Here's something I'll never understand. Nine times out of 10, if I let slip that my daughter is an only child, the person I'm chatting with informs me it's time to have another baby. But never has anyone offered me some cash to help raise my kid.
Funny, isn't it? People are so darn opinionated about only children that they'll waltz right into my womb. They love nothing more than to tell us what we're doing wrong, and why we need to fix it. But they don't spend a lot of time finding out whether we're in any place to take their suggestions.
I'll tell you right now, I'm not. The reasons are varied -- from a difficult pregnancy to a husband who was contented to be an only child himself -- but I can't deny that finances have played a role. How can they not? The latest estimate (pulled from The Case for the Only Child: Your Essential Guide by Susan Newman, Ph.D.) claims it costs about $286,000 to raise a kid (not including college) these days. I could buy a new house for that. In some neighborhoods, I could buy TWO houses for that.
As it is, I'm a working mother as much because I have to be as because I want to be. I went back to work when my daughter was 7 weeks old, and since then have retained at least part-time employment. If I didn't, we wouldn't be able to pay the mortgage. Still think I need to have another kid?
As the average age of moms rises (some 41 percent of newborns are born to women over 35 these days) and as the economy dives, I sit here waiting for all those nosy nellies to pull their opinions out of my belly and start crunching numbers. I'm waiting for all the parents who comment on blogs about bad parents with "if you can't take care of children, you shouldn't have them" to assign that rubric to the every day non-child abusing among us.
The way I see it, opting out on a big family is the responsible choice for many families (notice I said many, not all). We're good parents for making the tough choice to be comfortable with one child instead of struggling with two or three.
Where the "only children are spoiled children" folks see a kid being given too many choices, I see a child who will never have to eat ramen noodles because her mom couldn't afford to buy whole wheat pasta for a family of four. Where the "kids need siblings" folks see a kid who isn't sharing a bedroom or toys, I see a child who doesn't have to make do with just one book because mom isn't working two jobs that keep her from taking any of her kids to the library.
Do you give people with only children grief? Do you ever stop to ask about their finances first?
Image via Mrs Logic/Flickr