Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The costs of parenting 

You should read this very thoughtful article by Glenn Reynolds on the social and emotional costs of parenting in the current US. He starts with a word on the declining birth rate which has been a concern for many years. The knee-jerk answer is that middle-class families should have more children.

My wife and I decided to have two children. We were at a table for a gathering last night with another couple who are expecting their second child. I asked if they would stop at two. Their answer was yes and you could quess the reasons they provided. Beyond the usual 2am feedings and true effort of parenting, we got quickly to the time factor. We both conceded that we felt two children was the most we could give sufficient time. Yet, both couples have at least one spouse from a large family and one generation from an even larger family.

Do not quickly dismiss the time factor that current parents have to negotiate. Society is moving young professionals to distant locations away from traditional bases of support like family and community.

My wife and I recently threw out our long-held plans. A great deal of our justification for the big change was that we wanted to live life with our children today. The big plan had us living with more money, but at a cost of less time for our children. We willingly gave up our goals. Many may not want to hear that answer. It does not come with a government subsidy nor social approval. The costs of parenting today is very real, financially, emotionally, and socially.

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