’ve been asked about them, as I mention, by people in all kinds of inappropriate situations. But if in describing them, I showed no awareness of my economic privilege, and implied that I was the ONLY person to suffer or think through these things, or that if Kristen J. really considered what I had to say, she too would want kids, then I think you should use “obnoxious and condescending.”

      • Fat Steve says:

        First of all, I’m not child-free. I’m childless. My understanding of the term “child-free” is that it is used by people who don’t want children, and so don’t see not having them as something that is “less.” I have never found that I have anything in common regarding children with someone who identifies as “child-free,” and I would never describe myself that way. I’m childless so far, I haven’t had children yet, if I never have children I will be pretty deeply unhappy. That’s not child-free.

        This is the root of why I find your attitude condescending. You assume that people are either child-free (having no wish in the world for a child) or child-less (desperately wanting a child but not hiving the good fortune to have one.) Would there honestly be something wrong with you NOT being deeply unhappy if you didn’t have a child? Can’t there be some sort of a continuum where you recognize that it was not your fate to have a child and you accept it as your lot in life and are appreciative of what you have? Because honestly I think that represents much more the attitude of ‘child-free’ people than the brat hating monsters you seem to think fall under that umbrella.

      • You may be accurately describing your state of mind, but based on results, you do not want children any more than Kristen or I do.

        Fucking hell, Steve, did you just say that if EG really wanted kids she’d have them already?

        That’s…. wow. Um. That’s really fucking asshole. I mean, that’s so fucking asshole that I’m kind of amazed that you managed to pack it into one sentence. You’re being incredibly obnoxious and condescending right now, by the way. Far more than EG, and I’m on your side of the child/free debate, for the gods’ sakes.

      • Can’t there be some sort of a continuum where you recognize that it was not your fate to have a child and you accept it as your lot in life and are appreciative of what you have? Because honestly I think that represents much more the attitude of ‘child-free’ people than the brat hating monsters you seem to think fall under that umbrella.

        Oh, I see. All people without children are exactly like Steve. If they’re not, they’re obnoxious and condescending. FWIW, I’ve known a hell of a lot of child-free people and not one – seriously, not ONE – has had the tiniest sad about having kids. I know I don’t. It’s not my “lot in life”, it’s a carefully thought out decision that, no matter how much biology shrieks in my ear in the future, I won’t be changing. I don’t hate kids, I just don’t want any. In much the same way that I don’t hate all husbands evar, I just wouldn’t want to have one.

        I would absolutely consider somebody like the person you described to be childless, not child-free.

      • Fat Steve says:

        Fucking hell, Steve, did you just say that if EG really wanted kids she’d have them already?

        No, I am not saying that, I’m saying the opposite. I’m saying that people who make the choice not to have children may ‘want’ children as much as people who make the choice to have them/

      • Fat Steve says:

        I would absolutely consider somebody like the person you described to be childless, not child-free.

        So I am to be pitied rather than censured? Oh, well thank you very much then.

      • So I am to be pitied rather than censured? Oh, well thank you very much then.

        When did I ever pity OR censure you? I’m just telling you not to first appropriate and then blithely redefine and completely distort my identity. Make up your own term if you’re so goddamn invested.

      • bleh says:

        Thank you Kristen

      • Fat Steve says:

        Oh, I see. All people without children are exactly like Steve.

        Again, the exact opposite of what I said. I said a ‘continuum’ and the person I was describing was the median of the continuum.

        Mac, if you are at the opposite end of the continuum from EG, nothing in my comment was criticizing you for not being like me, I was merely saying that we are all non-parents and I don’t recognize the distinction between ‘child-free’ and ‘child-less’ because you and I (and EG) could both change our minds about children tomorrow and we’d still be in the same situation.

      • Kristen J. says:

        @EG,

        At no point did I claim uniqueness. I refuted the contention that women can just stop having to justify their decision not to have children. You seem to think that CF people talking about their experiences negates the experience of others, but it doesn’t.

      • Donna L says:

        I don’t recognize the distinction between ‘child-free’ and ‘child-less’ because you and I (and EG) could both change our minds about children tomorrow and we’d still be in the same situation.

        Steve, whether you “recognize” the distinction or not, it exists, and it’s both insulting and offensive for you to label people as “child-free” — a term which very clearly and specifically implies (as it was always intended to) that being without children is a positive thing for that person* — when they very much don’t identify as such and don’t want to have the term applied to them. The fact that someone could hypothetically change their mind in the future as to what they want is irrelevant to how they identify presently, and is hardly a basis for “refusing to recognize” their present (and, in EG’s case, as she has stated, very long-held) state of mind. By your logic, any identity is conditional so long as the possibility exists of future change.

        As long as you continue to be this disrespectful, people will continue to call you a fucking asshole.

        * If you really think “child-free” and “childless” are neutral and interchangeable terms, please start using “life-free” instead of “lifeless,” and let me know how that works out.

      • shfree says:

        From what I understood is that people who self-identify as child-free are those who never intend to have children, period. However, all don’t loathe children to the point of the more extreme members of that umbrella.

        Childless, on the other hand, are those people who simply don’t have children currently. As to whether or not they will have children in the future, that’s uncertain. Some intend to have kids at some point, some are simply leaving that option in their lives open, and some found themselves in the unfortunate position of never being able to have kids, despite desperately wanting them.

        It’s really important to not mix up the two terms, as both of them are really loaded for many people, particularly when we are talking about issues that divide parents and non-parents. It’s one of the privileges parents (more correctly mothers actually) have, people stop making judgements about our decisions as to why we don’t have kid(s), they just get up in our grills about our parenting (mothering) choices.

      • Fat Steve says:

        Steve, whether you “recognize” the distinction or not, it exists, and it’s both insulting and offensive for you to label people as “child-free” — a term which very clearly and specifically implies (as it was always intended to) that being without children is a positive thing for that person* — when they very much don’t identify as such and don’t want to have the term applied to them. The fact that someone could hypothetically change their mind in the future as to what they want is irrelevant to how they identify presently, and is hardly a basis for “refusing to recognize” their present (and, in EG’s case, as she has stated, very long-held) state of mind. By your logic, any identity is conditional so long as the possibility exists of future change.

        As long as you continue to be this disrespectful, people will continue to call you a fucking asshole.

        OK, I have literally never heard of the expression ‘child-free’ to mean what you say it does. I’m willing to believe you when you say that that’s what it means to you. However, I’m not lying when I say that to me ‘child-free’ simply means ‘without child.’

        You are the one being disrespectful by insinuating I am a liar rather than just ignorant of this term, and if maybe you had provided some links to specific uses of the term ‘child-free,’ and educated me rather than immediately assuming ill will…well then maybe the asshole feeling wouldn’t be mutual.

      • Donna L says:

        I’m not lying when I say that to me ‘child-free’ simply means ‘without child.’

        Then you are the only person I know of who thinks that’s what it means. The very point of inventing the term was to convey that it refers to someone for whom “childlessness” is a voluntary decision rather than a tragic absence. Given that you’re the one who insisted that you “don’t recognize” a distinction between the two terms, even after EG had explained that she isn’t “child-free,” perhaps it was your obligation to look up the definition, not mine to provide “citations” to prove that a word means what it means. But here’s Wikipedia for you, if that’s good enough:

        Childfree (sometimes spelled child-free), also known as voluntary childlessness,[1] is a form of childlessness. Voluntary childlessness in women is defined as women of childbearing age who are fertile and do not intend to have children, women who have chosen sterilization, or women past childbearing age who were fertile but chose not to have children. . . .

        The term was coined in the English language late in the 20th century[2] and is used to describe people who have made a personal decision not to have children.

      • Steve, since you apparently inhabit an internet where words mean other things:

        http://www.lmgtfy.com/?q=childfree

        less snarkily: http://www.childfree.net/
        http://thechildfreelife.com/

      • Fat Steve says:

        Then you are the only person I know of who thinks that’s what it means. The very point of inventing the term was to convey that it refers to someone for whom “childlessness” is a voluntary decision rather than a tragic absence. Given that you’re the one who insisted that you “don’t recognize” a distinction between the two terms, even after EG had explained that she isn’t “child-free,” perhaps it was your obligation to look up the definition, not mine to provide “citations” to prove that a word means what it means. But here’s Wikipedia for you, if that’s good enough:

        Childfree (sometimes spelled child-free), also known as voluntary childlessness,[1] is a form of childlessness. Voluntary childlessness in women is defined as women of childbearing age who are fertile and do not intend to have children, women who have chosen sterilization, or women past childbearing age who were fertile but chose not to have children. . . .

        The term was coined in the English language late in the 20th century[2] and is used to describe people who have made a personal decision not to have children.

        Thank you. I did not know that. I trusted what you were saying but appreciate the link. I’m sure I’m not the only person as the wikipedia page notes it’s relatively recent coinage.

        I still don’t love the lumping of people into two categories because it’s not that simple. What would you call a couple in a situation like mine, where the woman has had medical issues, and the choice is made not to have fertility treatments or adopt? I mean, apart from ‘assholes,’ of course ;)

      • Fat Steve says:

        Steve, since you apparently inhabit an internet where words mean other things:

        http://www.lmgtfy.com/?q=childfree

        less snarkily: http://www.childfree.net/
        http://thechildfreelife.com/

        Look, I honestly didn’t even know it was a thing to google. I don’t really inhabit the internet much (this is the only blog I regularly read, and the rest of my internet time is primarily on work-related social media.)

        I thought EG was using the term child-free to mean childless, in the way that sugar-free gum is used to mean sugarless. I get it now, and I understand that my comments could be open to a different interpretation had my context been different. Nevertheless I would think that my comments pretty much make it obvious that I was operating from a context where child-free and childless meant the same thing (i.e. my own ignorant context.)

      • EG says:

        Well, that argument was had while I was away.

        Nevertheless I would think that my comments pretty much make it obvious that I was operating from a context where child-free and childless meant the same thing (i.e. my own ignorant context.)

        Actually, Steve, I have long been perplexed, if not downright baffled, by your comments on these kinds of threads for precisely this reason, it seems. From my point of view, you would describe yourself as “childfree” and often align yourself with essays written by people who are strongly identified as childfree, like Amanda Marcotte, and then when I would refer to you as not wanting children, you would become very aggrieved about my “assumptions,” when from my point of view, the assumption I was making was inherent in the language you were using. Eventually, I just decided that what you were saying would never make sense to me and that was that.

        So no, your context was never at all clear to me, because the word didn’t mean what you thought it did.

        Now, no, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with someone who wasn’t deeply sad forever about not having children, but I’m not that person, and that person’s perspective is not one I have much in common with. Nor could I just wake up tomorrow and decide not to want children, any more than I could just wake up and decide that I didn’t want to live in NYC, or decide that I wasn’t attracted to my boyfriend. These are powerful feelings not under my conscious control.

      • EG says:

        Kristen J.,

        OK, in that case I misunderstood what you were saying, and I apologize and would like to rephrase my comment as a question. In your opinion, is the kind of harassment that childfree women experience of a piece with the harassment/judgment visited upon all women with respect to their reproductive choices, or is there something about it that makes it categorically different?

      • Fat Steve says:

        Actually, Steve, I have long been perplexed, if not downright baffled, by your comments on these kinds of threads for precisely this reason, it seems. From my point of view, you would describe yourself as “childfree” and often align yourself with essays written by people who are strongly identified as childfree, like Amanda Marcotte, and then when I would refer to you as not wanting children, you would become very aggrieved about my “assumptions,” when from my point of view, the assumption I was making was inherent in the language you were using. Eventually, I just decided that what you were saying would never make sense to me and that was that.

        So no, your context was never at all clear to me, because the word didn’t mean what you thought it did.

        Well then I’m glad we figured this out even if it it took me being called an asshole.

        To further clarify, I am not of the ‘child-free’ mentality, I am of the I don’t happen to have children’ mentality but the reason I defend commenters like Amanda (on this specific issue, that is,) is because throughout my wife’s 30’s she was constantly coming home from events with friends and family and being in tears due to feeling like a let down or selfish or whatever. So when I see someone who’s attitude comes off like ‘Fuck you, I’m happy not to have children,’ I see that fuck you directed at the people who made my wife feel like shit, not directed at people like you or the mothers who comment here.

      • Kristen J. says:

        In your opinion, is the kind of harassment that childfree women experience of a piece with the harassment/judgment visited upon all women with respect to their reproductive choices, or is there something about it that makes it categorically different?

        It depends on what you mean. The shit people dump on CF women is misogynistic. So in that sense its the same. But its different in character the same way women who conform to gender norms experience different pressures than women who do not conform to gender norms. Both forms of oppression are misogynistic, but they are also different.

      • EG says:

        Steve,

        Those people who made your wife cry are assholes. I’m so sorry that they made you and her suffer. People with similar bents have been hurtful to me as well, though I expect in different ways. I do think that writers like Amanda can be nuanced enough to attack those assholes without bagging me and Lolagirl and Donna and other non-child-free people as collateral; too often, though, I don’t see them taking the time to do that (30% as much fun!–I will never get tired of that, never ever, it is totally the best). But now that I understand what had been confusing me before, I can see that it certainly has not been your intention to do that, which is where I think our communication had been falling down before, at least for me.

        Kristen J.,

        Thanks for making that distinction. I’m going to think about it for a bit, both in general, and with respect to my own life.

      • Lolagirl says:

        To further clarify, I am not of the ‘child-free’ mentality, I am of the I don’t happen to have children’ mentality but the reason I defend commenters like Amanda (on this specific issue, that is,) is because throughout my wife’s 30′s she was constantly coming home from events with friends and family and being in tears due to feeling like a let down or selfish or whatever. So when I see someone who’s attitude comes off like ‘Fuck you, I’m happy not to have children,’ I see that fuck you directed at the people who made my wife feel like shit, not directed at people like you or the mothers who comment here.

        Steve, I get your anger at how your wife was treated by those assholes. I think you know that I struggled for a long time with infertility before I actually had my kids. I’ve also experienced the extremes of people either assuming I was selfish and a jerk who didn’t like children, or a selfish bitch who was not accepting my lot in life and/or just adopting(!) when I would finally fess up to my infertility. It sucks, and it still stings after all these years remembering back on it. I get you adopting a fuck you defiance in the face of that, it makes total sense.

        The thing is that people like Amanda are not on your side, and they are most definitely not on mine either. I actually used to comment regularly on her blog and went a couple of rounds with her on the issue of IVF (you know me, the selfish fool wasting personal energy and scientific resources on the pursuit of something as anti-feminist and useless as spawning) before I gave up and migrated my way over here. She has nothing like the personal pain of your wife in her opposition to parenting or people who supposedly pressure her to do so. Please keep that in mind when you have her back, because she doesn’t have yours, or your wife’s and certainly not mine when it comes to feminist issues.

      • Fat Steve says:

        The thing is that people like Amanda are not on your side, and they are most definitely not on mine either. I actually used to comment regularly on her blog and went a couple of rounds with her on the issue of IVF (you know me, the selfish fool wasting personal energy and scientific resources on the pursuit of something as anti-feminist and useless as spawning) before I gave up and migrated my way over here. She has nothing like the personal pain of your wife in her opposition to parenting or people who supposedly pressure her to do so. Please keep that in mind when you have her back, because she doesn’t have yours, or your wife’s and certainly not mine when it comes to feminist issues.

        I’m actually chuckling at the thought of having Amanda’s back both figuratively and literally (though I would imagine hers isn’t covered in wispy ginger hair.) I really only get involved her comments when they hit one specific aspect of the children issue (i.e. when people attack her for saying she is happy/proud/glad that she doesn’t have children.’) There are commenters here like Bagelsan, with whom I seem to be in agreement on the subject of children much more. Even then it’s not like I give them little affirmations like ‘quoted for truth’ or ‘you hit the nail on the head, sister.’

        However, when Jill or anyone posts something describing bad behavior and someone (usually Amanda,) says ‘this is why I’m happy/glad/proud not to have children,’ I will defend that concept against attack. I’m not defending the person who says it, I’m defending the idea that people who have chosen not to have children have a right to be happy/glad/proud about it. I’m not taking the personality involved into question, just arguing from the side I’d naturally argue from, but I’d also like to think that my sort of response is somewhat more sensitive than Amanda’s without having to try.

      • Lolagirl says:

        You seem to have missed my point entirely, Steve.

        Look, you portrayed yourself as not being in the same CFBC crowd as Amanda (the one that is unapologetically and obstreporously vocal about never, ever having wanted to have kids at any point in life.) I was responding to that in particular. And you know as well as I do that context actually does matter. Amanda pops in and says, hey look at that, I’m so happy I don’t have kids, when we’re discussing something that negatively impacts mothers or parenting in general. That’s just shitty. If it was a discussion of something like cancer, and a commenter bopped in and said, see, that’s why I don’t smoke, I’m so glad I’ll never get lung cancer! I would certainly hope you would conclude that comment was egregiously rude and cold-hearted.

        And yes, I’m using an extreme example here. But honestly, what is it supposed to add to the discussion about parents being harrassed and shamed for breastfeeding or being out in public or on an airplane or whatever to say, see, that’s while I’ll never have kids! Because you know and I know it’s about expressing how superior and more enlightened she is for not getting herself into the same class as those of us who do reproduce. If you think it isn’t, then you’re kidding yourself.

      • Natalia says:

        And you know as well as I do that context actually does matter. Amanda pops in and says, hey look at that, I’m so happy I don’t have kids, when we’re discussing something that negatively impacts mothers or parenting in general. That’s just shitty. If it was a discussion of something like cancer, and a commenter bopped in and said, see, that’s why I don’t smoke, I’m so glad I’ll never get lung cancer! I would certainly hope you would conclude that comment was egregiously rude and cold-hearted.

        Yeah, next time you guys settle down to discuss, say, sexual harassment in the service industry, I’ll just pop in and say, “Gee, I’m glad I’m too good to work as a waiter! Ha ha, sucks for the rest of you!”

        Discuss injured veterans coming back from war: “Gee, I’m glad I’m too enlightened to join something as fucking stupid as the army! Ha ha, sucks for the rest of you!”

        Discuss the illness of a beloved pet: “Gee, I’m glad I’m too smart to ever get attached to some stupid cat! Ha ha, sucks for the rest of you!”

        Discuss your home being flooded: “Gee, I’m glad I don’t own property in a low-lying area! Ha ha, sucks for the rest of you!”

        Etc.

      • Jill says:

        Has Amanda commented on this thread? No. So let’s leave the Amanda-bashing to places where she’s actually said something you find offensive.

      • Lolagirl says:

        Discuss injured veterans coming back from war: “Gee, I’m glad I’m too enlightened to join something as fucking stupid as the army! Ha ha, sucks for the rest of you!”

        No joke. Except, wait, wasn’t the argument here on Feministe last week or so that they deserved to have their linbs blown off for joining the military in the first place?

      • Fat Steve says:

        Leaving out people who aren’t commenting on this thread, I just want to make something clear.

        I would not have the same attitude if some had commented ‘this is why I’m happy not have kids’ in response to a post where a blogger detailed a child’s illness, or the sadness of a child killed in a car accident, rather than a story of a child behaving obnoxiously in a restaurant. I really don’t like the implication that I don’t get the difference.

        I did not defend anyone who came up with the ‘serves them right for joining the army’ argument a few weeks back in an article about disabled soldiers. However if there was an article about how horrible the food tastes in mess halls or how ugly the new army uniform was, well then I would be fine with someone saying ‘that’s why I’m happy I’m not in an Army.’

        Again, I’m not defending any particular poster, merely explaining my reaction to a certain type of post.

      • Miss S says:

        Well mac, everyone seems aware of the women who have to justify not having kids. I thought I would point out that some women have to justify having them. I never suggested all non white women are a monolith.

      • Miss S says:

        I’m starting to get really annoyed by this whole “all white women are told to procreate and all non-whites are told not to” monolith creation.

        I’ve been annoyed by the “all women are told to procreate” myth.

      • Yes, actually, you were generalising when you said “Namely, the not white, not rich ones. ” I get that you weren’t trying to do so, but the actual statement was in fact a generalisation.

        Well mac, everyone seems aware of the women who have to justify not having kids.

        And it never occurs to you that the justifications and questioning that many WOC face isn’t exactly the same as the ones black women do? And that not all of us might have the same reasons for not having kids as upper-class white women, and that the racial dynamic – and the community-imposed consequences for us! – might be really different? Telling me to go stand over there with the rich white women because I’m behaving just like them is a pretty hurtful thing to say, and though I dont’ think that’s your intention, it’s what you’re effectively saying, and it’s erasing large parts of my experience and struggles within my own ethnic community, particularly the ways being not-straight has shaped how people view my planned (biological) childlessness. Please don’t do that. If you’re talking specifically about black and Latina women, specify, please. Asians, and I imagine Middle Easterners, have a whole other experience of being CFBC.

      • DonnaL says:

        based on results, you do not want children any more than Kristen or I do.

        Steve, for the most part you’re an OK guy. But sometimes you’re truly a fucking asshole, you really are.

      • Fat Steve says:

        Steve, for the most part you’re an OK guy. But sometimes you’re truly a fucking asshole, you really are.

        As are we all…Look, I did not mean that comment to be taken the way it’s being taken, and am glad that EG, who I was addressing, understood what I meant.

        However, seeing the way you and mac both instantly pushed back at the comment, I re-read it and realize I could have worded it much more sensitively while making the same point and I apologize to anyone I offended with my assholishness.

      • Bagelsan says:

        I read him as saying that whether or not one has a child is not a good indicator of how much someone wants a child. Which, duh. In fact, he says exactly that. FFS people, read the man’s damn words!

      • EG says:

        Thanks for the apology, Steve. It’s been a lousy week, a particularly bad one for me to be reading this damn essay.

    • Safiya Outlines says:

      1) A google would indicate probably not white. Fair point.

      2)I don’t know how to put this, but you seem to have an awful fondness for articles (usually viewpoints of the privileged in NYT) that portray mothers as being a bit thick. We’ve had the one about stupid mothers wanting hippie births, stupid mothers letting women down by not working outside the home and making lots of $$$$ and now stupid mothers not realising that kids cost $$$$. I’m starting to see a pattern here. For what it’s worth, I am a mother, know mothers, hand out on the odd parenting forum – yes, mothers do think about how much having a child will cost, even *gasp* prior to getting pregnant.

      3)I don’t think I’m alone in not being arsed about why people don’t want to have children. Lolagirl made a good point up thread about the “good for you” being a stock response. Anyway, the author could have been very clear that she didn’t want kids because she wants a certain lifestyle, without implying that mothers were stupid. It is possible to describe your choices without insulting those made by other people.

      4)Indeed, but articles like this which shore up the concept that mothers are stupid and lesser than + that having a child is lifestyle choice/frippery will do absolutely nothing to change things. I remember one particularly glib comment on here that women only wanted children to produce a little person who looked like them. Do you think someone like that is going to march/protest/campaign for better maternity care, family friendly working etc? Do you think an article like this would make them do so, because I don’t.

      • EG says:

        We’ve had the one about stupid mothers wanting hippie births, stupid mothers letting women down by not working outside the home and making lots of $$$$ and now stupid mothers not realising that kids cost $$$$.

        Don’t forget the ones about stupid mothers destroying the environment with their wanton reproduction and lack of community-minded ethics.

      • chava says:

        Or the neverending parade of Babies! In! Public! Fetch my smelling salts.

        Or Toddlers! Breastfeeding! Call the shrinks!

      • Lolagirl says:

        And all the strollers, with actual babies in them, being pushed down the streets, in public!

      • Donna L says:

        And all the strollers, with actual babies in them, being pushed down the streets, in public!

        And being brought into restaurants, where they get in everyone’s way. Especially those huge strollers in Park Slope.

      • Lolagirl says:

        Gah, strollers in restaurants, in Park Slope!!!!!

        I swear that thread made me want to drag my biggest stroller onto the next available flight to NYC just so I could march around Park Slope and laugh at the death stares from passers by.

        I kid, I kid, kinda…

      • Donna L says:

        If you don’t already have more than one baby or toddler, make sure you borrow an extra; two kids in a stroller in Park Slope is always good for making people’s heads explode. Especially if they’re side by side instead of one behind the other.

      • Lolagirl says:

        I got the double side-by-side covered, Donna, and it’s a fancy pants Bugaboo to boot!

        Bonus points for the head explodiness!

        All kidding aside, the last time I was in any NYC restaurants with an infant (this last Spring) everyone was really nice and accomodating. Of course I kept my meanderings to the East Side, so nowhere near the hipsterville Park Slope environs. The only weird part? Apparently the Union Square Cafe only has a baby changing station in the men’s room. Talk about awkward.

      • Jill says:

        I think we’ve got our stereotypes wrong. Park Slope is in no universe hipsterville. Park Slope is parent-and-family-ville, and is the most stereotypically kid-centric neighborhood in the entire city. Hence the hatred of giant strollers — it’s because they’re everywhere, not because the neighborhood is full of young singles.

      • PrettyAmiable says:

        And actually, the East Village is mostly yuppies who wanted to horn in on the hipster lifestyle. Not a lot of baby carriages here.

      • Fat Steve says:

        I think we’ve got our stereotypes wrong. Park Slope is in no universe hipsterville. Park Slope is parent-and-family-ville, and is the most stereotypically kid-centric neighborhood in the entire city. Hence the hatred of giant strollers — it’s because they’re everywhere, not because the neighborhood is full of young singles.

        Not to mention reeking in privilege. There’s a reason why you don’t hear about parents in Downtown Brooklyn in the same way you hear about parents in Park Slope and it’s about privilege and entitlement.

      • chava says:

        Actually, Safiya, EG–I just re-scanned and this article hits the “destroying the planet” one too–

        And if we decide against doing so, it will partly be out of concern for the welfare of others. My husband in particular worries that creating more human lives strains an already overtaxed planet.

        Show me someone who really wanted kids and didn’t do it because The Planet, and I will eat my hat. (And fwiw, I’m a loud, proud environmentalist)

      • Hi.

        Of course, I never wanted biokids, so I guess I’m not really your argument.

      • Catherine says:

        I know some couples who had environmental concerns in mind when they decided HOW MANY children to have (they kept it to 2, in order to add net zero to the population), but you’re right, I have yet to meet anyone who wanted kids and forewent doing so for environmental reasons.

      • Bagelsan says:

        My sister says “hi” too.

        How’s hat taste?

      • chava says:

        Sorry mac, I should have specified biokids.

        Bagelsan, that’s really unusual IME. But I guess vegans who love meat exist, so there you go.

        (cue outraged vegans in 5…4….3)

      • Yes, chava, but I *did*, as a child, consider my plan of fostering to be a way of caring for environmental burdens someone else gave the world but didn’t want to handle themselves, so. (I’m aware this statement is callous towards some people giving their kids up for fostering for reasons other than abuse, but I was 13 at the time *shrug* who wasn’t an asshole at 13?)

    • Chataya says:

      The Nadia Taha I pulled up on Google is a member of the National Arab American Journalists Association, which lists her parents as members of the Palestinian diaspora. As a side note, she lists her heritage as her motivation for entering journalism since Arab American voices are under-represented in public life.

    • EG says:

      honestly no, I don’t think people realize just how much money it takes to raise kids. Yes, they know it’s expensive. But do most women realize that having a kid results in lower wages, even if you keep working? Do people realize that it’s expensive to the tune of more than a million dollars? I actually don’t think so.

      I think you’re mistaken. First of all, most people aren’t spending a million and a half bucks on each kid. That may be what wealthy people who send their kids to private school spend, but throwing around that figure like it’s some kind of accurate prerequisite for all or even most figure strikes me as dishonest.

      Second, I just think you’re wrong, and you’re really assuming that people who want kids are somehow stupid. Yes, we know it costs money. A lot of money. I’ve known lots of people who’ve had kids, and not one has ever been shocked, shocked to find that finances are massively tighter than ever before.

      As to biting back the defensiveness, I’d be happy to do that when women who don’t want children present their reasons in ways that don’t imply that hey, they’re the first and only people to think of these things.

      • Jill says:

        She’s not implying that she’s the FIRST one to think of these things. She cites studies on these things, so obviously she doesn’t think she’s the first. She’s saying that these are her reasons. And pointing out a fact does not mean that you think the people who may not realize that fact are stupid. Like whenever I read the 3,000th article on how law school is ridiculously expensive and many law school grads don’t realize that it does not actually set you up for a guaranteed law firm career and debt repayment, I don’t think to myself, “Clearly they just think everyone considering going to law school is STUPID.” I realize that lots of people understand the basics (law school costs money, a job isn’t a guarantee, you’re graduating with tons of debt and potentially limited prospects) but maybe don’t know the full picture. Even when it comes to parenting, the studies on how children impact your long-term earnings are very new, and a lot of the info we have is incomplete. I think the article is actually pretty detailed in setting out the myriad ways that parenting impacts your finances, and points to issues that lots of people who think about having or not having kids (myself included) haven’t thought about. Not because we’re dumb — everyone knows kids cost money and impact your finances — but because the extent of that impact is not obvious or even fully known.

      • chava says:

        Except I don’t see, anywhere, where she makes your point 4 above.

        Instead we get this:

        MOST people want to be sure that they can buy and pay for a home, save up for an emergency fund and enjoy a comfortable retirement. They will go to great lengths to meet those goals, and they make life choices accordingly.

        With no comment about how, hey, maybe you should be able to do [some of] those things while still having the temerity to reproduce. Maybe women shouldn’t face a lifetime earnings drop, etc etc. Maybe this is a societal problem that requires pretty massive attention. But instead of how she can change that, she presents those who choose TO have children as fiscally irresponsible.

        If you don’t want children, do not have them. But don’t justify your decision by throwing women who do under the bus. (and vice versa, obvs.)

      • EG says:

        My husband and I, both in our late 20s, share those kinds of goals with others like us, but it seems obvious that the single decision that can best help us achieve them is one that many newly married, affluent young adults don’t usually consider: Don’t have children.

        Really, Jill? You don’t think she’s implying that she is somehow special in realizing this, that others don’t? I mean, which is it? She’s not saying she’s the FIRST, but she’s saying that she’s one of the few. And yes, I do think that’s condescending and patronizing, just as I would feel that way if there were a slew of mainstream articles rabbiting on about how getting a PhD means making 15K for several years and there are fewer and fewer tenure-track jobs out there. Not because it’s not true, but because, believe me, by the time you enter a PhD program in the humanities, you know.

        The difference is, we don’t have a whole misogynist cultural narrative telling us that people who get PhDs in the humanities are useless and unthinking.

      • Jill says:

        Really, Jill? You don’t think she’s implying that she is somehow special in realizing this, that others don’t? I mean, which is it? She’s not saying she’s the FIRST, but she’s saying that she’s one of the few. And yes, I do think that’s condescending and patronizing, just as I would feel that way if there were a slew of mainstream articles rabbiting on about how getting a PhD means making 15K for several years and there are fewer and fewer tenure-track jobs out there. Not because it’s not true, but because, believe me, by the time you enter a PhD program in the humanities, you know.

        My reading of that is that she’s saying when most newly-married 20-somethings sit down and plan out how they can plan for retirement and lead the kind of life they want, most do not seriously consider “Let’s just not have children” as an obvious option. Most couples, at least anecdotally in my experience, want kids; the having kids is assumed. When budgeting and whatnot, the question is when, not if. And I think that’s borne out in statistics, no? Since most people do end up having kids?

        And yes, I do think that’s condescending and patronizing, just as I would feel that way if there were a slew of mainstream articles rabbiting on about how getting a PhD means making 15K for several years and there are fewer and fewer tenure-track jobs out there. Not because it’s not true, but because, believe me, by the time you enter a PhD program in the humanities, you know.

        Ok… but how do you know, if not for articles about the issue?

      • Jill says:

        Also, if you read the comments here, you will see that there are indeed people who either didn’t consider the financial implications of having children or were surprised by them.

        You’ll also see commenters calling her selfish, egotistical, telling her she’ll change her mind, encouraging her to consider adopting, and talking all about how kids are the best thing to ever happen to them and she will be eternally missing out on the joy only a child can bring.

        When parents write about how having a kid changed their life or fostered a sense of responsibility or helped them to get on track or made their lives better, I rarely see anyone jump down their throats for “implying” that people without children are irresponsible or lead less-good lives. But when this woman writes about why she doesn’t want to have children, the fact that finances are her reason means she’s assuming no parents think about the financials and the ones who decide to have kids anyway are stupid? I just don’t buy that.

      • EG says:

        Ok… but how do you know, if not for articles about the issue?

        Because every single professor you ask for a recommendation tells you. Because all the professional organizations tell you. Because orientation at any graduate program tells you. Your best source of info is not actually first-person essays in the NYT.

        But when this woman writes about why she doesn’t want to have children, the fact that finances are her reason means she’s assuming no parents think about the financials and the ones who decide to have kids anyway are stupid?

        No. The fact that she writes that paragraph I quoted above means that.

        Link to an article by a self-righteous parent, and I’ll trash that as well. And comments, really? Comments are always full of assholes. You think that if she’d written about how she chose to have children, the comments wouldn’t be full of assholes castigating and being condescending to her about that?

        Most couples, at least anecdotally in my experience, want kids; the having kids is assumed. When budgeting and whatnot, the question is when, not if. And I think that’s borne out in statistics, no? Since most people do end up having kids?

        Or the stats might mean that couples think about it and decide to have kids because they want them. It does happen.

        Anecdotally, most couples I know do not assume they’ll have kids. Off the top of my head, I think I know more couples without kids than couples with. So that’s where anecdotes will get us.

      • Lolagirl says:

        My reading of that is that she’s saying when most newly-married 20-somethings sit down and plan out how they can plan for retirement and lead the kind of life they want, most do not seriously consider “Let’s just not have children” as an obvious option.

        And she knows this how, exactly? Because it sure sounds to me like she looked around at her friends and coworkers and extrapolated accordingly to get to the conclusion she wanted to make.

        Here’s the thing that is so silly about this whole discussion, this author seems to be assuming that more people would inevitably arrive at the same conclusions as her if only they were more deliberate and stopped to seriously weigh the pros and cons. Concluding that other people would do the same thing you did if they only thought like you is insulting and patronizing, because it assumes that your opinions are the only correct and enlightened opinions to have.

      • EG says:

        Because it sure sounds to me like she looked around at her friends and coworkers and extrapolated accordingly to get to the conclusion she wanted to make.

        Yes. She didn’t say “I seem to be the only one of my friends who isn’t gung-ho about having kids, and one of my major concerns is finances.” She said it’s obvious to me and many people don’t think about it. That’s a completely different tone.

        And add me as another person who sees no trace of #4 in her essay at all. She doesn’t question the way the system is set up or consider its effects on people who want different things. She just accepts it.

    • Past my expiration date says:

      Jill, you said

      4. I read this article and didn’t think, “Man what a condescending jerk!”

      But almost every person who regularly comments from the parent perspective* on Feministe posts about children has now commented to say that they read the article and DID think, “Man what a condescending jerk!”

      *this includes people who are not parents

      • DonnaL says:

        Exactly. But, remarkably, I guess every single one of us is being defensive and reading things into the author’s “tone” that aren’t really there. Jill, you’re not in the category of people being condescended to, so it’s hardly surprising that you wouldn’t see it.

      • Lolagirl says:

        Yep, that about covers it, PMED!

    • zuzu says:

      2. Agreed that this reads as slightly condescending, but honestly no, I don’t think people realize just how much money it takes to raise kids. Yes, they know it’s expensive. But do most women realize that having a kid results in lower wages, even if you keep working? Do people realize that it’s expensive to the tune of more than a million dollars? I actually don’t think so. And when you realize that a lot of the big-ticket items — health insurance, college education, even pre-college ed for the rich folks — are things that other countries provide all families for free, it’s infuriating.

      More to the point, the angle she’s taking in this story is that the most common calculators for costs of raising a child exclude some of those big-ticket items as well as foregone income, so that the actual cost of raising a kid is obscured. So when she says that most people don’t realize the cost of raising a kid, she’s not being condescending, she’s giving the calculations.

      It’s easy for the cost of stuff to be obscured. Hell, I realized with a jolt the other day that because I have a dogwalker and have for years, I will wind up forking out well over $30K for my dog’s care in her lifetime. $10 a weekday doesn’t seem like much, and I can afford it, but when you add it up — and I’m not even counting vet care, boarding and food in that figure — it’s a little shocking. And I don’t even have to send her to college.

    • tinfoil hattie says:

      I have two kids, and I know exactly how much it costs to raise them. And it’s not $1.7 million, for sure.

      Parents are not automatically stupid. If people who have no children and do not want them are smart enough to figure out that adding people to a family costs money, how do you figure that people who do have kids are somehow too stupid to figure it out?

      • Jill says:

        Parents are not automatically stupid. If people who have no children and do not want them are smart enough to figure out that adding people to a family costs money, how do you figure that people who do have kids are somehow too stupid to figure it out?

        I don’t figure that, and never said or implied it. But enjoy your strawman.

      • tinfoil hattie says:

        honestly no, I don’t think people realize just how much money it takes to raise kids. Yes, they know it’s expensive. But do most women realize that having a kid results in lower wages, even if you keep working? Do people realize that it’s expensive to the tune of more than a million dollars? I actually don’t think so.

        Which way do you want it, Jill? Which “people” don’t realize this? How is it that you, and the OP, and millions of other “people” have somehow been smart enough to figure this out, but other “people” (like people who actually have kids, maybe, or people who are thinking about having them) are too stupid (oops – I meant ignorant, or just not NYT readers, or maybe just uneducated) to figure it out?

        Several other commenters here had a similar interpretationof your words, and found the OP condescending. We must all be creating “straw men,” I guess.

      • EG says:

        Do people realize that it’s expensive to the tune of more than a million dollars?

        Actually, I’m going to pick this quotation out now. Seriously? You think that’s what it costs for most people? At my current income, which is a reasonably professional white-collar income, it would take me…almost 30 years to earn the 1.7 million dollar figure this writer suggests. I can probably look forward to some raises in future years, so lets call it 20, even. Do you honestly think that people who make what I do–or, hey, less–spend 20 years’ salary on raising their children? If so, what do they eat?

      • Lolagirl says:

        Do people realize that it’s expensive to the tune of more than a million dollars?

        Yeah, I addressed this in one of my other comments in this discussion. There is just no effing way that having a kid is that expensive. Well, I supposed it might be if you insist on getting the bestest, fanciest luxuries and everything there is for your kid. But that’s all about having affluenza, and has nothing to do with the financial implications involved for the average family in caring for and raising a child through to adulthood.

      • EG says:

        And I was calculating from my actual salary, not from my take home. God knows how long it would actually take me to earn that. Well, let me check: OK, closer to 40 years. So let’s say, with some raises, 30. Just, no. No way. That’s not some kind of irreducible figure. I doubt it’s even an average.

      • Lolagirl says:

        Also? It’s just flat out elitism to assume people actually will have $1M (or $1.7M, as Ms. Taha actually concluded) to pony up over the lifetime of their kid. That conclusion and the assumptions underlying it are ludicrous.

        I actually think it’s really important to call this out as elitist, because that sort of logic gets used all the time by boostrappy, conservative types all the time as to why those people (which always means minorities, poc, single parents, and single sex, “non-traditional” couples) should not be having kids in the first place. It’s a dangerous path, saying people shouldn’t he having kids if they can’t afford it, because the measure of this capacity is extremely subjective and so utterly open to abuse. I just don’t really see the worth in even going there.

      • DonnaL says:

        I strongly agree — as someone with a 22-year old son — with everything EG, Lolagirl and Hattie have said. Also, too: adding in college costs doesn’t make it add up to $1.7 million either ($3.4 million for two kids! $5.1 million for three!), no matter what the article’s author thinks. The overwhelming majority of college students in the USA don’t go to schools that cost $50,000 per annum. And the overwhelming majority of students that do go to the most expensive schools don’t have parents who are able (or willing) to pay full freight by shelling out $200,000 over four years. It doesn’t work that way. Financial aid + (unfortunately) student loans is how most people manage.

        Sure, if you live on the Upper East Side and pay $35,000 per annum private school tuition from nursery school forward, and Temple School tuition, and summer vacations to Europe and winter vacations to the Caribbean, and $8,000 every year for summer camp, and all the private ballet and piano and horseback riding lessons, and throw the kid a $100,000 bar or bat mitzvah, and pay a nanny $50,000 every year and/or one spouse quits her $150,000 per year job and never goes back and you take the present value of 21 years of that, and you throw in mortgage payments because you wouldn’t have bought the house if not for the kid, you can get to any number you want. But I don’t know anyone who actually fits into that category. It’s as if the article is meant for couples who already have combined annual incomes of $200,000 at a minimum from the time they’re in their late 20’s. My ex and I have never made anything close to that in our lives in a year, separately or together, even though we’re both in our 50’s and I’m a lawyer with two Ivy League degrees who grew up on the Upper East Side, and she has similar credentials and grew up in Northern New Jersey and her father was a doctor and mine a lawyer, and we’re Jewish, and we’re supposed to be in the Times’s target demographic. In other words, the premise is nonsensical for most people.

      • Fat Steve says:

        It’s as if the article is meant for couples who already have combined annual incomes of $200,000 at a minimum from the time they’re in their late 20′s. My ex and I have never made anything close to that in our lives in a year, separately or together, even though we’re both in our 50′s and I’m a lawyer with two Ivy League degrees who grew up on the Upper East Side, and she has similar credentials and grew up in Northern New Jersey and her father was a doctor and mine a lawyer, and we’re Jewish, and we’re supposed to be in the Times’s target demographic. In other words, the premise is nonsensical for most people.

        OK, I am only admitting this because it’s relevant to the discussion, and I’m not attempting to flaunt my privilege, but self and wife have been in that economic bracket since at least our mid-30’s. However, the economic argument has nothing to do with why or why not we wouldn’t consider children. Does this make her premise wrong? I don’t know, actually. She’s certainly right in our case when she speaks of affluent potential parents who don’t consider the costs of having a child. When we were in our mid-20’s and I was a writing assistant and my wife was a law student, we were certain that we couldn’t have kids until we had a more sound financial footing. Once we became more ‘affluent,’ we no longer considered the financial implications of many things.

        So yes, Donna, you are 100% right to say that the article is nonsensical for ‘most people,’ but is it nonsensical for ‘most affluent people’? Who are after all the target audience.

      • tinfoil hattie says:

        That’s some kick-ass calculation, DonnaL. I couldn’t figure out enough ways to get to $1.5 million!

        I guess what the author might really mean is, rich people shouldn’t have kids.

        BTW, just to allay some fears about education costs: community college. First two years there, transfer to a state school, work and earn money to help pay for one’s own tuition – a workable method for people too wealthy to qualify for financial aid but not wealthy enough to shell out the legendary $50k per year for college.

      • DonnaL says:

        So yes, Donna, you are 100% right to say that the article is nonsensical for ‘most people,’ but is it nonsensical for ‘most affluent people’? Who are after all the target audience.

        Yes, I think it is, because I don’t believe for a minute that even most affluent people spend that much money on each child, unless you define “affluent” to mean both wealthy on practically a 1% level, and ridiculously extravagant. Which I don’t. After all, I’m “affluent” compared to the majority of people in the USA (even though I don’t come near the income level I mentioned, and even though I’ve had medical expenses far exceeding most people’s), but there’s no possible way of getting close to that $1.7 million total in terms of the dollars spent on my son over the last 22 years and going forward — including opportunity costs, and including four years of college. (Regarding the post-college housing costs one person mentioned, who pays their kid’s rent after they’ve graduated from college? Not I, and not anyone else I know. That’s what moving back home until you can afford to pay for a place yourself is for!)

        And even if you do define “affluent” to mean wealthy, and even if that’s who the author had in mind, it doesn’t make me happy to think that the Times would print an article in its “Your Money” feature that’s intended only for people like that, since I doubt that even the average young couple reading the Times has a combined annual income in excess of $200,000.

        Sep

      • DonnaL says:

        Separately, Steve, I want to apologize for using the epithet I directed towards you earlier. I truly believed from what you said that your refusal to recognize the distinction between child-free and childless, and your refusal simply to accept it when EG told you that she didn’t identify as the former, were knowing and deliberate. Now that I know that it was all based on a misunderstanding, I take back what I said.

        Plus, calling people names almost never makes me feel better, even when it’s justified, and usually ends up only making me feel disappointed in myself. For example, the other day on another forum that I should probably avoid, some guy, despite knowing about my history, asked me if I was “man enough” to read some article he linked to supposedly proving the superiority of conservatives over liberals. I responded by calling him a bigoted creep, and telling him what he could do with himself, but all that accomplished was to make me feel that I’d sunk to his level, and to allow him to play innocent by saying that it was “just an expression,” and accusing me of engaging in personal attacks, etc. It didn’t make me feel one bit better, or prevent me from having nightmares about people thinking I’m a man.

        So, I’m sorry.

      • Kristen J. says:

        @Donna,

        Did you look at her breakdown of how she came to that figure? She wasn’t looking at expensive private schools or private universities. She looked at day care expenses in her neighborhood, the expected costs of half of the tuition at a public university in the next few decades, and the actual increase in costs under her insurance plan. The biggest chunk of her estimate actual came from expected loss in salary over the course of her life (700k) as most mothers earn substanially less over the course of their lives than non-mothers.

        This isn’t the case of a person thinking about providing extravegances to her potential children. I feel like the people talking about how affluent she is didn’t actually read her discussion of her income and the costs she was looking at as evinced by this discussion of private schools, summer camps, and european vacations…none of which were included in that figure.

      • Jill says:

        This isn’t the case of a person thinking about providing extravegances to her potential children. I feel like the people talking about how affluent she is didn’t actually read her discussion of her income and the costs she was looking at as evinced by this discussion of private schools, summer camps, and european vacations…none of which were included in that figure.

        Also? She’s a newspaper reporter. I don’t know what her husband does, but I know what reporter salaries are. She’s certainly financially secure, but I think calling her “affluent” is a stretch. Especially in a city like New York, where a dollar goes about half as far as everywhere else in the country.

      • igglanova says:

        I think the most frustrating thing about this entire thread was how few of the most vehement detractors of this article actually read it in detail. Or at all.

      • EG says:

        But again, 700K in lost wages? I should be so lucky.

        Setting aside the lost wages, that’s 1 million dollars. And again, that’s an absurd figure for most of us. That’s over 20 years of my current salary. Most parents simply aren’t spending that much, and it’s disingenuous to suggest that they are.

        This isn’t the case of a person thinking about providing extravegances to her potential children.

        Perhaps we’re getting the impression that it is due to her imagining how heart-rending it must be not to be able to provide the “best of everything” to one’s children. Most parents can’t, after all.

      • WL says:

        No offense, but if I were a kid that had to be born to someone, I’d rather be born to someone who insists on good care for me even if it costs them, rather than “my salary is low so you’ll take what I decide to give you, and if that makes you a miserable and/or ill person, too bad.”

        I interpreted “best” as in “most likely to result in the child’s health, current well-being, and future life worth living,” not as in “most expensive.” But people will misinterpret and twist words how they will.

      • DonnaL says:

        Or perhaps, Igglanova, we did read it and still disagree with the assertions it contains.

        WL:

        “my salary is low so you’ll take what I decide to give you, and if that makes you a miserable and/or ill person, too bad.”

        But people will misinterpret and twist words how they will.

        Exactly.

      • EG says:

        Why do I assume the couple is affluent? Well, there’s this:

        I stuck with the Agriculture Department’s figures for the cost of food, transit, clothing and miscellaneous expenses (personal care items, entertainment, reading materials) for children in a two-parent household in the urban Northeast with a combined income of over $103,350.

        Well, yes, I would call a double income in six figures “affluent.” Perhaps I’m just so lower-class that I don’t understand her problems, though.

        And since we would probably not cut off our child financially once he or she reached the age of majority, I added the cost of the basics (housing, clothing, food, transportation and health care) between age 18 and 25.

        What? What? “Not cutting your kid off” somehow morphs here into completely supporting another adult’s housing, clothing, food, transportation, and health expenses. I do not know anybody who was completely supported by their parents like this from 18 to 25. Is expecting your 18-year-old to have a part-time job somehow unheard-of? How about your 23-year-old? Is expecting him/her to support him/herself just too out there? My parents didn’t buy me clothing when I was 18–I had clothing already from the years that they did. I was lucky enough that they chipped in for big items that I couldn’t afford–new snow boots after the dog ate mine, for example–but if I wanted a skirt or a set of stockings, I paid for them myself.

        And then there’s that nonsense about how having a child means that you spend money on a family pet–seriously? If you have kids and can’t afford a pet…you don’t get a pet. It’s hardly the worst deprivation any kid will endure. Maybe that sounds like a terrible hardship to those commenters who are giving her the benefit of the doubt on what “the very best of everything” means, but moments like that strongly suggest to me that her definition of the “the best of everything” sure isn’t mine.

      • Jill says:

        Well, yes, I would call a double income in six figures “affluent.” Perhaps I’m just so lower-class that I don’t understand her problems, though.

        Assuming this couple makes roughly the same amount of money, a double income of just over 100,000 puts each of them at just over $50,000. That is not affluent. It’s not poor and it’s not struggling, but considering the cost of living in NYC with a kid and a partner (a 2-bedroom apartment in a neighborhood with good schools, transportation, childcare, preschool, groceries, etc etc etc) $100,000 a year actually does not stretch all that far, especially if you have any educational or other debt/expenditures. Do people do it on much less? Of course. Does that mean it’s somehow elitist or out-of-touch or asshole-ish to point out that even $100,000 between three people in this city is not a lot? No. It’s realistic.

      • EG says:

        “my salary is low so you’ll take what I decide to give you, and if that makes you a miserable and/or ill person, too bad.”

        Yep, that’s totally how it was in my household when I was growing up. After denying me a private school education, my parents would beat me with whips and make me go sleep in the unheated coal cellar. Not that we had a coal cellar, of course, but they made sure to find one and put me in it. Because if you’re not rich, you just don’t care about your kids.

      • Fat Steve says:

        Separately, Steve, I want to apologize for using the epithet I directed towards you earlier. I truly believed from what you said that your refusal to recognize the distinction between child-free and childless, and your refusal simply to accept it when EG told you that she didn’t identify as the former, were knowing and deliberate. Now that I know that it was all based on a misunderstanding, I take back what I said.

        Apology accepted and unnecessary. To be honest if anyone here should be offended at my attitude towards ‘kids.’ it’s you: because the ‘kids’ I am constantly complaining about ruining my neighborhood are the twenty something hipsters of your son’s generation.

      • Kristen J. says:

        @Donna,

        Okay, if you read it why do you keep saying things that are factually inaccurate?

        @EG,

        Of that $1M figure. $435k is what the department of agriculture says *people actually spend* on raising a kid. She adjusted that based on the specificis of cost of child care in her area as published by ACS which comes out to about $64k just for the years until preschool. Her health care plan would increase her premiums alone by $88k.

        These are not ridiculous assumptions based on silver spoons. Unless somehow the cost of living in a place “with higher security, a more responsive landlord, reliable heat and better stroller-accessibility” became a silver spoon when I wasn’t looking.

        Can parents raise kids on less? Sure. I was homeless as a child and lived in places with no toilets or running water. I survived to be a happy, healthy human being…but that is not the basis I would use to evaluate the financial impact of having children. In fact I would probably start with what the Department of Ag says people actually spend and then adjust it with the costs I would actually be looking at in my area like how much the city says day care costs and what my insurance plan would charge me for a dependent…

      • Kristen J. says:

        Also two people earning $103k in NY is not affluent. They aren’t starving, they aren’t to be pittied, but pilloring her as elitist and out of touch is a bit absurd.

      • EG says:

        Assuming this couple makes roughly the same amount of money, a double income of just over 100,000 puts each of them at just over $50,000.

        Yes, yes, I can divide 103K by two as well, and I maintain that a couple in their early twenties bringing in over 100K a year is “affluent.” In fact, the writer seems to agree with me, as she describes the couples to whom she is comparing herself and her husband, her peer group, as “newly married, affluent young adults.” The idea that it just isn’t economically feasible for such a couple to have a baby is absurd.

        I would probably start with what the Department of Ag says people actually spend and then adjust it with the costs I would actually be looking at in my area like how much the city says day care costs and what my insurance plan would charge me for a dependent

        OK, well, I wouldn’t bother with the Department of Ag. I would ask the people I know who are actually parents how much things are costing them, and then I would look into what childcare would cost me based on my options–daycare is not actually the only possibility out there, as any parent who is not spending 1 million dollars on raising a kid can tell you.

        I live in NYC. I know people who have had children. They’re just not spending that much on childcare, and their children are still living in homes with running water.

      • EG says:

        Sorry, that should be “late twenties.”

      • DonnaL says:

        By the way, speaking of factually inaccurate: the author of the article never, ever says that she and her husband have a combined income of $103,000. She says that they fall into the category of people who make more than that.

        How much more, she doesn’t say, but it’s obviously enough more than that for her to classify herself and her husband as “affluent.”

        So let’s not be so quick to absolve her of being elitist and out of touch, or to suggest that those of us who commented on her condescension were being “absurd.”

      • Kristen J. says:

        She also says she’s at the low end of that spectrum and yes vilifying her based on that income level is absurd.

      • Kristen J. says:

        Okay, let me dial back a minute and explain, because I did loose my temper and I don’t think we disagree on the big stuff.

        I know a lot of people who as a couple make around $100k and who feel like they are struggling to make ends meet because, yes, they do spend this much money on their kids. And yes, they do want to be able to pay for their kids tuition in college. And yes, they do pay for “extravegances” like piano lessons and school trips.

        They aren’t bad parents or out of touch elitists. And it feels like you’re saying they are.

      • DonnaL says:

        She also says she’s at the low end of that spectrum and yes vilifying her based on that income level is absurd.

        1. No, she does not say that. She says they make “less than the average” for the category of people who make more than $103,000. Just what do you think that average is?

        2. Calling someone condescending is hardly vilification. Not one person in this thread has been nearly as personally insulting towards this writer as you have repeatedly and consistently been towards the people in this thread who disagree with you. So, yes, dialing back on your part would be a very good idea, I think.

      • Kristen J. says:

        Not one person in this thread has been nearly as personally insulting towards this writer as you have repeatedly and consistently been towards the people in this thread who disagree with you.

        Wow. Blockquote a single personal insult by me directed at anyone on this thread.

      • DonnaL says:

        Equating the people who disagree with you to the “anti-science crowd”? Dismissing what I and others have had to say about our actual expenses as our “gut feelings” on what we’ve spent? Have you ever been through a divorce with a child? Have you ever sat down and figured out every single penny of your expenditures over a period of several years, for purposes of child support and other calculations? I have. Until you have, don’t you dare be so dismissive.

        There’s two for you. That’s more than enough.

      • Kristen J. says:

        You may twist my words as much as you like, but what I said is in the thread.

        I didn’t compare you to the anti-science crowd, I said arguing about statistics with you and others feels like arguing with the anti-science crowd. And noting that you recollection of expenses is based on your “gut feelings” rather than inflation adjusted statistics is not a personal insult unless you definition of personal insult means “this person does not agree with everything I say.”

      • DonnaL says:

        We obviously disagree, and I doubt there’s any point pursuing it further.

      • Bagelsan says:

        OK, well, I wouldn’t bother with the Department of Ag.

        That’s why you’re acting anti-science. Because we’re talking about what “parents” the group spends, not what “DonnaL” spends, so your personal recollections are virtually worthless in the context of this article. It would be like running into a discussion of vaccines and saying that your kid like totally caught the autism, you could tell with your mom powers, and to hell with the actual facts.

      • WL says:

        Well, yes, I would call a double income in six figures “affluent.” Perhaps I’m just so lower-class that I don’t understand her problems, though.

        Everyone has different standards for these things. Perhaps you just perceive yourself to be so far below her that you can’t possibly understand her problems, instead of taking the view that these are differences mostly of degree.

        And “not cutting your kid off” can include supporting their housing, clothing, etc, although they aren’t equivalent. (You know, a square is a rectangle, but not all rectangles are squares.) I do personally know someone who was completely supported by his parents’ money quite a while past 25 years of age (and their threats to kick him out if he doesn’t get a job didn’t make him any healthier or more productive), and I don’t inquire about these things usually (I only know because he’s an exceptionally close friend), but these anecdotes don’t mean much. What does it matter whether you and/or I personally know someone like this or not?

        And in some situations, I would say it’s very “out there” to have an 18 or 23 year old support themselves. In other situations, someone might want to fully support their kid as they go through higher formal education, so the kid isn’t stressed out by financial worries, even if the kid “could” work. (Sure, once upon a time, someone worked AND studied full-time, and were as happy as can be, and learning as fast as can be, and had no ill-effects from chronic sleep deprivations, etc etc. That doesn’t mean all caring parents want to subject their kids to that, hoping they’d be one of those kids who didn’t seem damaged by it.)

        Also nice that you could buy your own clothes. Not every young adult does. Not every parent wants to make them.

        And then there’s that nonsense about how having a child means that you spend money on a family pet–seriously?

        Yeah that is impressively…stupid. There are plenty of ways for kids to learn about non-human animals, and even have lots of hands-on contact, without enslaving a member of another species for their entertainment. “Getting a pet for” a current family member might work out in some families, but it often doesn’t, and the newest family member has to pay the price. “Getting a pet for the kids/spouse/cats/etc” usually means an abused and neglected “pet,” often abandoned later.

        The sad fact is, a lot of people DO want to budget for a “pet” for their kids, if/when they have kids. Like a backyard and a white picket fence, that’s the sort of thing they want to show off after they pop out some babies. People who refuse to change that view, and insist on having kids plus pets for the kids, should follow her advice and take that into consideration.

        BTW, that should also be a consideration for anyone who wants to ensure they can teach their kids that “Sometimes defenseless beings need help. If they reach out to you, and you can help them, it’s a nice thing to do. And if you make them completely dependent on you as part of that aid, you should fulfill your obligations well.”

        To clarify, I think caring people often stay sane-ish by looking the other way, or avoiding places where they’re at risk for seeing needy people in the first place. They might not linger near the empty lot where dogs are frequently dumped, etc. But you can’t fully control where your kid goes or what s/he sees. If s/he comes home carrying a kitten with a broken leg and covered with fleas (perhaps with some other acute injuries and chronic health disorders, let’s throw in some worms for good measure), at what age are you comfortable saying having hir hear from your mouth, “Throw that thing in the garbage, we can’t afford it” or “You can help pathetic homeless kittens see the vet and find homes once you’re older and get a job”?

        Really young kids might be scarred for life when they are forced to discard/kill a feeling bundle of fur (or bundle of scabs) they held in their arms and cried on. It’s not like having the family cat die a natural death after the best of care, or having their playmates move to another city. The grief and loss are there, but you know you did what you could and it’s easier to explain.

        Or maybe I’m just projecting onto other kids after knowing a small sample size. Maybe your kids would be perfectly happy killing a kitten they initially wanted to help. Or they’d cry for 30 seconds and then completely forget about it.

        Yep, that’s totally how it was in my household when I was growing up. After denying me a private school education, my parents would beat me with whips and make me go sleep in the unheated coal cellar. Not that we had a coal cellar, of course, but they made sure to find one and put me in it

        That would be pretty badly abusive if it actually happened. But trying to link them together makes as much sense as “Yep, after denying me daily food, my parents would beat me with whips and make me go sleep in the unheated coal cellar.” That sort of sarcasm doesn’t negate the fact that it is neglectful to leave your child alone in the house for days at a time without a bite of food. Parents don’t have to be evil monsters who do every harm possible in order to perform some harms.

        That sort of logic is used to excuse a lot of horrible behavior. “He’s a good husband who takes care of his family, and it’s not like he hit her HARD or locked her in the coal cellar, lol.” “Psh your parents are nice people, you know they love and care about you, they’re not like the abusers in the newspapers who break their kids’ bones instead of just the skin.”

        Because if you’re not rich, you just don’t care about your kids.

        Not true. Plenty of rich people also don’t care enough about their kids. There are also people who care about their kids but don’t care for them very well, whether they’re rich or not.

        So let’s not be so quick to absolve her of being elitist and out of touch, or to suggest that those of us who commented on her condescension were being “absurd.”

        If you result to ad hominem attacks on the messenger, whether they’re true or not, you know there’s a problem with your view on the message.

        Have you ever been through a divorce with a child? Have you ever sat down and figured out every single penny of your expenditures over a period of several years, for purposes of child support and other calculations? I have. Until you have, don’t you dare be so dismissive.

        So once you have, it’s ok to be dismissive? I hope that’s not what you meant to imply. Just pointing out what you said; you might want to reword things like that in the future.

      • Beatrice says:

        You must really hate reading opinion pieces. I mean, people write things like “life is complicated” or “there are rough times in relationships”, which totes means they think all their readers don’t know that because they’re stupid.

      • Fat Steve says:

        You must really hate reading opinion pieces. I mean, people write things like “life is complicated” or “there are rough times in relationships”, which totes means they think all their readers don’t know that because they’re stupid.

        I knew that already.

      • EG says:

        I mean, people write things like “life is complicated” or “there are rough times in relationships”

        Actually, when that’s the main takeaway from those pieces, I think they’re banal drivel that shouldn’t have been published. So, yep, I do hate that kind of opinion piece. Oh, life is complicated? You don’t say. Thanks for that fascinating insight.

      • Jill says:

        But again, 700K in lost wages? I should be so lucky.

        Setting aside the lost wages, that’s 1 million dollars. And again, that’s an absurd figure for most of us. That’s over 20 years of my current salary. Most parents simply aren’t spending that much, and it’s disingenuous to suggest that they are.

        She’s pretty clear in the linked blog post about how she came to her figures. She’s clear in the article and the post that the numbers she’s using are the numbers that would be relevant to her life — as a young professional in New York City, not sending her kids to private school but still taking a pay cut if she had children. And $700,000 over the course of 40-50 years of employment actually sounds about right for several decades of the motherhood wage gap. We can dislike her because she’s lucky that she’s probably making $70,000-ish a year to have that kind of wage gap, but it doesn’t mean her numbers are off given her salary.

      • EG says:

        as a young professional in New York City, not sending her kids to private school but still taking a pay cut if she had children.

        Guess what I am? A young(ish) professional in NYC who has never once considered sending her kids to private school. And 1,000,000 dollars is still over 20 years of my salary, which is not far from what you’re guessing hers is. She can be as clear as she likes, but that doesn’t mean she’s being realistic.

      • Jill says:

        Guess what I am? A young(ish) professional in NYC who has never once considered sending her kids to private school. And 1,000,000 dollars is still over 20 years of my salary, which is not far from what you’re guessing hers is. She can be as clear as she likes, but that doesn’t mean she’s being realistic.

        Ok. If we assume she makes $70,000 a year — which is actually more than what she makes now, but the longer she works the higher her salary will go, so that’s about where I suspect it will average, if not slightly higher — statistically a dude makes about 10% more, so 77,000. The mom-penalty means she’ll make about 73% of what a dude makes, so $56,210. Meaning that she would be losing $13,790 per year. Multiple that by a 50 year career, and she’s lost $689,500. Which is pretty close to her 700k figure.

        If you think the $13,790 figure is off, I’d point to this study, which concludes:

        The researchers sent out fake resumes for a childless woman and a mom, both equally qualified. (The parent-resumes listed “Parent-Teacher Association coordinator” under the heading “other relevant activities,” as a way to flag that the candidates were parents.) They found that the moms were viewed less favorably than the non-moms and were substantially less likely to be hired. What’s more, mothers were offered $11,000 a year less in compensation, on average, than a childless job candidate with the same qualifications.

        $70,000 a year is a higher-than-average salary in the U.S., so the motherhood penalty would probably be slightly higher too. But even if you go with the $11,000 figure (which is just the starting offer — mothers are also less likely to be promoted, less likely to negotiate for a higher salary, etc), that’s a $550,000 loss over 50 years of employment.

        How is that not a realistic assessment? I actually think that given her circumstances she’s being quite realistic.

      • DonnaL says:

        Okay, if you read it why do you keep saying things that are factually inaccurate?

        Kristen, you and Jill can repeat as many times as you like how the writer arrived at her numbers. It doesn’t matter, because no matter how she did so, they still don’t make a lot of sense even for expensive urban areas like New York City and Washington, DC.

        Have you noticed that every single person commenting on this thread who’s actually a parent and/or otherwise has actual experience raising a child has pointed out that the reality doesn’t approach these numbers no matter how the writer calculates them, and no matter how many years out in the future she purports to extend those calculations, apparently by simple multiplication? Never mind that she ascribes zero value to the benefits of having children, even though there are all sorts of ways of calculating the monetary value of even the non-monetary benefits?

        But I guess we’re all just delusional and have no idea of how much things actually cost. Experience means nothing, apparently.

        I don’t get, at all, why some of you are so invested in defending her specific numbers. Not one person has challenged the truth of the general statement that “children are expensive.”

      • Kristen J. says:

        It doesn’t matter, because no matter how she did so, they still don’t make a lot of sense even for expensive urban areas like New York City and Washington, DC.

        Because it feels like arguing with the anti-science crowd. Her numbers are based on actual expenses. I mean…if you want to argue that the Dept. of Ag is full of shit and its annual survey of the amount of money people actually spend is inaccuate…okay…but cite your source. If you want to argue that ACS is incorrectly reporting the cost of day care then okay, but cite your source.

        But this insistence that it can’t possibly be that expensive makes no sense in the face of factual information to the contrary.

      • Past my expiration date says:

        Her numbers are based on actual expenses. I mean…if you want to argue that the Dept. of Ag is full of shit and its annual survey of the amount of money people actually spend is inaccuate…okay…but cite your source.

        The USDA numbers are not the amount of money people actually spend. In fact, the USDA says that they’re not. The USDA numbers are estimates, using this and that dataset, based on this and that assumption. If you use different assumptions, you get different numbers — according to the USDA.

        Furthermore, the USDA numbers are not prescriptive. Nadia Taha and her husband do not have to spend that much money just because the USDA says that’s how much comparably-affluent households spend, or even because that’s what all the other people she knows are spending. If buying and paying for a home, saving up for an emergency fund, and enjoying a comfortable retirement are priorities for them, they can probably find some child-associated things to spend less on. Or they could, if they didn’t assume that spending less than the USDA estimates is equivalent to short-changing your child.

      • EG says:

        Have you noticed that every single person commenting on this thread who’s actually a parent and/or otherwise has actual experience raising a child has pointed out that the reality doesn’t approach these numbers no matter how the writer calculates them, and no matter how many years out in the future she purports to extend those calculations, apparently by simple multiplication?

        Well, you know. Just because we’re actual people actually living in NYC who have actual experience with child-related expenses…how could that possibly compare to surveys of costs (which is not the same thing as surveys of how much people actually spend)? We’re clearly lying. Or delusional. Or ignorant. Or not clever enough to understand.

        But there’s no condescension there, no ma’am.

      • DonnaL says:

        Kristin, you’re actually comparing people who are speaking from the actual experience of spending actual money on actual children to the anti-science crowd? Please. This is beyond the pale and grossly offensive. I really think you need to stop it. Those figures are not “science,” as Past My Expiration Date points out. They’re financial estimates based on assumptions. It’s not remotely analogous.

      • Kristen J. says:

        @Donna,

        Are you seriously saying that your personal experience trumps data?

        The sample consisted of 11,800 husband-wife households and
        3,350 single-parent households and was weighted to reflect the U.S. population of interest by
        using BLS weighting methods.
        The CE collects overall household expenditure data for some budgetary components (housing,
        food, transportation, health care, and miscellaneous goods and services) and child-specific
        expenditure data for other components (clothing, child care, and education).

        That’s data. I’m sorry if you disagree based on your gut feelings about what you spent on an inflation adjusted basis to raise your child, but this study looks at what ACTUAL HOUSEHOLDS, 14,000 of them spent.

        Also, this is not about making people feel bad for spending less or making you feel stupid. I don’t understand how the hell we can have an intelligent conversation is we can’t accept that a survey of 14,000 households is a better metric for what is actually being spent to raise children that what some people think.

      • Kristen J. says:

        Also, being a parent makes you an expert in how much you spend on your kid, but it doesn’t make you an expert on how much other people *on average* spend on their kids. I understand this makes people feel like the data says that you shouldn’t raise kids on less, but that’s not what the data says. It says this is what 14,000 people spend. That fact is not a moral judgment on the quality of life you can provide to your kids on less.

      • Kristen J. says:

        And to the serial commenting experience because this is irking me. I financially support my nieces and nephew. I know how much things cost too. And presupposing that those without kids don’t know anything is also fairly condescending.

      • EG says:

        OK. Let’s look at these expenses from the USDA website in question:

        Housing expenses consist of shelter (mortgage payments, property taxes, or rent; maintenance and repairs; and insurance), utilities (gas, electricity, fuel, cell/telephone, and water), and house furnishings and equipment (furniture, floor coverings, major appliances, and small appliances).

        Really? Furniture, rugs, and appliances? Because parents spend more on these a year than non-parents? What do non-parents do, sit on the floor and cook over a bonfire?

        Child care and education expenses consist of day care tuition and supplies; baby-sitting; and elementary and high school tuition, books, fees, and supplies. Books, fees, and supplies may be for private or public schools.

        So, there’s the lumping together of moneys spent by families on private and public schools with no distinction. Gee, I wonder if that affects the numbers? Especially for the upper income levels?

        The USDA figures do not break down single-parent family costs by region (why not, I couldn’t tell you; from what I could tell, the report does not say) and consider only two income groups: under 60K and over 60K. They break down two-parent family costs by region, and consider three income groups: under 60K, between 60K and 103K, and over 103K. So whatever averages they’re coming up for 103K in the northeast, they’re lumping together two parents who make 103K, who Jill and Kristen J. are positive are not “affluent,” with everybody else who is richer. I wonder if that throws their numbers off at all?

        One other random note from the study:

        It was assumed that children in a two-child family do not share a bedroom.

        Why would anybody make this assumption? It doesn’t affect the calculations for one child, but it sure does for anybody interested in the calculations for any additional children. That just seems like a very weird assumption to be working with.

        Being a parent doesn’t just make you an expert on what you spend. It makes you an expert on what your kids’ friends’ families spend as well. And on what the families at your kids’ school spend. And if your kid goes to afterschool or extracurricular programs, what those families spend. But I guess all the parents who usually post on Feministe are wrong about the costs, and all the people who don’t have kid are right.

      • Jill says:

        Really? Furniture, rugs, and appliances? Because parents spend more on these a year than non-parents? What do non-parents do, sit on the floor and cook over a bonfire?

        No… but kids need furniture of their own. Like beds. A crib when they’re small. Maybe a chair in their bedroom. A carpet in their bedroom. A dresser for their clothing, maybe a chest or some storage thing for their toys. Most people buy kid-related appliances too — a blender (which I don’t own, but lots of parents do, to make kid or baby food), a diaper genie (again not necessary, but the Dept of Ag isn’t calculating what’s necessary, they’re calculating what people typically get), a microwave (again, I don’t have one, would want one if I had a kid), etc etc. I would guess that parents also have to replace things like rugs more often, given kid-related messes. Is it really surprising that parents spend more on furniture and appliances than non-parents, given that (a) there are more bodies in the house, and (b) more bodies in the house means that things get used more and wear out faster?

        But I guess all the parents who usually post on Feministe are wrong about the costs, and all the people who don’t have kid are right.

        No one is saying that those parents are right about the costs of raising their own kid. If you say it cost you $20,000 over 18 years to raise your own kid, ok, I believe you. What I am saying is that the author’s calculations for how much she would spending raising her kid is a reasonable estimate, given where she lives and her values and priorities, and what other families in her income bracket and area typically spend.

      • EG says:

        This whole thing is starting to remind me of a recent conversation I had in which I was worrying about whether or not I would be able to afford to have a kid and live in the style to which I try to be accustomed:

        EG: …and of course, I have shitty prescription coverage.

        Other Person: Well, what about public school?

        EG: What about it?

        OP: You could send your kid to public school?

        EG: …yes. That’s…what I would do. I went to public school.

        OP: Well, that’s a huge savings!

        This article reads like it’s written from the perspective of that Other Person to me.

      • Lolagirl says:

        Why would anybody make this assumption? It doesn’t affect the calculations for one child, but it sure does for anybody interested in the calculations for any additional children. That just seems like a very weird assumption to be working with.

        Thanks for the closer examination at those calculations, EG. I agree with you they are ridiculous and don’t appear to be very well grounded in reality. The problem with both the underlying assumptions used in those calculations and with the way they averaged things out is that it only gives the appearance of a generalized view of things as they stand.

        Says the meany parent who has my four kids sharing two bedrooms. The horror! We also send them to public schools, buy stuff second hand for them, and make them wear hand me downs. Downright neglectful!

      • Past my expiration date says:

        Jill, the USDA is not calculating the costs of diaper genies, microwaves, and cribs. They’re calculating the cost of utilities and furniture associated an additional bedroom; the additional bedroom being what the USDA uses to calculate the housing costs of a child.

        More importantly — if the author’s point is, “Lots of people don’t think about how expensive children are!”, then “Actually, children don’t have to cost that much.” is a perfectly valid response.

      • Jill says:

        Jill, the USDA is not calculating the costs of diaper genies, microwaves, and cribs. They’re calculating the cost of utilities and furniture associated an additional bedroom; the additional bedroom being what the USDA uses to calculate the housing costs of a child.

        Right. But EG’s argument was that parents don’t spend more on furniture or appliances, because parents probably had furniture or appliances before having kids. I’m just saying that parents actually probably do spend more on furniture and appliances than non-parents. You and Lola are certainly right that furniture and appliances don’t have to be all that spendy, and that many people don’t spend as much money as the Dept of Ag estimates. Ok? So what? That doesn’t change the fact that on average, parents spend more than non-parents on furniture and appliances. I don’t see why that fact is so objectionable.

      • Lolagirl says:

        Is it really surprising that parents spend more on furniture and appliances than non-parents, given that (a) there are more bodies in the house, and (b) more bodies in the house means that things get used more and wear out faster?

        I really don’t understand why you’re doubling down on this line of logic, Jill. Seriously, because no, none of this stuff is all that spendy if you don’t have that kind of cash to throw around (or even care to spend it if you have it.) There are oodles of budget friendly options out there these days, Craigslist, Target, Ikea, Walmart, etc. Oh, and that baby shower that so many apparently find so annoying to get invited to usually helps to defray the costs of having a kid as well.

        And no, you don’t necessarily replace stuff when the kid(s) ruin it. You make do or buy a cheapo cover or put an old sheet over it or whatever. Because otherwise you’re wasting a ton of money constantly replacing stuff unnecessarily, and wasting resources unnecessarily as well in the process. Ditto with the you’ll have to buy a bigger house and buy a family pet and all that other nonsense. Because that isn’t reality. You stack the kids up like cord wood if you must, because you can’t sell your current place and can’t afford a bigger one anyway in today’s economy.

        That is if you live like most people here in the U.S. and who comment here do.

      • Kristen J. says:

        Seriously? They didn’t pull these assumptions out of their ass. The report clearly states that the assumption was confirmed by the data. In fact yes, more children = more bedrooms.

        The average cost of an additional bedroom approach is a conservative estimate of housing expenses on children because it does not account fully for the fact that some families pay more for housing to live in a community with good schools or other amenities for children. Part of this expense is captured in the cost of the additional bedroom, but parents may be spending more on their own housing to live in certain communities than they would without children. In addition, it is a conservative estimate because it does not account fully for parents’ purchasing of a home with a larger yard, a playroom, or child-specific furnishings in other rooms of the home because of children in the household; however, data on these housing characteristics are limited.

        I’m completely shocked that people are so invested in debunking a study that demonstrates that too much of the burden of raising children is being placed on parents. For fuck’s sake one of the most important findings of this study is that health care, daycare, and education costs have exploded as a percentage of family expenditures…which implies we should be doing more to help families with those costs.

        Nowhere in this study does it say you are a shitty parent if your kids share a room. Nowhere in this study does it say you a shitty parent if you can’t afford to spend $400k on your children. Nowhere in this study does it say anything about who should or shouldn’t have children.

      • igglanova says:

        I can’t believe that people are now arguing that personal experience trumps math.

      • Lolagirl says:

        I can’t believe that people are now arguing that personal experience trumps math.

        I can’t believe that some commenters here are telling me and other parents how much money we are spending on our kids when we are actually the ones writing the checks and spending (or not spending) the money in question.

        I also went over and read that Department of Agriculture study to get a better handle on it. There is a whole lot of prefatory comments from the study writers about the assumptions they made that went into the study. And they themselves admit they have very little, if any data to back up those assumptions. The addition bedroom/ bigger house/ bigger backyard set of assumptions is backed up by pretty much zero actual hard data. Towards the end of the study they also get into a silly side track about how they were surprised that clothing costs for kids haven’t gone up more since the early 1960s because of the increased popularity of designer clothing lines. But then go on to assume that global pressures have managed to keep the actual costs of clothes down for kids.

        It’s all of these baseless assumptions used throughout that study that have led me and EG and others to conclude that it’s not a terribly accurate or reliable study to actually put dollar figures on the costs related to having a child. Because those figures terribly variable and subjective depending on one’s income as well as how one values or prioritizes a level of spending they deem necessary wrt to their kid(s).

        The bottom line is that kids don’t actually need their own room, or a big back yard, a separate playroom, private schools, a family pet, or even designer clothes to be happy, healthy or well adjusted. To be quite frank, I still wouldn’t spend the extra cash for all that stuff even if we did have it, because I don’t care to be so driven by a consumerist mindset that always insists on bigger and better for everything and anything.

      • Jill says:

        I can’t believe that some commenters here are telling me and other parents how much money we are spending on our kids when we are actually the ones writing the checks and spending (or not spending) the money in question.

        Maybe this is where I am getting confused. Who has told you how much you are spending on your kids? No one has done that.

        Discussing what people on average spend on their kids is not telling you specifically what you spend on your kids. The fact that Americans spend an average of more than 4 hours a day watching TV is not negated by the fact that I personally do not own a TV. Someone saying that Americans on average watch more than 4 hours of TV a day is not them saying that I personally watch more than 4 hours of TV a day. In the same way, commenters or journalists pointing out the amount of money that people on average spend on their kids is not saying that you, individually, spend that much money on your kids.

      • Lolagirl says:

        Maybe this is where I am getting confused. Who has told you how much you are spending on your kids? No one has done that.

        Let’s back up for a second. Ms. Taha wrote an article about how she is CFBC, and that the costs of raising a child are so prohibitively high that it factored into her decision to not have kids.

        I and others have countered that it isn’t really as astronomically expensive as Ms. Taha concluded in her article. There are plenty of reasons for countering the figures and logic behind Ms. Taha’s article. That’s the turn this discussion has taken at this point, and that’s what I’m addressing in my comment.

        And just to make sure it remains absolutely clear, taking issue with her line of reasoning and the calculations she used is not about taking issue with or questioning her being CFBC.

      • EG says:

        No… but kids need furniture of their own. Like beds. A crib when they’re small. Maybe a chair in their bedroom. A carpet in their bedroom. A dresser for their clothing, maybe a chest or some storage thing for their toys. Most people buy kid-related appliances too — a blender (which I don’t own, but lots of parents do, to make kid or baby food), a diaper genie (again not necessary, but the Dept of Ag isn’t calculating what’s necessary, they’re calculating what people typically get), a microwave (again, I don’t have one, would want one if I had a kid), etc etc.

        I want to make sure I’m crystal clear on your position: a two-income couple making six figures probably doesn’t have a blender/food processor or a microwave? Because I have both those things (all three, actually), and I have them the same way that parents who don’t make six figures obtain cribs and beds and chests of drawers: hand-me-downs and second-hand. If you buy a new crib, you probably don’t need to buy a bed for quite a while, because most of them are convertible these days. Or you could go to IKEA, which is highly rated by Consumer Reports for safety. Or Craig’s List. This is what people who make under six figures do. Surely those poor non-affluent couples who bring in six figures could do the same.

        (a) there are more bodies in the house, and (b) more bodies in the house means that things get used more and wear out faster?

        It takes an awful lot of wear to “wear out” a carpet or a sofa. Or a bed. In fact, growing up, I slept in the hand-me-down bed that had been my mother’s when she was a child. It lasted me 20 more years, and it never actually broke. And I probably spent more time on that particular piece of furniture than any other.

        Nobody is saying that children aren’t expensive. But Taha is using these calculations as though they’re gospel passed down from on high, when they’re based on a number of assumptions that don’t hold water, and on a set of income brackets that I would think that those who find 103K not to be affluent would agree is absurd, as it lumps them in with people pulling in five times that much. She’s saying that her choice is rational; we’re saying that, in fact, this rational factor is based on a number of confounding givens. That doesn’t mean she has to or should have kids–personally, I think “I like nice things and don’t want to have to put slipcovers over my furniture” is a good reason. But it doesn’t make her stats unimpeachable, either.

      • WL says:

        Really? Furniture, rugs, and appliances? Because parents spend more on these a year than non-parents? What do non-parents do, sit on the floor and cook over a bonfire?

        Thanks, that made me smile. But no, it’s PARENTS who do sit on the floor–their kids get the carpets and chairs, so the parents don’t have to spend extra money on those things.

        We all know that throwing sheets over appliances makes them last forever and never need repairs or replacements.

        Why would anybody make this assumption?

        Maybe because letting kids experience things like privacy and autonomy even in “small” ways like having a room is something that the surveyed families valued?

        And on what the families at your kids’ school spend. And if your kid goes to afterschool or extracurricular programs, what those families spend.

        I’m sure you go around to every schoolmate’s parent/s and ask how much money they spent this year on their kids, and in previous years. Very likely.

        OP: You could send your kid to public school?

        EG: …yes. That’s…what I would do. I went to public school.

        OP: Well, that’s a huge savings!

        Actually, that probably is a huge savings, comparing public schools to most private schools, at least in terms of tuition. As for longterm savings, factoring in things like mental health, learning ability, etc it’s probably a huge savings investing in getting your kid into a good school or unschooling program.

        Says the meany parent who has my four kids sharing two bedrooms. The horror! We also send them to public schools, buy stuff second hand for them, and make them wear hand me downs. Downright neglectful!

        If the kids are ok with sharing bedrooms, and have other ways to learn about privacy and such, that’s not mean–some kids prefer to not be in a room alone, and disrespecting their wishes to be close to someone else at night is mean. Sending them to almost any school is mean. Secondhand items aren’t mean. Forcing them to wear clothes if they hate the clothes is mean. Are you really a meanie?

        There are oodles of budget friendly options out there these days, Craigslist, Target, Ikea, Walmart, etc. Oh, and that baby shower that so many apparently find so annoying to get invited to usually helps to defray the costs of having a kid as well.

        You would shop at a place like Walmart? … And of course you’re assuming that all these financially struggling parents and parents-to-be have plenty of friends who are parents themselves (for hand me downs) or relatively rich (to buy new gifts).

        And not all those places are good value. I bought a bunch of towels for my gpigs from Target some years back, and for being relatively thin and light, they sure cost a lot.

        You stack the kids up like cord wood if you must …

        Gee I’d love to be stacked up like cord wood. If you actually do that to any dependents, you should only have them stacked up in their rooms for sleeping. During the day, they should all have plenty of space to play, learn, explore, socialize, etc.

        Nowhere in this study does it say you are a shitty parent … Nowhere in this study does it say anything about who should or shouldn’t have children.

        I can’t help but think that some of these reactions are due to guilt, not shaming by others. Maybe they realize they shouldn’t have children, so they read that into a study about how other people parent and get defensive. Plus, a lot of people confuse descriptions with prescriptions.

        The bottom line is that kids don’t actually need [these products] to be happy, healthy or well adjusted.

        That depends on the kid and other variables. For example, a style of child rearing which one child adapts to easily and seems to “turn out alright” (by whose standards?) might be undeniably abusive when used on another child, to the point of giving them a life-long, severe psychiatric disorder that greatly affects their ability to learn, hold a job, build relationships (of any kind but especially romantic), feel emotions, etc. The assumption that one person looks happy, healthy, and well-adjusted, so everything they went through must be perfectly ok to do to other kids is incorrect.

        I want to make sure I’m crystal clear on your position: a two-income couple making six figures probably doesn’t have a blender/food processor or a microwave?

        I know one two-income couple who together are worth millions of USD who didn’t have blenders, food processors, or regular ovens (or a dishwasher) AFAIK. As for how common that is, especially if you look at couples in NYC, I haven’t a clue. They did have a toaster oven, stove, washing machine, etc in expensive housing, they weren’t the type to live in a tent in the woods or in an old school bus (although those can be awesome too). Their area was just really expensive in terms of space so it was a real luxury to have an actual oven and a kitchen designed to fit it.

        You seem to imply that everyone who makes 100k+ must be stupid, and can’t control themselves–they MUST buy unnecessary stuff with all their money!…or something like that. Not so. Sometimes a product or service isn’t worth it, even if it costs less than what you have in the bank. This applies whether you have $10 or $10mil in the bank, whether you’re talking about stickers to decorate your kitchen with, an oven, a blender, a cup of coffee, or a summer house.

        Or you could go to IKEA, which is highly rated by Consumer Reports for safety. Or Craig’s List. This is what people who make under six figures do. Surely those poor non-affluent couples who bring in six figures could do the same.

        Uh huh. Because it’s an unnecessary, wasteful luxury to want things that are known to be reliable, sturdy, long-lasting, without much maintenance needed, low energy, space-efficient, safe, supporting responsible business, etc. (I’m not sure what CR rates for safety but pretty sure there are options better than everything IKEA sells.) I also laughed at people bringing in six figures (poor, affluent, however you want to describe them) wanting to drive around the county picking up free/cheap stuff they saw on CL. People REALLY don’t understand opportunity cost.

        That, or they’ve been on welfare so long they forgot that some people’s time is valuable.

      • tinfoil hattie says:

        $435k is what the department of agriculture says *people actually spend* on raising a kid. She adjusted that based on the specificis of cost of child care in her area as published by ACS which comes out to about $64k just for the years until preschool.

        This is just absurd to me. I live in an expensive area too, and I have NOT spent $435k on a kid! What the heck? $64k before the kid turns three? On what?

        We had a mortgage before they were born, and refinanced so that it’s actually lower now. They have had food, health care, vaccinations, medicines, preschool tuition (okay, it was cheap, $70-$120/mo co-op preschool), clothing, public schooling, various “county rec center” activities and day camps, and all manner of toys and some electronic gadgets.

        I can’t make the $435k figure, nor can I approach the $700k – $1m figure, even though we live in the DC area, which is also notoriously expensive.

        The older kid is 16, so our costs will decrease, when he gets a real “paying job” next summer and we pay for even less. It’s actually not child abuse to help your kid get ready to be self-supporting!

  21. Donna L says:

    How do we know she’s white?

    We don’t. I think her background is Egyptian, but I have no idea how she identifies.

  22. igglanova says:

    Has it ever been a good idea to conduct ourselves as though people already know things like ‘having children is expensive and potentially ruinous, financially’? Perhaps members of the ever-discerning Feministe commentariat are too perfect to make bad decisions, but there is no shortage of 1. idiots, 2. the uninformed, 3. the unwary.

    I look forward to accusations of condescension the next time someone publishes an article like ‘vaccines save lives’, ‘the dangers of backyard pools’, or ‘why mixing industrial-strength cleaning fluids is a bad idea’.

    • EG says:

      Has it ever been a good idea to assume that women are too stupid to consider finances when making reproductive choices? Or is that only true when the women are choosing to have abortions?

      • Safiya Outlines says:

        EG – didn’t you know? “Trust Women” is only with regards to the choices of using contraception or having an abortion.

        A woman choosing to have a child – DON’T trust that woman, she’s just some airhead breeder who is selfish/stupid/bad for the environment/a bit of a traitor to women

        When was that meeting held that declared that throwing mothers under the bus was Good Feminism?

      • igglanova says:

        A woman choosing to have a child – DON’T trust that woman, she’s just some airhead breeder who is selfish/stupid/bad for the environment/a bit of a traitor to women

        That you are so eager to conjure this bizarre interpretation of my comment says a lot more about you and your own baggage than it does about me.

      • Beatrice says:

        On the other hand, a woman giving her reasons for not having children totally deserves some shit for that.

        I mean, if you don’t want children, don’t have them. Just shut up about it because no one wants to hear it.

        Nope, that’s not shaming at all.

      • EG says:

        That you are so eager to conjure this bizarre interpretation of my comment says a lot more about you and your own baggage than it does about me.

        No. What it does is identify a pattern in the essays about choosing to have children that get linked to on Feministe.

        On the other hand, a woman giving her reasons for not having children totally deserves some shit for that.

        I mean, if you don’t want children, don’t have them. Just shut up about it because no one wants to hear it.

        If you can’t give your reasons without being an obnoxious, condescending twit with no awareness of most people’s financial struggles and your relative privilege and who generalizes “the decision that’s best for me” to “the decision that’s more reasonable,” then indeed, shut up. I’m happy to shame for that.

      • Beatrice says:

        Safiya explicitly stated that she can’t be arsed to care why women don’t want to have children.

        Her attitude seems to be supported here.

      • EG, I should point out that – despite not being the author of that article, or even technically child-free since I have a stepdaughter – I’m feeling pretty fucking resentful right now of the way people are basically raging at all the childfree people on the thread and telling them to stfu. I appreciate that you (mostly) aren’t doing that, which is why I’m talking to you rather than the more out-there ones, but others are really getting my hackles up at this point.

      • Lolagirl says:

        I’m feeling pretty fucking resentful right now of the way people are basically raging at all the childfree people on the thread and telling them to stfu

        Mac I hope that you don’t get the impression from the things I’ve said in the comments that I’m raging at the CF or want them to stfu. I’m only taking issue with the author of this article in particular for her insulting, condescending and elitist pov.

        Fapping around in the NYT about how you’re so much smarter and more enlightened than most other people out there is condescending and elitist (over a million bucks to raise just one kid, seriously?!) Of course I’m going to take issue with that, and it has nothing to do with her being CFBC.

      • Bagelsan says:

        “Trust women”? Oh, I’m sorry, are we trusting Jenny McCartney on vaccines now? She’s a MOM. She must have magically MOM-knowledge. Because the second you get impregnated you suddenly know everything there is to know about children, finances, medicine, law and chemistry. Even if you’re 15 years old, or never had access to a good education, or you weren’t planning to have kids but can’t get the damn thing aborted, or you say stupid-ass wrong stuff on a regular basis — MOMhood trumps all that, does it?

        I should get knocked up asap! It would let me skip a lot of classes, and it would turn me into a financial analyst to boot!

      • EG says:

        Mac, it’s an interesting dissonant experience, because I feel like the essays often linked to here–about parents in bars, about strollers taking up space, etc.–are all about telling mothers to shut up and stop demanding a place in public life.

        It makes me feel like there must be a larger problem here, because neither childfree women nor mothers seem particularly privileged in this society to me, just disenfranchised in different ways that make both groups feel utterly silenced. So it feels like there’s a missing component here–whichever group is privileged here, and cui bono. But it also feels reductionistic to say that it’s really only about male privilege, because that smacks of Marxist “false consciousness” bullshit. So I don’t really know where to go from there.

      • Mac, it’s an interesting dissonant experience, because I feel like the essays often linked to here–about parents in bars, about strollers taking up space, etc.–are all about telling mothers to shut up and stop demanding a place in public life.

        I absolutely agree with you there! And I’ve been right there pushing back against this crap; my only comment that was about the article itself was to call the author a rich shit, iirc. (It’s too freakin’ big to scroll at this point.) I… just find it really uncomfortable how quickly the conversation becomes “don’t have kids? shut up!” which leaves me feeling incredibly isolated and weird and silenced, because a) I’m not childless – I have a child, my stepdaughter, and I also have no desire to bear a child, but b) I don’t have a child by the incessant MOM MOM MOM drumbeat of the hardliners either, so… where am I in this debate? Or the hundreds of thousands of step-parents or foster parents or non-DNA-donors who are reading this essay and being derided from every side?

        Forgotten, fucked and frustrated, as far as I can tell.

        Lolagirl, I understand that you and EG aren’t trying to push back at childfree/non-procreating commenters on the site, but from our perspective, it really looks like this:

        Me: I don’t want to have biokids.
        Random IRL Person: Why not?
        Me: Because…I don’t want to?
        Random IRL Person: THAT’S NOT GOOD ENOUGH.
        Me: *spends years marshaling reasons, since apparently choice isn’t good enough*

        Then of course I wander onto feminist spaces, and it’s like this:

        Me: I don’t want to have biokids… *remembers how it went before* BECAUSE REASONS OKAY?
        Feminist-space-person: Oh, so you think moms are stupid! Your reasons are telling moms they are stupid!
        Me: But…but… I don’t want to, and everyone tells me I can’t just not want to, so…
        Feminist-space-person: THAT’S NOT GOOD ENOUGH.
        Me: *flailing incoherently*

      • EG says:

        Mac, it’s interesting how wildly different our RL contexts are. From my point of view, in my entire adult life, which is longer now than it once was, I have been the exception in my peer group for wanting children strongly and knowing it consistently. In college at least one person assumed I was super-drunk because I was saying that I would have kids no matter what, even if I couldn’t find a partner, and hey, who would say that sober? In graduate school, I was literally the only person in my program who felt strongly about having children–everybody else I knew ranged from not caring very much and so they’d see what their partners wanted to actively hating children (not to be confused with actively not wanting them; I’ve had at least a couple close friends in my life who actively hate children), and I was the only person who made a point of having kids in her life. (Of course, life being what it is, I hear through the grapevine that many of the people who didn’t care now have kids, whereas I’m sitting around getting older with exactly the same number of kids I had ten years ago.) Professionally, it is strongly discouraged for untenured women to talk about their plans/desires for children, even in passing, which it makes it hard to suss out what kind of arrangements can be made. The only person I have known with as strong feelings about motherhood as I have is my mother, and the only person my age was my late best friend; now that my best friend has a baby, she feels strongly, like I do, but she did not before. So my RL experience is one of feeling isolated and as if I have to justify my desires as well.

        I think I would have found this article inoffensive if the writer had acknowledged what Tamara said, that these reasons make sense only if you don’t strongly want to have children anyway, and therefore are considering a variety of aspects of the issue: “As somebody who has never felt a particularly strong urge to have children, I decided to think very carefully about what the impact of having children would be, and finances immediately jumped out at me blah blah blah.” Because then all those reasons make sense, and also don’t carry the implicit tone of “nobody else thinks about this.” Instead, the implicit message is “if you don’t feel a strong desire to have kids, this is an issue that can sway you one way or the other.”

      • igglanova says:

        What the fuck? Please point out where anyone was doing that.

      • EG says:

        Every time you and/or the writer assume that “many” other women just haven’t considered or couldn’t possibly realize the financial effects of having children, that is what you and/or she are saying: that other women couldn’t possibly know the financial circumstances of their own lives well enough to make good reproductive choices.

        The default assumption when we talk about abortion is that women who choose it know their circumstances better than lawmakers or random essayists. Why is that not the default when you and/or this writer talk about having children?

      • igglanova says:

        The key word is ‘many’. Not all. Not even most. Many. If you already knew about the myriad costs of parenthood in detail, then perhaps you were not the OP’s target audience.

        The default assumption when we talk about abortion is that women who choose it know their circumstances better than lawmakers or random essayists. Why is that not the default when you and/or this writer talk about having children?

        I actually don’t think this is the default assumption when discussing abortion. Nor should it be the default assumption when discussing anything, frankly. Articles that analyze the potential impact of abortion vs. childbirth abound. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

      • EG says:

        In the post above this one about the effects of women on being denied abortions, Jill writes hey, it turns out women getting abortions do know more about their life circumstances than politicians make random rules. I extend the same courtesy to women having children.

        I’m a regular reader of the NYT who is particularly interested in issues surrounding motherhood. If I’m not the target audience, I’m certainly an easily foreseeable one.

    • Bagelsan says:

      Thank you, igglanova; not sure where all the hating is coming from. But boy do those imaginary childfree people say some terrible things to REAL MOMS ™! 9_9

      • Safiya Outlines says:

        Bagelsan – “Trust women” is a pro-choice slogan and I thought it was pretty clear clear that I was referring to trusting women to make their own reproductive choices.

      • igglanova says:

        I think it is completely inappropriate to use ‘trust women’ as a cudgel in this argument. ‘Trust women’ is about keeping abortion legal and accessible. It is not an admonishment to assume that women everywhere, from the smartest to the dumbest, are always perfectly informed about any issue under the sun. Women – including mothers (!!!) – are pretty much exactly as smart or dumb as any other group of people. This is controversial…why?

        I ‘trust women’ to make decisions about family planning, in the sense that I do not think it is my business to restrict their ability to choose freely. I am under no obligation, however, to think those decisions are always sound, or to refrain from talking about factual information regarding parenthood’s economic toll.

      • Safiya Outlines says:

        Igglanova – Again, I am not talking about any issue ever. I am talking about reproductive choices.

        I repeat: reproductive choices.

        I have never heard in feminist bloglandia, heard any discussion about “smart” and “dumb” women when it comes to making decisions about abortion or contraception and I hope I never do, because that would be all kinds of fail.

        So what makes deciding to have a child so deserving of extra judgment?

        Also, again. What myself and others are objecting to in the article, is the condescension aimed at a group of people who are condescended to all the time, particularly on this blog of late. Such condescension does nothing to help improve conditions for anyone raising children, social justice does not get achieved via contempt.

        And guess what? There have been pleeeenty of “Gasp! The cost of children!” articles already. It’s nothing new or enlightening whatsoever.

      • igglanova says:

        Why are you insisting that judgement and contempt were such enormous parts of this article? Do you just feel judged by true statements like ‘having children is expensive’ and ‘many people make decisions without especially rigorous consideration’?

        Also, again. What myself and others are objecting to in the article, is the condescension aimed at a group of people who are condescended to all the time, particularly on this blog of late.

        Oh, I know you’re objecting to perceived conscension. My point was that it is absurd to accuse the author of condescension solely on the grounds that she did not start from the assumption that her audience already knew everything she was about to say.

        And guess what? There have been pleeeenty of “Gasp! The cost of children!” articles already. It’s nothing new or enlightening whatsoever.

        Did you just skim the OP for outrage and end up missing the entire point? Taha was motivated to write this piece in the first place because any information she could find re: the total cost of parenting was so spotty and flawed. Clearly, there is a need for her kind of analysis.

      • Lolagirl says:

        I have never heard in feminist bloglandia, heard any discussion about “smart” and “dumb” women when it comes to making decisions about abortion or contraception and I hope I never do, because that would be all kinds of fail.

        I agree. It’s the operating premise of Feminism that any and all women are fully capable of deciding for themselves whether or not to utilize contraception or abortion services. Whenever some Congresscreep tries to make inroads into restricting that access on the assumption that women aren’t intellectually or emotionally capable of making these decisions on their own Feminism jumps right in to fight against it. Not just because it seeks to curtail our right to control our own bodies, but because it’s insulting to women’s capacity to make these decision for themselves.

        So what makes deciding to have a child so deserving of extra judgment?

        Cosigned. So why exactly is it that the decision to not procreate or gestate isn’t given the same level of deference? Women already have every single thing they do and decision they make scrutinized and policed in a way that men just do not in our society. Why is it that when women decide to have a child feminism doesn’t push back against that societal policing and second guessing?

        Do you just feel judged by true statements like ‘having children is expensive’ and ‘many people make decisions without especially rigorous consideration’?

        First of all, the dollar value quoted by Ms. Taha as the supposed cost of raising a child was ridiculously excessive. You do realize that most people are not even going to make $1.5 million over the 18 year span a child would spend under their roof? The use of such a ridiculously large sum of money as justification of how expensive kids are is just patently absurd. Sure, kids cost money, but so does life in general. But the extreme spending of money to the tune of $1.5M to live that life is certainly not necessary (or even within the reach of the average person here in the U.S.)

        As to the issue of how rigorously one does or does not think through the decision to have a child? This is such a subjective and perception based thing as to be practically meaningless. How does one go about even quantifiying whether or not another person has sufficiently thought through the decision to have a child? Because too often, that judgment is used as a cudgel to second guess and condemn the life choices of anyone who is not you, and at worst is used against minorities/poc as a way to take away their reproductive choices and even their children that they already have.

      • igglanova says:

        First of all, the dollar value quoted by Ms. Taha as the supposed cost of raising a child was ridiculously excessive. You do realize that most people are not even going to make $1.5 million over the 18 year span a child would spend under their roof?

        This section of your comment makes it quite clear that you have only skimmed the content of the OP. One of her main concerns was the fact that children do not stop being a financial burden at 18. Some of the greatest expenses, like college and housing, occur only after this arbitrary cutoff. Also factored into the expense is the predictable (infuriating) loss of potential income due to career setbacks and workplace discrimination after motherhood is attained. I assume you are familiar with the concept of ‘opportunity cost’? One doesn’t actually need to have earned or spent $1.7 million to be $1.7 million poorer than one would have been without children.

        The use of such a ridiculously large sum of money as justification of how expensive kids are is just patently absurd. Sure, kids cost money, but so does life in general. But the extreme spending of money to the tune of $1.5M to live that life is certainly not necessary (or even within the reach of the average person here in the U.S.)

        I would like to take a moment to rehash what Nadia Taha actually said in her OP.

        If we were to have a child and do what most other parents around us do in trying to give a new life the very best start possible, we would probably spend over $1.7 million in today’s dollars. [Emphasis supplied]

        She was not attempting to pass this figure off as representative of every family in America. She very explicitly said that this estimate applied to her own family and her own circumstances.

        If you still think her calculations were wrong, feel free to elucidate that. But please argue against something that was actually said.

      • Lolagirl says:

        This section of your comment makes it quite clear that you have only skimmed the content of the OP.

        No, I read it in detail.

        But I will admit that I dismissed much of that portion of her article, in no small part because I think the doing of those calculations is much more nebulous and uncertain than Ms. Taha seems to think it is. It’s an odd combination of assumptions that all the stars will continue to align, nothing will ever get in her way, and this is the money that she (and her spouse) will most certainly make if she continues on this path (sans kids.) Life is rarely that straight forward or simple. Recessions happen, illness or disability may occur, and jobs are far from guaranteed in our 21st century economy.

        And it’s certainly not the case that I wish her ill, far from it. I just don’t live in a world where I make plans assuming it will all go my way and find that it actually works out accordingly. Eventually, I’ve found it necessary to let go of a lot of my optimism for both my present and for the future, adapt accordingly and keep moving forward as best I can.

      • igglanova says:

        Honestly, you could make the exact same criticism of any prediction or estimate. There are always complications we did not foresee. That doesn’t make predictions worthless. And it certainly doesn’t negate the value of planning carefully for the future.

      • WL says:

        Sometimes things can go wrong, yes. Sometimes you think you’d lose a lot of $ from quitting a high paying job, but instead you’re stuck with a low-paying job. That just makes her reasoning even stronger, no? If I knew that our family’s chances of losing resources were high, that would be a huge influence on whether we added more dependents. If I knew for sure that we’d get more resources, that would be a positive factor when deciding to grow our family in the *future*.

        Accepting unpleasant things that can’t be changed is part of this world. Deciding that you’ll drag kids down with you when the unpleasant things happen is not inevitable.

        Also, there are potential complications that you *can* predict. Good rescues will often list several to potential adopters, so they can think about 1) whether they can handle the animal if/when these come up 2) whether they might handle them better if they made some changes and adopted later 3) what sorts of plans they can put in place as backups. Examples:

        Marriage, new boyfriends/girlfriends or housemates/roommates who dislike the animal

        Divorce, death of co-parent, other loss of caretakers (eg grown child going to college, moving away)

        Job loss or career change

        Moving, quarantine requirements, difficulty finding a place that allows “pets”

        Vet bills, including large ones for illness/injury and lifelong treatments/meds

        Health-related supplies at home, eg air filtration for asthmatic cat

        Behaviorist help, time investment (eg spraying, guarding, anxiety, “aggression”)

        Protection/replacement of furniture, flooring, clothing, etc if chewed, urinated on, etc

        Development of allergies

        Kids/furkids who might not get along and/or divert resources (especially new ones)

        Hired sitters/walkers/boarders with shift change, change at home (eg allergic visitor), or travel

        Hired sitters/walkers/caretakers, longterm, if human suffers injury/illness/disability

        Arrangements for new home, if human suffers death or severe disability

        Disasters–fire, flood, earthquake, hurricane, etc

        They stress that this is on top of predictable, routine financial and time costs such as vet physicals, bloodwork, urinalyses, fecal exams, xrays, flea prevention, heartworm prevention, food, litter, cat trees, carriers/crates, rental fees (deposit, rent increase), training, exercise, health insurance, etc. These are the easy costs that you can determine before adopting, but they assume everything will continue as it is now, family will be static, income will be stable, health will be perfect, etc and those are highly unlikely to continue for 20+ years.

        So if these shelters and rescues can do adoption counseling for cats and dogs (and birds etc), why can’t people think of these when planning for other things? Maybe if people actually cared enough to think ahead and share ideas, only a very small % of “these things happen” would be completely unexpected.

      • WL says:

        It’s the operating premise of Feminism that any and all women are fully capable of deciding for themselves whether or not to utilize contraception or abortion services.

        I must be a terrible non-feminist then, because there are plenty of people who aren’t fully capable of giving informed consent to ANYTHING. But even if I’m anti-feminism, at least I accept reality.

        Whenever some Congresscreep tries to make inroads into restricting that access on the assumption that women aren’t intellectually or emotionally capable of making these decisions on their own Feminism jumps right in to fight against it. Not just because it seeks to curtail our right to control our own bodies, but because it’s insulting to women’s capacity to make these decision for themselves.

        “Women” is not one individual. There are plenty of people, female or not, adult or not, who aren’t capable of making decisions as simple of what to eat for lunch or whether to take antibiotics. That’s not insulting, that’s just the truth. Painting all “women” or any other group with an irrelevant brush is what’s factually incorrect and has harmful results in the real world.

        And just because one group is second-guessed and discriminated against a lot, it doesn’t mean that every decision of every member of that group is correct and ought to be defended.

        We don’t have the right to be told we all have the best capacity to make all decisions simply because we don’t have any Y chromosomes. To be told otherwise isn’t insulting.

      • Lolagirl says:

        I must be a terrible non-feminist then

        DING, DING, DING!

        You get it, finally! Thank you for at long last being honest with yourself as well as all of the other commenters here at Feministe. Now how about you go back to commenting at the Blaze.com and spare us your anti-feminist, racist, classist blather?

      • WL says:

        Ok I’ll be a good feminist and declare “all females are superior to males, every female has better decision making capabilities than anyone else in the world, 3 year old girls know best regarding whether they should have sex with 40 year old men, women in the middle of a manic episode should be trusted to decide whether investing all their savings into a new corporation will give them huge profits, autistic females take unnecessary meds shoved at them because they made a rational informed treatment decision” etc etc. Are you serious? That’s the sort of thing people say to PARODY feminism and make it look bad, or justify abusing people (not just females of course).

        And thanks for the tip, but after browsing a bit, I have to say I’m not into those sorts of games.

        I would ask what’s “anti-feminist” or “racist” or “classist” about anything I said, but you probably equate those things with math and facts, just like “hateful” and whatever other irrelevant adjectives you enjoy.

      • Lolagirl says:

        And it certainly doesn’t negate the value of planning carefully for the future.

        I absolutely agree that there is value in at least attempting to plan carefully for the future.

        But don’t dismiss the reality I pointed out earlier, specifically how poor(er) people have their supposed inability to plan well financially for their kids, or worse yet, or the not foreseeing plans not working out used against them as a reason to lose their kids to the state.

        You can’t afford that child, and you aren’t capable of planning to care properly for that child, or even for future children you might have has been and continues to be used against an entire spectrum of people considered to be undesirable parents by our society. Like it or not, the whole line of logic “kids are expensive” gets trotted out all the time to demonize people who are already dumped on and ignored by our society and then used to take away their kids (or worse yet, find themselves sterilized against their will.)

        Personally, I think the whole tail chasing exercise of an article is pointless, save for the navel gazing aspect of it. The NYT does a whole lot better when it actually tackles these harder issues and takes down the welfare queens and entitlement complex rhetoric that still has such power over the U.S. and it’s public policy aims.

      • igglanova says:

        Like it or not, the whole line of logic “kids are expensive” gets trotted out all the time to demonize people who are already dumped on and ignored by our society and then used to take away their kids (or worse yet, find themselves sterilized against their will.)

        Sure it does. But you will not find anything close to that in the OP.

        Facts, selectively applied, can always be used as weapons against the marginalized. That doesn’t mean we should just stop saying true things.

    • Natalia says:

      I think if you accept the fact that we probably shouldn’t call women “idiots” for choosing to get abortions, you have to accept the fact that you don’t get to call them “idiots” for choosing to have children.

      Other people’s reproductive choices don’t usually come down to what someone else personally approves of, whether you’re Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin or not.

      Neither is an individual’s engagement of those choices necessarily linear. A lot of women I know had abortions early in life, then went on to have biological children. In both instances, they were making reproductive decisions. In the first instance, it would be offensive to point to them and go, “But are we sure they’re not just idiots? What makes them think they’re so perfect? ” In the second instance, it would be offensive to point to them and go, “But are we sure they’re not just idiots? What makes them think they’re so perfect?”

      • igglanova says:

        I think if you accept the fact that we probably shouldn’t call women “idiots” for choosing to get abortions, you have to accept the fact that you don’t get to call them “idiots” for choosing to have children.

        Good. I agree. Isn’t it nice how nobody actually did that?

      • guilgenova says:

        I have nothing meaningful to contribute to this conversation, I just wanted to show love for your name. <3

      • Natalia says:

        Actually, sneering at some of the posters here and implying that “hey, you guys clearly think you’re perfect, but what about the idiots and the uninformed?” is, in fact, doing just that. Particularly because in this feminist space, questioning the intelligence of a woman for getting an abortion is very quickly identified as the sexist claptrap it so clearly is.

      • Bagelsan says:

        Sometimes really dumbass women get abortions. Just like some really dumbass women participate in all walks of life, including parenthood. That means that some mothers are dumbasses. I even know some. Stating this is controversial why?

      • Natalia says:

        It’s not a question of “some people are dumbasses, therefore some mothers are dumbasses.”

        “Are we sure she’s smart enough to have that abortion?” for example, is not a question we ask on Feministe, and for some very good reasons, including the fact that this plays into institutionalized sexism. But there is a similar line of questioning occurs when it comes to women who choose to have children (egad, but what about the idiots out there?! They need information!) – just going to show that a woman’s reproductive decisions are *always* up for someone else’s review. And if the former is not exactly cool, then so is the latter.

      • Bagelsan says:

        Getting an abortion doesn’t directly affect anyone besides the person getting the abortion; having a child directly affects another human being (a totally helpless and dependent human being.) You really can’t see why some people might have a slightly higher bar for the latter than the former?

  23. WL says:

    Lots of funny stuff. http://vhemt.org/biobreed.htm#reasons table covers it.

    “It’s a spiritual thing for me.”

    “I want someone who will love me and not leave me.”

    “Our economy needs young workers to replace retired workers.” *gag* Engine to the economy WTF

    As for using motherhood as a substitute for (oh noes, very expensive professional) therapy…I don’t know what to say about that one.

    Some people REALLY don’t read articles before bashing. Yes, Nadia Taha isn’t telling anyone else what to do. Yes, she talks about how it’s impossible to calculate everything. No, I don’t see how her writing is “whining.” No, she doesn’t say anywhere that no one before her has tried to calculate the actual financial costs of raising kids. I can’t see in the least that she’s blaming people who make an informed choice to parenthood or acting like she’s better than they are–she’s admitted she may join them (to my disappointment).

    Huh I should have read to the end of the comments before writing all this up. Jill covered a lot of what I was going to say. And she had a good point I didn’t think to mention, that most people don’t even understand the concept of opportunity cost.

    I also was surprised by the assumption that the author is Caucasian. I thought her last name didn’t sound likes Jones or Smith and that’s about it. I’m somewhat slow, dense, naive, and blind, you know, like colorblind until someone shoved my nose into the fact that ethnicity does matter, so I didn’t even think about her age, salary, or race.

    I never got the feeling she was implying that non-whites are too stupid to know that it takes money to raise kids properly. However, it’s very true that a lot of people don’t consider the costs, or don’t factor them in when making the actual decision. It’s just how human brains work–they don’t always connect the dots that extend far into the future. Some people really don’t give a shit if their kids starve to death. Others would, but don’t realize they’re headed on the path to starving kids to death. Not because they can’t do basic addition, but because they don’t think about it beyond the most vague dismissive way (usually along the lines of “Sure, but I’ll handle it when I get there” or “I’m sure it won’t be that bad”).

    Specisists might bash me for comparing human dependents to non-human dependents, but I’m using them for analogy because that’s what I’m more familiar with. There are people who claim their cats, dogs, birds, etc are truly members of the family (so you can’t say they think their human children aren’t even comparable to their pups) who STILL don’t get it. They want to get their third or fifth cat or dog, but before they even get one, they complain that puppy millers/BYBs are cheaper than rescues or shelters. They don’t consider that the $40 – $500 adoption fee isn’t just about the paperwork, and it’s not even about the food, kennel space, utilities, veterinary care, etc the animal received…and that’s not my point anyway, because a BYB would (hopefully, at the very least) also pay for dog food And it’s irrelevant to these people that the adoption fee might go to helping other animals.

    My point is, they don’t think about how much it would add up to go to their own vet and pay for the other things that shelter/rescue animals have done for them that petstore/BYBs don’t. The best places s/n before adopting out, others usually at least give you a voucher. Even the crappy rural pound (which is likely to charge closer to $40 than $500) will probably give you a rabies shot at least. The ones at $100+ will also give things like microchipping, deworming, flea/heartworm treatment for the month, etc, as well as exams, heartworm/FIV/FeLV tests, and whatever else before it goes home. I’d like to see a BYB give you all that. Or find a good private vet who’ll do it for less than the shelter/rescue.

    And then they’re shocked when the vet actually wants money for services, medications, special diets, etc or just when they realize the vet is needed. I talked to one person who was outraged at her neighbor, who noticed that her cat was ill and had the vet look at it, only to kill the poor kitty upon learning treatment would be $200. The cost of a life–over $20 but less than $200. The thing is, the outraged, kind, caring lady also rarely had cash, and turned out to be unable to pay for her own cat’s emergency treatment months later (guess who paid for it, as well as a lot of other things for that cat). Please don’t say the nice lady lives in a different universe just because she didn’t think ahead.

    To people who want to have a family that includes human dependents (preferably without forcing kids into a world you chose for them without their consent?) but are worried about health costs, you might want to 1) find more help–it does take a village! 2) wait and be sure and 3) look into adopting waiting children so you have some backup from the state, as well as being fairly confident you are providing better care, guidance, and education than they would otherwise have.

    That goes even if you’re well off, and already have 1.7mil or 3.4mil USD as well as good health insurance, your own home or few, etc. You might feel lucky to have a “low maintenance” infant, only to realize later you have these exponentially rising costs because your child is “disabled” (is that PC these days?) or otherwise needing more services than usual. Possibly for the rest of their lives.

    Debt is fine–I’ve said many times that I would do almost anything for my family, including living off lentils and ramen, pawning my computer, begging and borrowing, if I need to (I just hope I don’t need to)–but there’s only so far you can go down that hole. Many years ago, I talked to a college student who adopted a dog. She realized this dog was Not Well. She got him the best vet care she could, and he was stabilized, but the condition was chronic and maintaining him cost around 8,000USD per year. She borrowed from friends and family, maxed her cards, everything she could think of. After 3 years of this, she didn’t know what to do. I wonder what happened to her and that dog.

    Also, I can’t understand why these people care enough to toss away $ at wardrobes or hair styling UNLESS they’re distracted by something like children. I don’t think there’s a huge correlation between having children and having a sense of “enough” with material needs at all, but that’s just her opinion against mine.

    As for “…suspect most people come out with the decision they want in their gut, and then look for the justifications that make sense,” completely true for the vast majority of human decisions (take what you want, then justify it to your conscience and to others later!), even if they’re not aware of it. The tail does not wag the dog http://people.virginia.edu/~jdh6n/ I’m one of those crazies who actually will give up things I have strong emotional yearnings for when I realize that it’s not logical to have them.

    However, while most people who insist on kids, no matter what, won’t be swayed by such articles to have zero, those who are deciding between having 2 or 8 of them might lean toward 2. The type that doesn’t mind quantity but also values quality. I don’t think her article is completely useless to anyone trying to make a decision like that.

    It’s also unfair to criticize one person’s concerns on that “there’s someone else (me) worse off.” I’m also “annoyed” by your “bitching” that you just don’t know with your (even if less than ideal) health care resources, how your (probably) developed-nation-residing ass is going to continue affording meds, and on top of that, wanting to make someone dependent on your resources too…when someone else is trying to figure out where to get enough water to see them through the end of the week. Not helpful.

    Amen to wishing everyone had the right to not reproduce. I had heard so many horror stories about hoops people jumped through for reliable, permanent birth control, and sometimes still were denied. My partner was around 26 when he actually went to get a vasectomy. Maybe because it was a nice private practitioner in the Bay Area, CA (we’re not THAT rich, we stayed there a while then moved out of state because we’d otherwise be homeless), but he didn’t give my partner shit about maybe changing his mind in a couple years, just did the procedure and we had a $10 copay. Phew. I wonder if that doc would’ve been as decent if the patient were female, or less than 26 years old. I especially wonder how many other docs would’ve.

    I’m pretty sure that most people would prefer to not be homeless, resourceless and dying if anything bad happened, and enduring a painful retirement. Ok, I’ll say it differently. If given the choice, most people would indeed like to be sure they can have a comfortable and secure place to live, enough wealth to see through them floods and earthquakes and diseases and the like, and maintain quality of life for the rest of their lives. I think she meant around the same thing. While I also don’t mind renting, it does carry the risk of being evicted, having rent raised on you, contracts being changed, being prevented from making modifications, etc.

    And personally, as a caretaker of furkids, the challenge of financial compromises, and other compromises, CAN be heartbreaking. I don’t mean a $900 stroller, because what’s good for the parent’s ego is often not what’s “best of the best” for the kid. I mean things like, moving to a cheaper area where a coke factory spews pollution day and (mostly) night, an old house where mold grew in the walls, wondering what it’s doing to the kids’ respiratory and immune systems. (One eventually developed asthma. He hates the inhaler.) Listening to the vet list estimated costs for various treatment options, and hating myself for not automatically picking the one that’s best for the kid we brought in, because I have to think about the others at home. I can go on if anyone cares. Every thought on that paragraph was right, to ME.

    As for adults being expensive to keep alive too, that fuels a huge problem. The adults who, for whatever reason, don’t bring in more money than they cost, with labels like elderly, retarded, crippled, usually aren’t expected to start earning big in 18 years. And it’s considered a bit drastic by some, but killing them off is routine for others.

    • WL says:

      I pity all the kids who are sent to public schools, or any traditional-type private schools, or formal education in general. A few years ago, my partner and I were thinking about having kids, and at the time, http://www.centuryschool.org/ was the only option we could find that we would even consider sending a defenseless minor to.

      She admits it’s “not the strict minimum required to raise a child” but I’m not interested in the minimum to keep a body alive for 18 years, but the minimum required to give the best start possible, as she is.

      I loved this comment: “Still, if we’d had kids but couldn’t feed, house, clothe, medicate, and educate them we’d be hateful selfish creatures”

      Also, I also would like to see the accusations of condescension on articles about how you shouldn’t overdose on APAP because someone died from it (maybe with stats about how often it happens), or how caffeine is a real drug and taking a full bottle of no doz will kill you (but one group of college kids is stupid, the rest of the world doesn’t need to be told that, right?) -_-

      • Natalia says:

        I pity all the kids who are sent to public schools, or any traditional-type private schools, or formal education in general. A few years ago, my partner and I were thinking about having kids, and at the time, http://www.centuryschool.org/ was the only option we could find that we would even consider sending a defenseless minor to.

        O hi, Gwyneth Paltrow! Good to know you’ve moved on from the Cup-a-Soup meme. :)

    • EG says:

      To people who want to have a family that includes human dependents (preferably without forcing kids into a world you chose for them without their consent?) but are worried about health costs, you might want to 1) find more help–it does take a village! 2) wait and be sure and 3) look into adopting waiting children so you have some backup from the state, as well as being fairly confident you are providing better care, guidance, and education than they would otherwise have.

      1) Oh, you don’t say? I totes never thought of that! Thanks! Where, precisely, should I be finding this “more help” of which you speak?

      2) I’m 36. How much longer should I wait, would you say? Two years? Four years? Eight years?

      3) Oh, for fuck’s sake. I check this every so often, and there are precisely zero children under the age of 10 up for adoption through the NY foster system. I realize that the distinction between taking a teenager into your home and having a baby may escape some people, but rest assured that it’s a huge one.

      Also, I can’t understand why these people care enough to toss away $ at wardrobes or hair styling UNLESS they’re distracted by something like children.

      I have no idea what on earth you’re talking about here or how it relates to anything having to do with this article.

      As for adults being expensive to keep alive too, that fuels a huge problem. The adults who, for whatever reason, don’t bring in more money than they cost, with labels like elderly, retarded, crippled, usually aren’t expected to start earning big in 18 years. And it’s considered a bit drastic by some, but killing them off is routine for others.

      I just thought I’d pull this quotation out and highlight it. Adults who cost more money than they bring in are a “huge problem,” although killing them off may be considered a bit drastic by some, it’s routine for others.

      OK, I think I’m about ready to dismiss your judgment on every little thing.

      • tinfoil hattie says:

        EG: I know you feel discouraged about not getting to have kids, but … I remain hopeful for you, and may I just add anecdata: 36 when I had my first kid, 38 when I miscarried a second pregnancy, 39 when I had the second kid. I know this does not apply to your situatuion. It’s just that there are always exceptions to the “gasp! you’re doomed!” rules about almost everything.

        I think you would make the kind of parent I wish I had known when my kids were babies. May your wishes come about, and soon!

      • EG says:

        Thanks, Hattie. I really appreciate the good wishes; it’s been a really rotten week for me regarding these things, so it’s nice to get support and inspiring stories. And thanks for the kind words; I’m lucky to have a had a good feminist mom to model myself on!

      • gahanon says:

        This. Rooting for you, EG.

      • Storyphile says:

        More anecdata! First kid at 38, just turning 40 and trying for kid 2!

      • WL says:

        1) Friends and family, neighbors, communities, things like that? If you’re religious, your church, temple, or other group members can also help out. Anyone who can gift you their time, lend you supplies, take care of your family when you’re sick, give a ride when you can’t drive, sit when you’re busy, just lend an ear, start coops and playgroups etc, can be part of the village. A support network should be in place for any parent (and ideally for every person).

        2) Until you’ve sorted out your feelings and know you’re ready. It’s not about a number of years, but amount of resources, knowledge, ability, maturity, and wisdom. Some people aren’t ready to be responsible parents even when they’re 80. Others are before they hit 20.

        3) Exactly where are you checking this every so often? AdoptUSKids?

        I realize that the distinction between taking one dependent into your home and another dependent may escape some people, but rest assured it’s a huge one.

        I have no idea what on earth you’re talking about here or how it relates to anything having to do with this article.

        The rebuttal article; she said she saved money from having kids, because they distracted her from spending money on clothes she doesn’t need etc.

        Adults who cost more money than they bring in are a “huge problem”…

        FUELS a huge problem. Reading comprehension?

        …although killing them off may be considered a bit drastic by some, it’s routine for others.

        Yes, and that’s the huge problem. I’ve long agonized about what to do about the many people who are poisoned, strangled, disconnected from life support, etc in institutions because they stopped being profitable. And the kids who are murdered by their own parents because they’re different… If it’s about “normal” kids, a mom suffocating her kids is huge news, shocking, evil, with major jail time for her. If it’s about autistic kids, or CP kids, or retarded kids, well, that’s understandable, the poor parents were stressed out by having to care for their weirdo children, no wonder they were driven to murder, etc etc, so they can get away with nothing at all or a slap on the wrist.

        Not being neurotypical myself, maybe I’m lucky to have survived to adulthood in this culture.

        OK, I think I’m about ready to dismiss your judgment on every little thing.

        Why? If you dislike one message the messenger says, you should ignore the others? What if I said 2 + 3 = 5, would you refuse to believe it because I’m the one that said it?

  24. Natalia says:

    MOST people want to be sure that they can buy and pay for a home, save up for an emergency fund and enjoy a comfortable retirement.

    Most people. Bahaha.

    Yeah, as someone who’s heard everything from “how dare you have a child without having paid off your student debt, you slut” to “you can’t give your child the best in life, you should consider giving him up for adoption” by now, I was pretty amused by this article.

    • tinfoil hattie says:

      That’s some kick-ass calculation, DonnaL. I couldn’t figure out enough ways to get to $1.5 million!

      I guess what the author might really mean is, rich people shouldn’t have kids.

    • tinfoil hattie says:

      That’s some kick-ass calculation, DonnaL. I couldn’t figure out enough ways to get to $1.5 million!

      I guess what the author might really mean is, rich people shouldn’t have kids.

    • tinfoil hattie says:

      Dammit, I hate when I put my comment in the wrong place. Sorry about that.

      What I meant to say is, I’m willing to bet that “most” people worry about food, shelter, clothing, and health care – child-free/childless and parents alike. Retirement? Savings? Ahh, but that’s the reason I HAD kids, mwahhh ha ha! So that they will have to take care of me!

  25. mh says:

    In my own experience, parenthood has taught me some things I don’t think I would otherwise have learned, and I think this article illustrates one of them: you have to live in the moment and without a plan, to some degree. I think there are other ways besides parenthood to learn this (and of course, parents should ideally have some kind of a plan for their finances!)

    I knwo this sounds trite, but I just don’t care so much about money and the stuff it buys. I do have a special-needs child, and it is true that is expensive: that isn’t what bothers me about it. The social part is much more of a struggle.

    I would say this: in retrospect, I am extremely grateful I was able to plan my pregnancy, and I think having babies or not on your own term is what’s important. However, you can’t control everything; it’s just how life is.

  26. Fucking hell. As a
    1) Non-white
    2) childfree
    3) (step)parent,

    I really pretty much hate everybody on this thread right now. Bowing out before I descend into frothing, useless rage.

    • Lots of support for this comment, MK. <3

    • Combray says:

      Yeah, this thread is pretty awful. Parts of the article are obnoxious, but I don’t think it’s bad enough to warrant all of the pushback here. A really special vitriol is often reserved for women who choose not to have children, but some of the commenters here are either negating that entirely or dismissing it as something that warrants discussion.

      Saying “but women have to justify having kids too!” just sounds like “what about the menz” in this context, because no one is saying they don’t. This article just isn’t about that. Critiquing the author’s condescending tone is one thing, but turning another discussion about an article on childfree women into a discussion about parents is pretty annoying.

    • SophiaBlue says:

      Word.

    • Fat Steve says:

      Fucking hell. As a
      1) Non-white
      2) childfree
      3) (step)parent,

      I really pretty much hate everybody on this thread right now. Bowing out before I descend into frothing, useless rage.

      Well, I think that we can all agree that the argument about how expensive it is to raise a child would be better served in an article about subsidies for mothers below the poverty line.

    • Yvonne says:

      I have to agree with you. I’m really dismayed at the tone that some women are just not allowed to make and write about choices that just might only fit in with their own context or values and might not fit in with everybody else’s. Sometimes when it’s not about you, it just isn’t.

      I also get frustrated with the vitriol accorded some who comment, all often because of some usage of words or language that is familiar to a select few, but just may not be as familiar to all.

      Personally, as a mother of 3 grown children in their early twenties, I found the article very interesting. It resonated with some of the views of my own children. And weird as it may be to some persons on this thread, they, at this stage at least, actually do aspire to having their own houses and being financially independent. They’ve seen my enormous struggle up close and personal. And before anybody here tries to suggest I was ‘bad’ in my parenting in not ‘hiding’ financial insecurity and hardship, believe me I tried that, but kids are unbelievably perceptive.

  27. Catherine says:

    As someone who has spent a lot of my adult life hearing all my friends tell me, “oh my god having a kid costs more than a million dollars,” and “all the studies show that parents lie to themselves when they say having kids makes you happy, because really all it does is decrease your happiness,” I was a little confused and annoyed at the revelatory tone of the article. But hey, my friends aren’t everybody’s friends, and if somebody gave this issue thought for the first time after reading the article, then that’s a win, I guess.

    What I can’t stand is this: Lots of child-free women on this blog talk about the unwanted social pressure, the shaming, the general lack of support and respect for their choices. And then, feminist women with children sometimes end up saying the same thing. I was honest-to-goodness afraid to tell my friends when I got pregnant. I wasn’t ready to face the judgement I knew I’d get for it.

    So, my question is this… is there some way we could stop doing this to each other, and actually leave people’s reproductive choices alone? I’m not trying to be snarky or condescending, it’s an honest question.

    • zuzu says:

      I was honest-to-goodness afraid to tell my friends when I got pregnant. I wasn’t ready to face the judgement I knew I’d get for it.

      I assume they eventually found out. Were your fears realized?

      • Catherine says:

        Yeah, kinda. I mean, they were polite enough to mostly keep it to themselves, but their feelings were pretty obvious. I don’t think they’ll be coming over so much once the baby’s born.

      • zuzu says:

        Have you actually talked to them about how they feel? Because if you haven’t, and they’ve “mostly kept it to themselves,” then you may just be projecting onto them.

        Or maybe they aren’t happy that you think so little of them.

      • Meaghan says:

        I can’t reply to your comment zuzu, but assuming this person is “projecting their feelings” you know it might be true, but that also is assuming a lot.

      • Fat Steve says:

        I can’t reply to your comment zuzu, but assuming this person is “projecting their feelings” you know it might be true, but that also is assuming a lot.

        a) you are replying to her comment.

        b) she uses the words ‘may and ‘maybe’ enough to make it clear that she very much is talking about what ‘might be true’ and not making assumptions

      • zuzu says:

        Meaghan, I see a lot of assumptions on Catherine’s part here:

        1) She was afraid of her friends’ reactions to her pregnancy, so she was reluctant to tell them;

        2) When the news came out, they were “polite enough to mostly keep it to themselves,” which indicates that her fears of a terrible reaction were largely unfounded, though she does not give any examples of the ones who did not in fact keep it to themselves; and yet

        3) Despite the fact that these friends have not in fact (mostly) reacted the way she was afraid they would, she anticipates that she “do[es]n’t think they’ll be coming over so much once the baby’s born.”

        Again, no concrete evidence given, just guessing.

        Hey, for all I know, these friends are vocally anti-child, but from what she’s written here, it doesn’t sound like it. But friends do have a way of picking up signals that they’re not wanted or trusted. And if Catherine has decided, despite evidence to the contrary, that these friends are hostile to her pregnancy and will not be coming around so much once the baby’s born, her friends may sense that Catherine doesn’t have room in her life for them anymore and her fears become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

        I mean, she could talk to her friends, but it’s just so much easier to assume that they hate her for breeding, right?

      • Catherine says:

        To be honest, it feels a little weird to go into a lot of detail, so I’ll just say this:

        I wasn’t concerned that they would react terribly, I was concerned that they would judge me. I said they “mostly” kept their feelings to themselves, not entirely. And yes, we have managed to have a few conversations about it.

        I think I’ll leave it there.

      • SophiaBlue says:

        It’s sad but unfortunately not unexpected that someone asking that feminists on both sides of the debate not judge so much immediately gets judged. Zuzu, don’t you think that maybe Catherine knows her life and her friends well enough that she is a better judge than you of what her friends think of her?

      • rayuela23 says:

        Sophia Blue:

        Word.

      • tomek says:

        It’s sad but unfortunately not unexpected that someone asking that feminists on both sides of the debate not judge so much immediately gets judged.

        interesting me that u say on sides both of debate. debate of which? debate of woman should have child or not? i thought feminit agree of child having is personal choice

      • zuzu says:

        Zuzu, don’t you think that maybe Catherine knows her life and her friends well enough that she is a better judge than you of what her friends think of her?

        Sure. But she’s the one who thought her friends were going to judge her for being pregnant, and then they didn’t. Which is a fact she left out of her OMG PEOPLE ARE SO TERRIBLE TO MOTHERS OP, perhaps because it would have undercut her “Poor me, my feminist friends are so anti-child” comment.

      • tinfoil hattie says:

        Catherine, I had some of the same fears, and they were well-founded, it turned out. I’m so sorry you’re going through is. It’s very hard.

      • bleh says:

        When friends have children it changes how they relate to you. Of course, friends may (do) judge reproductive choices, but surely they also feel the weight of how the decision affects them and their relationships with the soon-to-be-parents. For example, they will either follow the parent’s (child’s) schedules or not see their friends much anymore. They will mostly do kid things because that is what the parents do. They will have to attend events at the new parents’ home – because it is easier for people w/ kids to host than to go out. They will listen to both praise and complaints about parenting and have to choose their responses carefully or be accused of not understanding. It is actually quite difficult to be friends with parents, when you are child-free. Maybe it’s fear…

    • Hey Catherine,

      While I totally agree with your question, and join you in wondering that, that would require people not being assholes at each other, and that’s apparently impossible.

      • Henry says:

        It would require everyone getting a healthy education in minding their own goddamned business. Nothing wrong with articles presenting facts…”like if you decide to have a kid this is what the various things you might buy for him/her cost” the rest we can do without.

  28. Fat Steve says:

    Why is it that a woman journalist is immediately assumed to be affluent?

    I know two male journalists who write occasional pieces for the Times, yet everyone who knows them would describe them as ‘struggling’ financially, including friends who work as school teachers and nurses.

    The New York Times may be a well respected (okay, national) newspaper, but they certainly don’t pay a fortune.

    • zuzu says:

      Maybe this:

      My husband and I, both in our late 20s, share those kinds of goals with others like us, but it seems obvious that the single decision that can best help us achieve them is one that many newly married, affluent young adults don’t usually consider: Don’t have children.

      • Fat Steve says:

        That’s true about this specific case. However, many of the above comments allude to the fact that most of the Times female contributors are affluent.

      • Fat Steve says:

        You do point out something valuable with that quote. If the author was being condescending, then she was only being condescending towards newly married, affluent young adults.

      • Past my expiration date says:

        Fat Steve, do you think that the author thinks that everybody else usually does consider not having children, and newly-married affluent young adults are an exception?

      • Fat Steve says:

        Fat Steve, do you think that the author thinks that everybody else usually does consider not having children, and newly-married affluent young adults are an exception?

        I couldn’t say. I have no actual evidence upon which to make that statement, though the fact that she did qualify her comment by directing it specifically at newly-married affluent young adults, does strongly suggest that she was only addressing that particular statement at them.

  29. Eleanor says:

    I am a parent of two, a teen and a tween. I read the article – and while I am most likely part of her ‘target audience’ – I also thought it was quite sensible, and not at all condescending.

    She brought up issues I had not really focused on when choosing to have childern, and there have been huge costs to my ignorance. Yes, I did run some budget numbers and take the advice generally avialble and given into consideration. I knew children ‘cost money.’ I recall we more or less worked off the then popular 800k figure – without really grappling with the perfectly clear stipulation that that figure DID NOT account for college costs, and hidden costs weren’t even discussed. And even though I took econ 101, the concept of ‘opportunity cost’ wasn’t a big part of my world view at the time. (What can I say? I was young. The odds didn’t apply to me.) And I am quite fortunate that both of my children were desired and planned.

    Now – my baby lust was very strong, I probably would have done it anyway – but I *did* misjudge the true expense of kids. The ‘cash off the top’ they require is more than the margin between ‘constant financial stress’ and financial security at my income level. I think about it all the time. I don’t begrudge them this, or resent it – but I do own it. It is the daily reality of my life. And will be for decades to come. And in retrospect, I wish I *had* considered more fully this aspect of choosing to be a bio-parent. Forewarned and forearmed and all that.

    I *did* hand wave away the what I now know to be the nearly inevitable career hit. The studies hadn’t been done yet, so I figured it wouldn’t be that hard to super-mom my way through. In my case – it turned out I didn’t beat the odds.

    I never even considered the emotional and financial-stress driven toll children would take on my marriage, ultimately causing him to want a divorce. To my furious dismay, because it exacerbated rather than eased the financial strains of raising children.

    I made a number of assumptions about my financial outlook and prospects that turned out to be quite wrong. And NOBODY in my wider circle of friends/family/advisors offered anything better. And they all viewed themselves to be quite sensible people with stable middle class views about, yes, houses and retirements and a vision of the ‘good life’ that reflects exactly what the author of this article is talking about. Children were simply a leap of faith.

    Articles like this suggest a different way of looking at that decision.

    • WL says:

      I just wanted to say, thank you for your post. It doesn’t make someone a “stupid bad person” or anything for not thinking of everything. I also agree it’s not condescending to not assume everyone already knows everything. Personally, I think there’s something wrong with the attitude of “If you don’t think I already know everything, then you’re being insulting and condescending.” There are plenty of people who don’t know what they’re getting into despite trying (and plenty who actually are too “stupid” to try).

  30. KaralynZ says:

    Married, with one child. My husband and I always both wanted children, plural. But economic factors are causing us to constantly reconsider it. We love our child and would love another one, but we can’t afford one right now. Do we want to wait until his student loans are paid off? (Which would put an 8 or more year gap between kids.) Do we want to not have another, (something we would have thought unthinkable 10 years ago.)

    It’s so hard. Even harder when people we try to talk to about it call us “selfish” for possibly not having any more. It’s selfish to want to make sure the child we already have has a safe place to live? That we won’t default on our mortgage? That he has reliable childcare and good healthcare? That he has educational opportunities that will allow him to do well in life? If that’s selfish, fuck yes we are.

    • tomek says:

      personably i find very funny when mothers is call people without children “selfish” because for many of great advance in techology that benefit most other people was cause by people wihtout children. it is sad to me what woman are hate each other much so they attack each other. u see man with child and man without child they can have good respect for one each other. why it not possible for woman?

      • EG says:

        many of great advance in techology that benefit most other people was cause by people wihtout children.

        Oh, was Mommy too busy changing your dirty diapers to discover cold fusion? So sorry.

        It is absurd, insulting, and stupid to tell people who don’t want to have any or more children that they are “selfish” (by placing their desires/needs above those of people who don’t exist? what even does that mean?), but not because of that, tomek.

        u see man with child and man without child they can have good respect for one each other. why it not possible for woman?

        Do you…understand the basic idea of sexism?

      • Harald says:

        I rarely comment here, but: can we pleeease have tomek banned?

        Because I believe the answer to

        Do you…understand the basic idea of sexism?

        is unfortunately “no”.

      • WL says:

        Hm, my previous comments are still in moderation, but maybe this will go through.

        I think people generally are selfish when considering whether to have children or not, no matter how they decide. They think about how it will affect MY finances, or MY career, or MY joy, MY purpose of life, MY desire, MY feelings of love… The closest they get to being less selfish is caring about the pressures of people around them, such as parents and spouses.

        What they don’t consider is the kids themselves. It’s all about how CF people are looked down on, or parents are looked down on, never how the children are affected. They certainly don’t exist yet, but IF THEY WILL, that should be taken into account.

        From a narrowly selfish point of view, this makes sense too. What will MY children think of MY decisions, will they be resentful of ME or question MY motives? I don’t know why people don’t think about this more. If it enters their minds at all, they usually assume the kid will be happy and healthy, addicted to life, eternally grateful to the people who inserted Tab A into Slot B, joyful through their full and wonderful lives, spreading goodness and love to the rest of mankind, etc. The reality is, children are not an extension of their parents, money-making machines, or tools for others to use, and there’s no guarantee that they will think and feel what their parents hope; they are individual people.

        The way I see the world, it is logically impossible for a non-existent nothing to WANT anything, so it’s logically impossible to say forcing kids into this universe is in any way good for them. People who pressure others to not have kids are disregarding the interests of the parents. People who pressure others to have kids are disregarding the interests of the non-parents AND of the kids. (This probably doesn’t apply to you, especially if you have religious beliefs that there an infinite amount of lost souls in another realm, desperately hoping for a human body to be conceived and grow so they may enter our world.)

        As for tomek’s comment, isn’t that often used to excuse people who are discriminated against, even though no excuse should be needed? Lots of great scientists were black, lots of great writers were women, etc. I was brainwashed to think this way in elementary school, but as I thought more for myself, this began to infuriate me. Blacks are people no matter how many or few of them are scientists, etc. Even if all useful technology was discovered by parents or non-parents, that has no bearing on whether someone should have children.

      • Lolagirl says:

        What will MY children think of MY decisions, will they be resentful of ME or question MY motives? I don’t know why people don’t think about this more. If it enters their minds at all, they usually assume the kid will be happy and healthy, addicted to life, eternally grateful to the people who inserted Tab A into Slot B, joyful through their full and wonderful lives, spreading goodness and love to the rest of mankind, etc. The reality is, children are not an extension of their parents, money-making machines, or tools for others to use, and there’s no guarantee that they will think and feel what their parents hope; they are individual people.

        Yeah, no, I call straw parent. Upon what are you even basing these baseless set of assumptions, anyway? Because while most parents I know hope that there kids will be easygoing and happy, it is hardly a universal thing taken as a given. And the reality of what it is actually like to have a separate, autonomous person with thoughts and opinions and a personality all their own introduced into your life in the form of a child quickly disabuses you of any simplistic or narcissistic assumptions you may have had prior to that child’s birth pretty damn quickly.

        And then you put on your adult pants, adapt accordingly to live your life with that child, and get on with things.

      • EG says:

        If it enters their minds at all, they usually assume the kid will be happy and healthy, addicted to life, eternally grateful to the people who inserted Tab A into Slot B, joyful through their full and wonderful lives, spreading goodness and love to the rest of mankind, etc.

        Are the prospective parents you know stupid or something? I’m pretty sure that those I have known–particularly those who are aware of, oh, say, a history of depression in their family, for example–understand that children are complex human beings.

  31. IrishUp says:

    The thing that grates my gorganzola is how seldom these conversations acknowledge that the Enuterati are generally constrained from actually HAVING full reproductive choices. Sure, bodily autonomy is a basic human right, but the majority of “potentially pregnant people” DO NOT HAVE THIS. (PPP hereafter to refer to humans who are physically*capable* of conception and gestation).

    In this sense, it’s the ability to plan a child or plan being childfree -and remain so! – that is the relative privilege. When we are discussing “unplanned” pregnancies as being equivalent to “un-thought-through”, we are lumping in a hella large number of pregnancies carried to term via coercion, deliberate denial of access, and yes, violence. And when we demand that X level of financial security be achieved before people can chose children, we are in fact engaged in some egregious classism and Social Darwinism.

    PPP do not plan any differently from other people. However, PPP are constrained to choices amongst lack of alternatives.

  32. EG says:

    Here’s something else I find interesting: she factors in a loss of wages based on the idea that if she doesn’t have children, her career will go swimmingly–full-on optimism. OK. But then she dismisses out of hand the financial benefits of having someone invested in eldercare. It’s true that you can’t guarantee that your children will take care of you in your old age, but it’s also true that you can’t guarantee that you will continue in a good career with a good income over the course of several decades regardless of personal and economic ups and downs. Why is it OK to make one assumption and not the other? My grandfather, mother, uncle, father, aunt, and stepfather provided all kinds of free labor to their parents at the end of their lives, from financial and clerical organization to physical care to home maintenance. Why not calculate the potential return on investment there as well?

    • Andie says:

      She also doesn’t consider the possibility that not having kids would allow someone more freedom to pursue careers that perhaps don’t pay as much but may be more fulfilling.

      I know if I didn’t have kids, I’d probably be making a lot less money.. why? Because I wouldn’t HAVE to make as much.

  33. Fat Steve says:

    Personally I find the flawed analysis argument much more convincing than the ‘condescending’ argument. Here is one way that I can see that Ms. Taha’s statistics are a bit off.

    She doesn’t include the expenses that a childless couple (like myself and Mrs. Fat,) incur just on the basis of the fact that we have no children. Now not everyone is like us, but many childless couples are a lot ‘easier’ with spending money due to the fact that there isn’t a child’s education or health or whatever in the back of their mind. So that is probably one way in which the cost analysis is lacking. Plus there are other intangibles, we would probably spend a lot less money on alcohol and other things of that nature if we had a child and we wouldn’t travel as much, etc etc. (By the way, that ‘30% more fun’ statistic is ludicrous…we have way more fun than that…)

    So, yeah sure, crunching the numbers doesn’t always paint a 100% accurate picture of what reality turns out like, but Ms. Taha did crunch the numbers and got $1.7 million. A figure which many people here think is outrageous. I think this acquits her of the charge of being condescending. If her number crunching and analysis got her to a figure that all the people who accused her of being condescending find incredibly high, then she would have every right to think that people don’t consider that a child will cost $1.7 million.

    • Lolagirl says:

      I think this acquits her of the charge of being condescending. If her number crunching and analysis got her to a figure that all the people who accused her of being condescending find incredibly high, then she would have every right to think that people don’t consider that a child will cost $1.7 million.

      Just for the record, Merriam Webster defines condescening as showing or characterized by a patronizing or superior attitude toward others.

      Steve, the way that Ms. Taha came up with her outlandish figures and calculations for the costs related to having a kid is in and of itself condescending. It’s the, don’t you know how expensive that is! when actually I know how expensive it is, and no it isn’t nearly as expensive as you are claiming it to be with which some of us have taken issue.

      I have also expressed what else in her article I found to be condescending. For example, this:

      But opting out of parenthood isn’t such a fanatical financial move. In fact, it’s rather prudent.

      This:

      I cannot fathom how anyone could enter into this without a number of some sort in mind

      And this:

      It must be difficult to accept that no matter how you set aside your own interests, you cannot afford the very best of everything for your child.

      To provide just a few examples of how she comes off as condescending. It’s the way she implies that she’s actually the one taking a prudent approach to life. Furthermore, she can’t possibly fathom how anyone else would not take the same prudent path to life. Absolutely inconceivable, really! And she thinks it’s so sad that so many parents can’t afford the full platinum treatment when it comes to raising and caring for their child. This last bit is probably the most condescending thing that she says, because it’s so insulting to the majority of parents out there who still do a darn good job of raising their kids without the bestest of absolutely everything imaginable.

      News flash! kids don’t need the best of everything. In fact, they end up becoming insufferable jerks if they are given absolutely the best of everything. And then somebody else will write an article in the NYT about how entitled and bratty those kids are, because their parents go out of their way to spend, spend, spend and the sky is the limit when it comes to every little wish and desire being catered to for little junior.

      • WL says:

        I missed replying to this one earlier.

        She didn’t say it’s THE ONLY prudent thing to do, and all other options are inferior. I guess my posts aren’t the only thing you read other shit into.

        Also, saying you CAN’T fathom something is admitting it’s so outside your frame of reference that you…don’t understand it. Duh. Also, you’re equating “opting out of parenthood” with “not having a number in mind.” Which makes about as much sense as equating “math” with “hateful” so I guess I see a pattern.

        As for difficult to accept, it sure is for people who want a life with decent standards for their dependents, as I wrote about above.

        Sure, kids don’t NEED clean air, or the best medical treatments, or whatever. But if you can’t fathom why someone would WANT those things for kids, I hope you’re kept away from them.

        As for equating “best” with “most expensive,” again makes as much sense as… I give up on that one.

        Kids end up having the best opportunities for independent thinking, empathy, compassion, self motivation, etc if given the best of everything. Kids end up with a high probability of being insecure, materialistic, expectant of receiving expensive stuff, crazy enough to equate “being bought anything I ask for” with “being loved,” etc if given less-than-the-best parenting combined with tons of physical objects.

        Anyone who thinks “the best of the best for their kids” is equivalent to “parental neglect with designer clothes on top” and/or “feeding their kids nothing but candy and ice cream” has no clue what kids need and, again, shouldn’t be allowed near them.

        It’s obvious you don’t like me because I post reality checks–it’s obvious enough as you’re promoting hostility between us–but maybe as you journey through life, you’ll become receptive to confronting the truth and becoming a more rational, less egotistical person. And then you’ll remember some of the things I said and those statements will be helpful to you. And as you change, you’ll become the type of person who would be a fit caretaker. One can only hope.

    • igglanova says:

      She doesn’t include the expenses that a childless couple (like myself and Mrs. Fat,) incur just on the basis of the fact that we have no children. Now not everyone is like us, but many childless couples are a lot ‘easier’ with spending money due to the fact that there isn’t a child’s education or health or whatever in the back of their mind. So that is probably one way in which the cost analysis is lacking. Plus there are other intangibles, we would probably spend a lot less money on alcohol and other things of that nature if we had a child and we wouldn’t travel as much, etc etc.

      I’m not sure this actually weakens her analysis. Her point is not that she and her husband would literally have $1.7 million more in their savings account at the end of the time period under analysis, but that they would have $1.7 million to spend on themselves rather than on a dependent.

  34. Natalia says:

    After catching up with *all* of these comments, finally (what? It’s been a slow week), let me just say that:

    If you don’t want kids, don’t have kids. And don’t try to justify your decision with: “But I’m just too enlightened, you see. Too complex, too interesting, too smart/frugal/ethical/sexy/amazing. Unlike you stupid peasants who, according to my calculations (did I mention I’m smart?), must make zillions of dollars to provide their stupid spawn with private educations and Chloe onesies. So they can be less stupid. Maybe.”

    If you want kids, have kids. And don’t try to justify your decision with: “But I’m just too selfless, you see. Too loving, too saintly, too kind/spiritual/profound/charitable/wonderful/and too damn beautiful to not pass my amazing genes on. Unlike you sad, dried up hags with your millions of cats and overpriced vibrators. Enjoy being old and lonely and dying alone in your apartment and being eaten by those cats! Haha!”

    In fact, don’t try to justify your decisions, period. And maybe we’ll eventually get to that point when grown-ass adults won’t be *expected* to receive validation for exercising basic reproductive rights.

    • Fat Steve says:

      In fact, don’t try to justify your decisions, period. And maybe we’ll eventually get to that point when grown-ass adults won’t be *expected* to receive validation for exercising basic reproductive rights.

      This pretty much sums up our fundamental difference on this issue. My attitude would be:

      Don’t judge people to harshly for justifying their major life decisions at it seems like it is all too human a response.

    • Lolagirl says:

      In fact, don’t try to justify your decisions, period. And maybe we’ll eventually get to that point when grown-ass adults won’t be *expected* to receive validation for exercising basic reproductive rights.

      Amen to this.

      The way that our society pits women against each other to justify everything and everything they do is absurd. We all need to stop feeling like we have to apologize for not doing what everyone or anyone else is doing (or worse yet condemn anyone who doesn’t do it just like you do.) I’m personally sick of the way discourse wrt life choices always seems to devolve into an us v. them fight, whether that be the married v. unmarried or the parent v. nonparent.

      Enough already.

      • Bagelsan says:

        This completely ignores the power imbalance here; saying “stop justifying your choice to not have kids!” is like saying “stop justifying your choice to marry someone of the same sex!” When one choice gets way more pushback than another, it deserves some justification. And if parents hate the idea that non-parenting is justifiable then they can just kindly stfu and not read the damn thing.

      • Jill says:

        I agree that no one should have to “justify” the reasons why they had kids or didn’t have them. But explaining your reasoning isn’t justification, necessarily. And we explain our reasoning for things all the time. In the past few days, just off the top of my head, I have offered reasons for why I’m not longer working at a law firm; why I live in New York; why I’m taking a particular vacation; why I want to paint my apartment; why I think my friend should adopt a rescue dog; why I have a cat; etc etc.

        When it comes to big life decisions, like having a kid, of course people are going to explain why they did (or, if they made the affirmative choice not to, why they didn’t). No one needs to justify their choices, but explaining them is actually helpful in looking at what motivates people to behave in certain ways, and, when it comes to reproduction, how we can make a wider range of options available to everyone.

        Also, and I know I will probably get slammed for this, there is such a thing as a bad choice when it comes to reproduction. I still think people should be legally allowed to make whatever choices they want, but that doesn’t mean all choices are good choices. When it comes to abortion I actually think this is less true, since abortion is basically just maintaining the status quo. But when it comes to bringing a real-live child into the world? Yeah, some people make shitty decisions. Like frankly I think it would be a really shitty decision for a Quiverfull woman to have a 17th child if her last pregnancy almost killed her and she was warned by doctors that subsequent pregnancies would almost definitely imperil her life and would almost definitely result in a premature child unlikely to survive. She should still have the legal right to do it and to leave her 16 other children without a mother, but I think it’s a really bad decision.

      • Natalia says:

        You do realize that for everyone who isn’t wealthy, straight, of the “right” religion depending on where they live, of the “right” colour and genetic make-up and so on, reproducing is actually something they are asked to defend on a regular basis, right?

        And that, no matter what kind of picture the NYT or the white-washed media may paint for us, those parents are actually the majority living in the world today…? Simply because most people out there are pretty poor…?

      • Natalia says:

        When it comes to abortion I actually think this is less true, since abortion is basically just maintaining the status quo.

        Jill, how many poor people do you know who were forced to get unwanted abortions as a matter of basic survival? People with abusive employers, for example, or people with abusive relatives? Or, on the flip-side, how many people do you know whose decision to have an abortion was a way *out* of a horrible, abusive situation?

        Also, how many people do you think get them because the ultrasound technician says “it’s a girl!” and the husband and the in-laws are going, “Bitch, if you have a girl, we’re throwing you out of the house”…?

        When we’re talking about maintaining the status quo, we can’t extrapolate that to everyone.

        The shallow abortion debate in the States obscures some very real issues wrt bodily autonomy. Because we have to fight for the mere right to maintain legal access to abortion, we don’t have time to stop and think about how poverty and abuse figure into the equation.

        I’m related to someone who was forced to get an abortion by a totally evil ex. “Get rid of it and I won’t have to beat it out of you.” Of course, he hit her anyway, and then he abandoned her after there was nothing left of her confidence to destroy, and when she was later in an accident and told she would never have children, she went ahead and tied a noose around her neck.

        That was some fucked-up shit to deal with, and it has really put me off the idea that an abortion can’t possibly be a major, life-changing decision for someone.

        To put it in a different context, another relative of mine was saved when she decided, on her own terms, to get an abortion in order to once and for all escape an equally abusive ex (yeah, women in my family tend to fall for assholes). This was also not a decision made in order to maintain the status quo – it was a life-changing event. For the first time in years, she made a decision *for herself*. That changed her entire perspective. I think the fact that she is living a normal life now all goes back to that one time she said, “I’m doing what’s best for ME. I am NOT going to have his child. Fuck that.”

        These decisions are different for everyone. And they have consequences – positive, negative, or both. A few years ago, the one time I had a genuine pregnancy scare and wasn’t at all interested in having a child, the thought that, “Well, if this is true, then I’ll get an abortion” was very comforting and easy to entertain. But that just means I was lucky, you know? I knew I wasn’t ready to be a mom, and I wasn’t dealing with poverty and/or some abusive prick who wanted to make those decisions for me.

  35. So here’s a pattern I’ve seen emerge, from all these threads:

    Childfree people get way more pushback for SAYING they don’t want children, than they get pushback for not actually HAVING them.

    Childhaving people get way more pushback for HAVING kids, but practically none for SAYING they want them.

    I think a whole lot of the “NO U” between both groups is that CFBC people are saying “well, nobody gives you shit for wanting kids!!!” but aren’t nearly as sensitive to the shit parents get for actually having them, while the childhaving people are saying “well nobody gives you shit for having kids!!!” while not being sensitive to the fact that CFBC peeps vocalising their preference is what’s actually being punished. It’s the golden rule gone horribly awry.

    Does that make sense? Am I talking out my ass?

    • And I say that childhaving people have practically no pushback for saying they want kids from the angle of…like, for example, my friend with MS, who always got sage nods and “yeah, yeah, totes” when she said she wanted kids, but now that she’s making her actual pregnancy plans she’s being suddenly met with BUT UR DISABILITY HDU. Just to clarify.

    • EG says:

      That makes perfect sense to me, Mac, and completely matches my observations as well. So, co-signed, if you’ll allow!

    • Andie says:

      Yeah I agree with what you’ve written here.

      I don’t want to deny that women who are CFBC get a LOT of flack and pressure and “But BABIIEEEEEES, WHYYYYYYY NOTTTTTTTT?” and are ridiculed as selfish. At the same time, women are encouraged to have babies but if they do it under anything but the most ideal circumstances we also get flack and the “Well, why didn’t you think of that before getting yourself knocked up?”

      (from the personal anecdote file: I’ve been asked to justify my inability to tell the future – that is, my marriage falling apart – and told that I should have thought more about ‘my’ decision to have children and that I shouldn’t bitch about being a single parent)

  36. Lolagirl says:

    That, or they’ve been on welfare so long they forgot that some people’s time is valuable.

    I know WL thought this thread was dead enough that he could spew his hateful and vapid nonsense in form of wall o text unchecked, but I thought I would pull this parting shot out of his last comment just to illustrate how vile and trollish he truly is. I don’t care what rationalization he attempts to use in his own defense (irony, self-spoofing, brazen truth telling?) he is clearly a Troll and deserves to be called out as such.

  37. WL says:

    You’re pretty paranoid and make a lot of false assumptions about me, but ok. At least you got my name right.

    Sorry if I write a lot..?

    I meant it literally, without any negative connotations. There is NOTHING wrong with being on welfare (I’m actually a socialist so in my ideal world, everyone would have access to whatever they needed without any penalty for lack of work). Plus, contrary to a lot of people’s beliefs, people on welfare contribute exactly the same amount to the economy as working people who spend the same amount of money…not that I think “how good it is for the economy” is anywhere near equal to “how good it is for people” or “how moral it is.”

    But ok, you can adjust it to “been at at low income levels for so long that…” Depending on the area (eg country, state/province), I recall that some people get more money on welfare than they would working. So I’ll apologize for that oversight.

    I’m unemployed and not on welfare, and the value of my time is exactly $0.00 + whatever things of value I do–eg cleaning the house could be compared to the amount of money my partner might otherwise spend his time doing or hire someone else to do. His time is valuable at a lot more per hour, thus the opportunity cost of him spending even one extra hour a week cleaning would add up.

    Let’s say you can spend time picking up something free that you saw on CL, as opposed to spending a minute or so ordering it new…which is what someone suggested that affluent ($100k+/year) families do.

    If the opportunity cost of doing so is 25 cents per hour (very low economic productivity), then even if it took you 3 hours to walk there, pick it up, and walk back, it would SAVE you around $1.25 compared to ordering it for $2. It would be smart of you to do so, all else being equal.

    If the opportunity cost of doing so is $500 per hour (higher economic productivity), then taking 3 hours to pick it up for free would COST you around $1,498. It would be amazingly stupid of you to do so, all else being equal.

    In fact, even if it cost $1,200 new, it would still COST you around $300.

    If you think math and truth are hateful and vapid, that just shows what kind of mind you have and I hope you never brainwash kids into thinking the same way.

    It’s sad that I have to spell out this really simple stuff.

    I’m also very sad this thread is dead; I hoped people would see new comments via feed and reply more. It’s an interesting topic with even more interesting comments.

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