I started this story, titled “Opting Out of Parenthood, With Finances in Mind” a little bit sad. I thought that money was a bad reason to have or not have children. Someone else (a friend, a farmer who can’t remember where she heard it) articulated the perspective I try for: Don’t postpone joy.
I think for those in a challenging avocation, the decision to have children is an ongoing question. If you have a job that you feel you can put on hold and come back to easily, that’s one thing. But in academics where time is always more valuable than even money (though its nice to be paid a living wage), the temptation to wait, and then discover it is too late, or too hard, or just not going to work for a 1000 reasons, is very sad. Alternatively, watching the people who have a stay-at-home partner climb ahead is frustrating, especially when you’re getting up in the middle of the night for a crying child (let alone bailing them out of jail for drug issues).
Yet the article is insightful, and a challenging to some main stream ideas. There are a number of good non-pecuniary quotes:
The number is actually the easier part of all. Deciding whether to have children is so difficult because it requires evaluating benefits you simply cannot know or understand unless you experience them firsthand.
Parenting involves lots of sacrifices, and that is partly why I am disinclined to try it. But choosing not to have children does not reflect selfishness, or at least no more than parents display in having children in the first place. People don’t decide to have children because those hypothetical offspring need someone to care for them; those children’s needs don’t exist until they are brought into the world.
In the end, although there is an emphasis about the financial aspects of parenthood, there are some well-reasoned points being made. It’s difficult to know what is truly in your heart. And one of the very hardest things to do is to live life without regrets (that’s courtesy of the Dalai Lama)