Money and the Timing of Children

clock with time for kids on faceKyle and I have been married for 3.5 years, and 1) we don’t have any kids, 2) we’re not pregnant, and 3) we’re not trying to get pregnant.  We do want to have (two or three) children in the future.  And the timing of those decisions has nothing to do with our finances.


This week, our church started a series titled “God and the Rest of the Week,” which is about not segregating God into solely the time we spend with the church.  The first message in the series was on parenthood.  Much of the message was directed at men regarding fatherhood – there seems to be an assumption that the SAHMs are doing a decent job (this is such a different perspective than the one I get from Sheryl Sandberg, Sharon Meers, and Joanna Strober).  Near the end of the message on Psalm 127, our pastor expounded on what a blessing children are.  “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.”


At the end of the message, he added an aside to childless couples like us, admonishing us to not let our selfish attitudes prevail over God’s desires for our life:


“We have a culture that increasingly sees children as a burden and as an encumbrance to the American dream.  Financially, they are a burden.  They’re a burden on your travel desires.  You can’t go to movies at night if you got kids.  Alright?  So the wisdom of the day is don’t have many kids, if you have any, don’t have many because they’re going to mess up your life. And I know of a lot of couples who wait years before having kids because they don’t want the child to get in the way of their yuppie lifestyle.  I’ve heard them say, ‘Well, I just want to enjoy my wife or my husband for a while, for a few dozen years before we have kids…’


The primary purpose of kids is not to accessorize your life.  God gives your kids to you for a mission purpose.  If you’re a disciple of Jesus, your whole life is not about you, it’s about Jesus’s mission, and that certainly applies to your family, and you have to learn to think that way.”


In this part of the sermon, my pastor postulates two reasons why married couples would choose to delay having children for “years.”  The first is financial and the second is relational.


For me, 100% of the reason I haven’t wanted to start trying to reproduce yet is relational; none is financial.  Yet I think when people look at us, they likely ascribe our childlessness to our finances or perhaps our career stage.


Back when I was in college and taking “Psychology of Close Relationships,” I decided that I would really like to be married for five years before having a child – this was based on what I researched in that class regarding relationship satisfaction and stability and the effect of the presence of children in the home… but was essentially just a guess.  Both my parents and Kyle’s parents also waited more than five years after they were married before having their first children (us) and I thought those were good examples. (I’m not trying to justify this approach to decision-making to my pastor or others who share his opinion.  I’m just trying to explain that I think of it as primarily about strengthening our marriage rather than viewing children as a burden.)  Because Kyle and I got married when we were rather young (24), waiting five years should not compromise our age-related fertility too much.


I’ve been pleasantly surprised that we’ve only been asked when we’re going to start having kids a handful of times during our marriage (and usually by very well-intentioned friends, not nosy people).  I say pleasantly surprised because for two years leading up to our engagement, I was asked ‘When are you going to get married?” what felt like every time I turned around.  In the few months immediately preceding Kyle’s proposal, I was asked about it at least once and up to three times per week.  It stressed me out, to say the least.  (By the end, I was bold enough to say ‘I don’t know, you’ll have to ask Kyle’ to those who knew him.)


When we finally did get married I braced myself for the onslaught of questions about baby-making, but they didn’t come, even though I heard from some other friends that they were constantly bombarded.  After a while, I developed the hypothesis that we were protected by a force field of assumptions created by our dual-student status.  After all, it took several years for many of our family members to assimilate that we were actually being paid to attend school and not going into debt.  🙂  I think that most people assume that (we think) we can’t afford to have a baby while both of us are still in school and they don’t want to pressure us when it’s not an option.  But it is an option, financially speaking.


I don’t think that marriage should be delayed just for financial reasons like not being able to afford a big wedding or a house.  (I do think it should be delayed/called off if the couple is not on the same page about how to handle their money together.)  And it’s the same for children.  Some things in life are too important to be determined by money, and family is one of those.  I suppose there is a baseline somewhere – I think that people should be self-supporting (at least by grad school loans) before getting married, for instance, and I certainly don’t think that you should jump into parenthood if you can’t afford to feed yourself.


But Kyle and I earn enough money (and more importantly, spend little enough of it) that I think we could swing having a kid.  We might not be able to start a 529 in its first year of life, but we could feed and clothe and spend time with it.  I’ve heard arguments that the grad school and postdoc years are even better than when you have a Real Job for starting your family because of the flexibility.  If we had gotten married before grad school, I think that this would be a viable time to start to try to have a kid.  Some others in my program have had children or are pregnant (though none of them have a spouse also in a PhD program to my knowledge).


We’ll see, for all my plans, if we actually do feel financially prepared to have a baby by the time we’ve been married for five years.  A lot will change for us between now and then – graduating, finding new jobs, moving.  It could be that I’m using our relationship as a primary excuse and will find a secondary excuse when this one expires.  But I hope by that time I’m excited about and viscerally want to reproduce.


Why do you think people put off having their first child?  Could you afford to have a child now if you don’t already?  Would you assume a student couldn’t afford to have a baby?


photo from Free Digital Photos


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51 Responses to "Money and the Timing of Children"

  1. Ashley says:

    I’m certainly nowhere near even contemplating a child but I have thought about the financial aspects before. I know people who had children pretty early in life and now they’re struggling to finish school/get a rewarding job/move up the career ladder– and there isn’t a lot of time to pursue those activities PLUS hang out with your kids! I just want to be stable in my finances/job first 🙂
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    1. Emily says:

      That’s like a whole other world from the one I live in! I suppose if my parents had me when they first got married, they would have been in that position too. My dad was starting MS #2 and my mom was finishing her BA, and they were still several years away from their career-type jobs. Perhaps my mom’s career wouldn’t have gotten off the ground in that situation. Among my friends, though, I can’t think of anyone who had a child so early that it seemed they were struggling inordinately in their careers.

  2. Lucas says:

    I think you are certainly asking the right questions of yourself and the choices. If you are “unwilling” to surrender your plans to God then it is likely an idol for you, but that doesn’t mean you God wants you to change what you are doing. Living within the will of God or following explicit direction from Him is a totally different question and one where we have a ton of freedom from what I see in scripture, as long as we hold our ideas and plans with an open hand and are continually seeking to become more like Him. Personally i think there are three main things wrong with a “single” focus message on why people should have kids just because they are a blessing.

    1) The Genesis 1:28 verse that is usually referenced as a “commandment” for having children really is a “blessing” instead of a commandment.

    “28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

    2) If God doesn’t allow you to have Children then the implication is that you are somehow either less blessed or not doing something right. Neither of which is true.

    3) Even for the people who have children there is always a point where you have to decide if you are ever going to say that more children is not a further “blessing”. So anyone who ever stops having kids has made this choice, which is pretty much everyone except maybe the Duggers 😉 So if the pastor has ever stopped having kids then he has also made the choice and really isn’t really qualified to say that Children are always a blessing. The choice to stop is much more about using wisdom then an “absolute” number.

    That said, having 3 kids myself I understand the purpose of “blessing” much better then when we didn’t. First and foremost, if you are willing, then God will use any difficult circumstance in your life to help you become more like Christ and understand His nature more. Kids definitely fall into one of the best tools God has for transforming you as you are faced with a immediate reflection of your choices and actions and you see the effects of your selfishness and sins very clearly on your Children who you love, as well as seeing what Unconditional love looks like on a daily basis as they are cute but often don’t “do” anything to deserve love other then their identity as your children (and being made in God’s image). So my wife and I are in a much better place relationaly to God and each other then we were before we had kids, but there have certainly been some tough patches and times where we wish we had more personal freedom to enjoy/do things together.

    Career vs kids would kind of be the next major decision point, and I think i have stronger thoughts on the wisdom of one parent managing the home and raising/teaching children vs sending your kids to day care or even school. But again there are clearly situations where this is not possible as well and to say that anyone who didn’t do that was sinning wouldn’t be biblical either.

    anyway i have waxed on, so time to sign off.

    1. Emily says:

      Thanks for your comment, Lucas! My pastor addressed the family size issue just before getting around to us DINKs and definitely does not have a Quiverfull perspective (he and his wife stopped at 4). The entire sermon was actually much broader about parenthood, but honestly I don’t think it was a great sermon as it was a little scattered. I think his main attempt in the portion I quoted was to counter the view of children as a burden in the minds of those of us who are choosing to delay. I think it is quite valid to point out the parts of Scripture that call children a blessing and expound exactly about what you are saying about sanctification and better understanding God through parenthood. I’m now trying to parse my motives and see how much is due to that “children are a burden” attitude.

      1. lucas says:

        a lot of people are more concerned with missing out on things in this life vs preparing for eternity. so I think that is the key point to make sure you have the right attitude on. I defintly don’t have this all right either.

  3. Lauren says:

    I have so many feelings about making the decision to have kids. I’ll just go with the reasons why we are waiting.

    1. Relational: We have only been married 1.5 years and would like to continue to enjoy and grow in that.
    2. Career: I am still a grad student and would like to be settled in to a career before a kid.
    3. Personal: We just don’t want to have a kid yet.

    I think that we could certainly afford to have a child at this point, so that is not really affecting our decision.

    As far as people pressuring us to have kids, my parents are borderline discouraging it at this point and my in-laws are desperate for one of their children to have a baby (my sister-in-law and her husband are a few years older and have been married longer). There have been far fewer random comments from people/extended family than there were about when we were going to get married. Perhaps this is a sensitivity instead of an assumption about our student status? For all anyone who is not immediate family or a very close friend knows, we could be really struggling to conceive and be going through a very difficult time that I might not want to discuss with them.

    1. Emily says:

      I think if we really wanted to have a child now we would find a way to do it an my ideal of waiting 5 years would be forgotten/softened. Like I said at the end of the post, I hope I eventually get that baby-crazy feeling, but it hasn’t arrived yet.

      I guess what your parents want shouldn’t count for much, but it sucks to have them pulling you different ways. Our parents have thankfully been silent on the matter (as they were prior to our engagement).

      You are probably right about the higher awareness of infertility and wanting to be sensitive to those who are quietly trying but not yet successful. In a lesser way, though, I was struggling with not-yet-being-engaged (which was out of my control), and everyone’s comments made things a lot worse. I guess we’ll see when we graduate if the restraint has been because of the student thing or the sensitivity thing!

  4. We’re waiting to try to make babies for a while, and it’s mostly career based. Trying to throw a kid into the mix while Mrs. Done by Forty is trying to get her PhD seems foolish, to me.

    As for the pastor’s message, I think he’s way off base. Sure, the message of following God’s plan is one that can’t be argued. But there’s no single path that every man is supposed to follow in this regard. And do I have to state the obvious fact that Jesus, the guy who we’re supposed to model our lives over, didn’t marry or have children?
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    1. Emily says:

      Do you think it’s foolish because of the workload, the pay, or the travel?

      I think my pastor’s argument was that married couples who can have children should have one or more. Like, if you’ve already gone the route of getting married, you should experience the blessing of children. Not so much that you have to, but that you’re missing out if you choose not to. But honestly, it wasn’t even an average-quality sermon for him, so it’s better to stick with what Scripture says!

  5. We are waiting on kids for another 3+ years, at least because we are not ready emotionally, financially, or geographically. I’ve heard it said that there is never the perfect time to have kids, but there are certainly better and worse times. But once you get to a certain baseline in relational/financial security, I also think there’s no point in putting off kids if you are really certain you want kids.
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    1. Emily says:

      Yeah, the living apart thing is a pretty good reason not to start having kids! And that did play into it for us when we thought we would be for about a year.

      Kyle and I are certain we want kids but I think there’s value in delaying to give our marriage time to develop.

  6. I’ve seen many friends successfully have children during grad school, but it’s always been male students with female partners outside of grad school/academia. That being said, I know a few women that did had a child during thesis writing and looking for postdocs etc. All I know is it wasn’t for me.

    Here’s what I know: I didn’t go the postdoc route, and I want to have a bit of a career before I have children. Since I’m fresh to the job market, I told myself I would give myself three years of experience before we start trying. That will put me at 30 – 31 (32) assuming everything goes relatively smoothly. With awesome mat. leave here (90% for a full year) and then only being roughly two years into a five year contract (signed next month?), I will still have time after a good break to re-establish myself before my contract is back up.

    That being said, two years from now will be a much better financial situation should everything go reasonably according to plan. And I could manage with a child now if it happened, but I’d like to have my financial house in better order than it currently is.
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    1. Emily says:

      It’s interesting how different workplace policies might affect family planning. The US is so different from other countries – I bet there are studies on this. I’m definitely keeping the FMLA in mind – to get 3 months (not necessarily paid) maternity leave and legally have to get my job back (with qualifying employers), I have to work there for that employer for at least 12 months in advance. That’s awesome that you have a 5-year contract to take into consideration!

      1. Sarah says:

        I definitely think that maternity leave (or lack thereof) is a big factor in Americans’ decision to have kids or wait.

        I work for a very small company that is exempt from FMLA. Therefore, if we ever do decide to have kids, my only options will be to take a maximum of 4 weeks leave… or quit. I’m almost certain it’ll end up being the latter.

        1. Emily says:

          That really sucks that your workplace is exempt. Would you consider trying to negotiate? Just because they don’t have to follow FLMA doesn’t meant they can’t give you a better deal, right?

          1. Sarah says:

            It might be possible to negotiate; I’m just going by what was written in their “employee handbook.” I suppose we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.
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  7. Tarynkay says:

    We have a number of friends who are in grad school and have babies and young children, so I would not assume that student status would impede a couple from having children. I do only know one mother in grad school, mostly it is the fathers who are pursuing PhDs or whatever while the mothers are staying home. So people might make different assumptions since you are both in school, but I wouldn’t.

    I haven’t personally talked to anyone who is putting off having children for financial reasons. All of the married couples we know who are waiting to have kids are waiting for relational reasons. This is just friends who have specifically brought it up with me, because I would never ask anyone.

    My husband and I were married for ten years before having a child. Then we adopted our son. We really intended to have children much sooner, things just didn’t work out that way for us. We were married at the age of 22, so we were not dealing with age related issues. Even though this wasn’t our plan, things worked out in the best way possible and we feel like we won the lottery with our son.

    Many many people asked us why we didn’t have kids, and this got really old really quickly. So when I meet couples without children, I never ask why. I just assume that they will tell me if I need to know.

    1. Emily says:

      How do you have one parent pursuing a PhD and one staying at home?! That must be in a very low cost-of-living area!

      I totally agree with your policy of never asking about upcoming life stages – after my experience before our engagement, I only talk about it if the other person brings it up. I’m glad that you are so happy with your family now but sorry you had to put up with those questions for so long. Were you open with any family/friends about why things weren’t working out or did you keep it close to the vest until you were adopting?

      1. Tarynkay says:

        We live in Durham as well, actually. I don’t think it’s easy financially for our friends in grad school with young families, but they make it work somehow. I know that at least some of them are on WIC and Medicaid. The sad part is that when they graduate, they usually leave town for their fancy high paying jobs. I mean, the fancy high paying jobs aren’t the sad part, the leaving town is.

        We didn’t tell anyone for a very long time, then we told only a few close friends and close family after we actually started the adoption process. I think most people assumed that we were selfishly delaying having children. So it was a big surprise for most people.

        1. Emily says:

          Wow, Durham? That is incredible! A single grad student stipend is, like, 30-50% below the living wage for two parents and a child. I have so many questions about how they make that work (and why??)!

          It is hard living somewhere that has such a high turnover rate. Many of our friends have moved away (not just the grad students) – and soon enough we will too. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the length of time it takes to build deep friendships and wondering when in our life we will be able to do that again.

  8. THANK YOU for this. I don’t think putting having kids off for a few years is selfish in the least. If anything, you’re making yourselves more financially ready for when the time comes, like saving for your retirement early so you won’t be a burden for your kids.

    I have a friend that had barely been married two years and they already got pregnant (she’s my age, 28). I was kind of surprised as they still don’t have a great financial footing but the friend does have a best friend who already had a kid so I do think that was part of their reasoning. They’ll be great parents but part of me worries for them due to their less-than-stellar-financials.

    Perhaps I’m really biased because my mother had my sister at 23 and struggled as a single parent and then remarried and had my brother and I when she was 31 and 35 and I think she was so much better prepared for being a mom in her 30s. She has a good relationship with my sister, but I think she also was more mature and ready to be a mom the 2nd time around in her 30s. So I do believe in waiting a bit so that I am emotionally ready and in a place in my career where I want to be.

    Lastly, when couples get married and have children right away, children can become a center part of that marriage. I want to ensure that my husband and I’s marriage is solid on it’s own before we add kids to the mix.
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    1. Emily says:

      I read an article recently about how there is a marriage gap developing in American society. The idea that you have to have it all together, particularly financially, before you get married has resulted in a trend of the poor never getting married (though still having children) while the middle and upper classes do get married. Some of us are never going to have everything together, but I don’t think that means we shouldn’t get married or have children.

      You are so right that our close friends and family affect us – like your friend with her friend, your mom with you, and my parents/in-laws with me. I guess the best we can do is to be aware of those biases. Like, I have to recognize that just because our parents both waited 5+ years and are still married doesn’t necessarily mean that waiting will protect us from divorce.

      I share your position about wanting our marriage to have its own life so that there is something to sustain through and return to after child-rearing. It’s interesting to hear this vague urge from my pastor to not wait too long to start having kids, because much of the Christian teaching on marriage I have absorbed since we got engaged emphasizes that your marriage should be a higher priority than your children (because the best thing you can do for your children is to have a strong, secure, healthy marriage). It’s therefore consistent, to me, that not having children immediately would be beneficial to the marriage and children later on. But maybe the quibbling is over what ‘not immediately’ means?

  9. SarahN says:

    I find this topic incredibly interesting. I don’t have kids, and I’m about 14 months into a relationship. WE live together, but there’s no engagement on the cards, and to be honest, I’m happy that we’re not yet engaged (ie if it had happened over the holidays I would have been uncertain if I was ready).

    That being said, I’m 28, and my BF knows that I would like to be married and have kids. He’s also 2 years younger. He wants to wait, a lot, cause he wants to have a short but profitable career. I see my career as a longer haul, and I am already 5 years in, earn more than I could have imagined as a student, own a property, and feel secure in my career and my financials. However, I understand my partner isn’t yet there, so that’s ok. If nothing else, we need to be a stronger partnership first too.

    What I find puzzling is friends I know who have been together for 10 years who are neither engaged, nor married, nor having kids. To me, I feel like given they have the financial means, and the living arrangement stability (ie own property, so in some regards have a solid base if not the raise the kids, to ‘invest’ some of their money). Their relationship is very strong too. Despite knowing them well, I don’t know why they haven’t made the next steps.

    And to attach to that above point – re my friends, and re my impatience to have kids on some level – fertility. I am worried if I wait too long for the BF to be ready, I might struggle to have children naturally. And I wonder if others worry about that, or think they’ll be OK.

    As to pressure from others, there isn’t really any. My mother was married at 24, and waited 6 years for her first kid. I think the same is more or less true of my BF’s family (re age they started having children), so neither family expects babies soon, as much as they’d like them, and neither thinks wedding bells shall toll in the next year. It’s nice to have that pressure off. Otherwise, only one friend has mentioned the ‘would he propose on the holidays’ idea, and I told them that was highly unlikely.
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    1. Emily says:

      Negotiating the timeline of a relationship is tricky, and the added pressure/reality of fertility makes it even harder. I’m happy that I didn’t have to consider timelines for kids when Kyle and I were dating, only once we were preparing to get married, but now that we’re older it’s at least peeking into everyone’s minds, married or not.

      I guess if you’re still puzzled by your friends that means you haven’t asked, and I suppose you shouldn’t. Maybe they will bring their reasoning up with you. Or maybe they are not in agreement or they have other constraints you don’t know about. Ugh, you’re making me think that we should be more open with people in our life about our decisions (I guess this post is a start!). :/

  10. I don’t think I could handle being in a religion that looked at the choice to not procreate as selfish.

    But then I’m also highly suspicious of churches that focus on tithing (specifically to the church, not just generally doing Good Works) as well. It seems more like they’re trying to empire-build than they are to carry out Jesus’s work. We have a lot of mega-churches in our area that are spending a lot of that tithing money on things that are definitely not true charity.
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    1. Emily says:

      Well, selfish was my word summarizing what I heard in this one section of one sermon, so you definitely shouldn’t equate that with The Christian View. 🙂 I think it’s much more fair to look at Psalm 127:3 and Genesis 1:28, quoted above. Having digested the sermon from last week further, I think the message is is more like “Why would you want to delay the blessing of children?” And I’ve given my answer in this post, from my thinking to this point.

      Sorry if I’m splitting hairs in your language in this next part if my interpretation isn’t what you intended. I don’t have experiences with a lot of churches, but I think it’s fairly unusual for any to “focus” on tithing (one exception). In my observation, pastors are very hesitant to teach on generosity because it seems so self-serving, exactly as you said. I think it’s valid to teach about money and generosity because it was so frequently covered by Jesus (second most common topic) – way, way more often than the 2-4% of messages I hear on generosity in my church, for instance. Churches (should) focus on the Gospel. The only type of churches that would “focus” on tithing/giving that I can think of would be ones that preach the prosperity gospel, which is not in line with mainstream Christian theology. Perhaps that is what you have seen?

      I absolutely agree that whenever you give significant money, you should have confidence that the money is being used well. But tithes are not given for “true charity” i.e. humanitarian work if we’re thinking of it in the same way. They’re given to support the work of the church, chiefly to pay staff salaries (Numbers 18:20-21). I’ve seen in our church’s budget that’s where most of the money goes. And I’m perfectly OK with that because I believe in the efficacy of my church. I don’t have any idea if the churches you’re referring to are being good stewards with the money they are given, but I hope the parishioners are providing/will provide accountability and oversight.

  11. I couldn’t imagine having a child while in college. The time, commitment and limited resources would be challenging. I’ve been married for a year and a half and we’re ready for children, but we’re both established in our careers.
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    1. Emily says:

      I couldn’t have handled being a parent while in college, either. Thankfully we’re treating out PhD programs as more like a job.

  12. Sarah says:

    My husband and I have definitely had the discussion, but the timing has never been good. I know that’s what every child-free couple says, but honestly, between the mountain of debt my husband brought into our marriage (~$75K) and the difficulties we’ve both had in finding stable employment… it just doesn’t seem realistic to bring a child into the picture at this point.

    That said, I do know several people who had children right out of high school or college and seem to be doing okay. I honestly don’t know how they make it work.
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    1. Emily says:

      I guess it’s the kind of thing you can’t plan for or understand until you’re in it!

      Is there a point in your financial situation in terms of debt or savings at which you would consider getting pregnant, even if you employment didn’t improve?

  13. Like you, my wife and I waited until at least she had completed her Master’s before having a kid. We were both working full time and going to grad school in the evenings. Piling a baby into our already busy lives would not have been the smartest thing to do.
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    1. Emily says:

      Time constraints make sense, too, especially with a temporary commitment like grad school.

  14. E 2 says:

    I think when you’re ready, you’re ready, and maybe your pastor could be a little more generous about “selfishness” – people and relationships just need to develop organically in their own time. When we first got married (2 years ago as of next week!), I’d heard a lot of other women who’d had kids in the writing stage of their PhDs say that was a great, relatively flexible, professionally low-consequence time to do it, and my husband and I were like, “that’s so soon! no WAY will we be ready for kids, we need to spend some time just being married to each other!” But surprisingly, our minds have changed. I hope it does happen before we’ve been married for five years, because even if that’s statistically better, it just seems like the natural next step and I’m excited to take it. (And boy, I’m glad your blog allows anonymous comments! 😉

    Waiting for financial stability makes sense if you’re just out of high school/college, because it’s nice to not have to live with your parents and to grow up enough to really commit, but not if you’re talking post-grad school, or defining stability as “having tenure” or “buying a house” or some high bar like that. First, in academia there are too many variables to say exactly when you might hit stability – # of postdocs? two-body problem? etc. Second, if you know you want kids, they’re portable! Why do you need a house or tenure? Our parents’ generation struggled a lot financially when we were kids, and I think sometimes people forget that it is often part of the young family stage of life, and it’s OK.

    1. Emily says:

      That’s interesting that your thinking on the timing of kids could change within just two years. “When you’re ready, you’re ready” sounds a lot to me like “sometimes you just know,” which I heard repeatedly while we were dating. I never thought we would “know” like that but eventually we did, so maybe it will be the same with the children thing.

      I agree that the standards we set for ourselves are sometimes too high. I really doubt we’ll have a house by the time we want to get pregnant, for instance.

      1. E 2 says:

        Maybe it is like that! Seeing some of our close friends start to have kids makes it much less of an unknown, and easier and more exciting to imagine in our own lives, so that’s really affected our perspectives a lot. And I can’t help being a very open person, but I definitely recommend talking about this stuff with friends, family, and if/when appropriate, people in your field, because it really helps to hear about other people’s experiences and advice about timing well before you’re planning it yourself.

        1. Emily says:

          That would probably have an effect on us, too. None of our close local friends or our close-in-age relatives have had kids. Well, we had some close local friends who now have kids, but we stopped spending as much time with them before they got pregnant, unfortunately.

  15. dojo says:

    I HATE IT when others come in between a couple and try to convince/force them to have babies. Yes, the Church included.

    Have children when YOU WANT THEM, not because x and y say you should. We’ve been together for 11 years and only after a decade of living together we decided that now it’s the time.

    Don’t rush into anything, don’t let others ‘convince’ you. It’s a very personal and important choice, it should come from the 2 of you 🙂
    dojo recently posted..Increase blog traffic by commenting on other blogs – the effective way

    1. Emily says:

      I think there is value in listening to others’ wisdom. I wish it had been better articulated than this particular sermon. It’s difficult in this area because, as you said, it’s a very personal decision and not something I often talk openly about.

      1. One person’s “wisdom” is another person’s patriarchical pressure.

        It is ok to NOT HAVE CHILDREN. There’s nothing selfish or morally wrong with choosing not to reproduce. Anyone who says differently has an agenda.
        nicoleandmaggie recently posted..Last link love before classes start

  16. Meg says:

    I hope to have children someday myself and I come from a large family of 6 kids. But realistically they aren’t the same blessing now that they were 2000 years ago. After a couple years of life children were an awesome asset to the majority of people living in a pasture or agricultural society. However, most people in our wealthy nation would not look kindly if I sent my Tweens out to keep watch on the flock by night from lions, wolves and bandits.

    Plus I can understand how a quiver of children would be seen as an amazing blessing. Many children did not live to adulthood and a quiver of children was not only a sign of many workers who work for room and board and inheritance but also a sign of Gods blessing of health. Nowadays there is a huge likelihood of all the children I can possibly produce living to adulthood (which is now considered at an age many years later then it was in biblical times) even if it sucks us into debt from the health costs if keeping a child alive that wouldn’t have stood a chance even a couple decades ago.

    It’s obvious why children were seen as a blessing so long ago (they contribute to your net worth, they work for free, they continue your life’s work, they produce there own free labor!)

    Now we see them as blessings for emotional reasons including contributing to life satisfaction.
    Really, they are a luxury in our country and do NOT contribute to net worth or even success. So I don’t think it is wrong to have either the choice or discipline to say “no” to this life altering hobby.

    1. Emily says:

      Definitely the significance of children has changed from Biblical times to now. But I still see children as an investment in the future and a representation of hope. There are other ways to accomplish that, for instance by adoption/fostering or mentorship, so it’s not just a biological option.

  17. […] presents Money and the Timing of Children posted at Evolving Personal Finance. We are waiting to have our first child, but not because of our […]

  18. eemusings says:

    Finances are ABSOLUTELY vital to me. I’ve seen how kids in T’s family are raised by welfare parents. My parents were frugal (ridiculously so when I was younger) but I am so glad we never had to struggle. I think one of the worst things a person can do is have children s/he can’t actually afford to raise.
    eemusings recently posted..RTW budget: A six-month trip recap

    1. Emily says:

      How would you determine a sufficient level of income?

  19. […] Money and the Timing of Children was featured in the Festival of Frugality #414. […]

  20. Alice says:

    When we got married, we also wanted 4-5 years of being a two-person family before adding kids into the mix. I had originally hoped to be able to have a baby around when I was writing up my dissertation for the flexibility aspect of grad school, but things didn’t turn out that way since we became a bicoastal couple there at the end of grad school! Baby is due right around our 5th anniversary though, so the time as a two person family did work out just right 🙂

    My pop pop told me once that if people waited until they thought they could afford kids to have kids that no one would ever have any, and I see what he means! We are in a much better financial place than we were when I was in grad school, and I know there are tons of families that raise children on less than our combined incomes, but I’m still nervous about it.

    I read in some of your comments about working for a year before having a baby, which ended up to not be the case for us, so I will not have paid short term leave while out on maternity leave. However, we lived off of only Keegan’s income for the first 3 months I was here, so we are continuing to do that now and saving 100% of my income. We know that we will have those months of being a one income household again, and we know very far in advance, so that helps considerably with budgeting. We anticipate that most of what we save from my income will go towards paying for whatever portion of my health expenses are not covered by insurance, making the initial investment in our nursery essentials (crib, changing table, etc. which we hope to use for at least 3 kids so we’ll get something high quality that will survive through all those kids!), and will probably go towards childcare when I first return to work and am earning my first few paychecks back. Whatever is left over will go in long term savings for various things (house, emergency fund, etc.).

    1. Emily says:

      Why do you think you are still nervous about your finances? It’s amazing that you are living on Keegan’s income – that seems to be the best way to prepare for some unpaid leave and to set yourselves up to fund those big expenditures, as you said. It sounds like you’re in a very strong position!

      1. Alice says:

        Maybe it’s just pregnancy jitters :-p I’m sure we’ll be fine, but my position with Medtronic right now is also a contract one; there is no end date to the contract, but I guess I’m worried about being able to go back in the fall (even though I’ve been told that it’s fine!). Uncertainty and all that…

  21. […] The only really out of the ordinary thing that happened this week was that Kyle and I babysat for our friends’ kids one evening this week while they went on a date.  Their kids are three and a few months and were super easy, so it was quite fun.  I got lots of baby cuddles and Kyle got lots of playtime with the older child.  I think that taking care of cute, well-behaved, fun children is supposed to make biological clock tick or something, but no dice so far. […]

  22. Ginger says:

    I had my daughter in second year of my Master’s and have now moved on to my PhD and my husband has been in the PhD program that entire time. It did delay me in regards to graduation and I did have to move labs for my PhD. I required living somewhere check (buffalo, NY), having a roommmate, being extremely cheap and being willing to take some risks. It is hard but I am happy we had her.
    Ginger recently posted..Always Check! My shock with my credit union

    1. Emily says:

      That is an amazing story! I would love to hear more about how you managed having a child on two stipends. I’ve written about the married-with-roommates approach here before but haven’t experienced it. Would you be interested in writing a guest post for me on how you made all that work while in grad school?

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