Convince me that I should have children.

How to explain ERE, arranging family matters
7Wannabe5
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Re: Convince me that I should have children.

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Mon Mar 24, 2014 7:48 am

The most stoic-frugal (mostly I shoot for clever-frugal with mixed success) thing I ever did involved childbirth. The insurance I had when I became pregnant with my D22 would give me 100% coverage for childbirth if I used an inexpensive practitioner group and I left the hospital within 24 hours. The only two choices I had for inexpensive practitioner groups were an inexperienced intern group I didn't trust and the no-painkillers-offered nurse-midwife group I had used for the birth of my S25 which lasted 36 hours and was extremely painful (for those who have not experienced, imagine having a billiard ball very slowly pushed through the meat of your over-developed flexed bicep muscle but 10x worse.) So, I signed up for 10 more hours of that in order to save the 20% co-pay. Of course, I regretted it by a couple hours in and requested relief but was told "No. You are doing great!!!" IOW, nurse-midwife = personal trainer from hell.

Anyways, back to initial topic, I think the main reason why having/raising children is expensive is that you don't do it enough times to figure out how to do it cheaply. Therefore, it is only in retrospect that I can offer advice such as "Don't send them to school or, at least, do not make any decisions based on sending them to school." Very few things will avalanche a whole truck load of middle class expenses on you more than concerning yourself with a "good school district." Prior to the entry point into our consumerist society which is kindergarten, the expenses for raising children, if one or another or both parents or extended family/friends can be with child are very, very minimal. Maybe $1 a day for food, half a dozen pairs of rubber pants/year, one emergency visit for ear infection/year, $100 at the thrift store for supplies such as stroller-that-will-collapse-so-you-can-go-on-city-bus-with-baby-and-toddler (if you don't get everything you need from affluent relatives.) We lived in a maybe 600 square ft apartment with no car and no TV when my kids were little. I made maybe a few thousand a year doing this or that part-time and my first husband maybe made $16,000 a year working as a clerk at a bookstore and we actually managed to save quite a bit of money during that period. Our subsequent purchase of the cheapest house per square ft. in a decent school district within commuting distance (huge mistake) put an end to that-lol.

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C40
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Re: Convince me that I should have children.

Post by C40 » Sat Aug 09, 2014 5:23 pm

I was watching a Season of TED Talks called "Sex, Secrets & Love", and this episode was on:

Rufus Griscom & Alisa Volkman: Let's Talk Parenting Taboos. The publishers of Babble.com expose four facts that parents never, ever admit - and why they should.

I'm not sure whether these two might now regret having children, or if since they are talking about these taboo subjects they just seem so different from common portrayal of having children from parents.

You folks may know I like charts, and I found these charts from their presentation interesting:

Of course, this chart appears to be an average, and not applicable to individuals:
Image

I wonder if there is control data from those studies of people who do not have any children - what happens for them?

This was their own personal rendition of the chart - I don't know whether they are confirming the happiness line or if they only added in the yellow line to illustrate their point:
Image

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jennypenny
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Re: Convince me that I should have children.

Post by jennypenny » Sun Aug 10, 2014 2:59 pm

I wonder if there is control data from those studies of people who do not have any children - what happens for them?
That's what I wondered. Some of the unhappier times seem to correspond to the normal time for a mid-life crisis. It also seems to correspond to when people have the biggest and smallest financial burdens.

And I wonder if empty nesters are happiest because they fulfilled a goal of theirs to successfully raise children, and not because the children have moved out.

Raising infants and toddlers is definitely hard, though. I also suspect that many people have kids for the wrong reason and realizing that contributes to the early dissatisfaction.

henrik
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Re: Convince me that I should have children.

Post by henrik » Sun Aug 10, 2014 11:59 pm

jennypenny wrote:That's what I wondered. Some of the unhappier times seem to correspond to the normal time for a mid-life crisis. It also seems to correspond to when people have the biggest and smallest financial burdens.
The answer, it turns out, is no: control for cash, employment status and children, and the U-bend is still there. So the growing happiness that follows middle-aged misery must be the result not of external circumstances but of internal changes.
http://www.economist.com/node/17722567

7Wannabe5
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Re: Convince me that I should have children.

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Mon Aug 11, 2014 6:05 am

Right. It's hormonal. People are most miserable/crazy when their reproductive organs are cranking up during puberty and when they are starting to shut down at midlife.

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GandK
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Re: Convince me that I should have children.

Post by GandK » Mon Aug 11, 2014 6:37 am

Agreed. The study found that people are most stressed out and angriest in adolescence and their 20s (when testosterone peaks), and generally unhappiest in their 40s and early 50s (during menopause and its male equivalent).

As a 40-year-old I took away that I should do my best every day to create some amazing circumstances, because absent some joy-producing external factors, this is likely to be my life's most miserable decade. :-)

LarryW
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Re: Convince me that I should have children.

Post by LarryW » Mon Aug 11, 2014 11:25 am

I have to wonder how much historic factors, rather than biology, have to do with the age variation of happiness you see in these studies. Today's elderly, at least in the US, came of age in a time of unprecedented prosperity and enormous opportunity. By contrast, today's middle-aged generation generally had fewer opportunities and more setbacks than their elders, which would explain why people who are in their 60s through 80s today are happier than those in their 30s through 50s. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if thirty years from now researchers "discovered" that old people were in fact generally miserable.
Last edited by LarryW on Mon Aug 11, 2014 11:55 am, edited 1 time in total.

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C40
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Re: Convince me that I should have children.

Post by C40 » Mon Aug 11, 2014 11:30 am

Maybe the mid life dip also has to do with something unrelated to children: at that point, most have spent almost 20 years in school, and then 20 years working. They're looking at another 20 years of working. They feel their bodies/health declining. The consumption treadmill is not paying off all their hard work. They and realizing that there isn't much to look forward to after their remaining 20 years more work.

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Dragline
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Re: Convince me that I should have children.

Post by Dragline » Mon Aug 11, 2014 4:49 pm

Yes, there are studies that show that average life happiness reaches a nadir at about 40 and improves from there. I'm not aware of anyone who has ever bothered to distinguish those will children and those without, which is what you would have to do.

On the other hand, grandchildren almost always give a happiness boost, except perhaps where you are raising them as your own.

henrik
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Re: Convince me that I should have children.

Post by henrik » Tue Aug 12, 2014 12:17 am

Dragline wrote:Yes, there are studies that show that average life happiness reaches a nadir at about 40 and improves from there. I'm not aware of anyone who has ever bothered to distinguish those will children and those without, which is what you would have to do.
@Dragline -- see my quote and link above?

MrRich
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Re: Convince me that I should have children.

Post by MrRich » Mon Sep 08, 2014 1:22 am

Don't.

BeyondtheWrap
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Re: Convince me that I should have children.

Post by BeyondtheWrap » Sat Sep 13, 2014 9:50 am

Just saw this in MMM's blog:
Mr. Money Mustache wrote:As a person who tries to put things into a logical perspective, kids are a tricky one. After all, it may seem somewhat illogical to voluntarily create a new being, and make such a big sacrifice to your own life to support it. Especially since there is no shortage of need in the world – why not help others instead of creating still more need?

On the other hand, if your goal of living is to understand what being a Human is all about, reproduction is pretty logical. It is the reason for all life on the planet, and it really the sole purpose of your existence from an evolutionary perspective. It would be hard to say you’ve had the full experience of humanity without experiencing this core part of it. Every cell in your body exists just to allow this to happen. That still doesn’t mean that you should have kids, it’s just an explanation for why it could be considered logical at some level.
http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2014/09/ ... y-one-kid/

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Ego
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Re: Convince me that I should have children.

Post by Ego » Sat Sep 13, 2014 2:27 pm

Mr. Money Mustache wrote:On the other hand, if your goal of living is to understand what being a Human is all about, reproduction is pretty logical. It is the reason for all life on the planet, and it really the sole purpose of your existence from an evolutionary perspective. It would be hard to say you’ve had the full experience of humanity without experiencing this core part of it. Every cell in your body exists just to allow this to happen. That still doesn’t mean that you should have kids, it’s just an explanation for why it could be considered logical at some level.
Is that logical or biological? I think he might be confusing biological meaning with actual human meaning. This idea is made plain when you ask yourself if those with two kids are enjoying less humanity that those with ten. From a genetic perspective, the purpose of genes it to make more genes. From a biological perspective, the purpose of each cell is to make more cells. Fortunately, consciousness provides humanity a perspective that is so much more than mere genes or cells.

RealPerson
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Re: Convince me that I should have children.

Post by RealPerson » Sat Sep 13, 2014 4:16 pm

@Ego: Even at a logical/biological level. Procreation serves the purpose of perpetuating the species by ensuring that sufficient individuals survive to maintain the existance of the species. However, humanity has been so successful at this that you could argue a reduction in our numbers may very well benefit the survival of humanity. Procreation at the present numbers undermines the survival of our species. Less procreation, such as one child per couple, instead of 2 or 3, may well be the answer to help us survive by reducing the need for resources to a sustainable level.

I like your reference to consciousness, i.e. humans have the frontal lobe to create meaning for their life beyond simply ensuring that there will be a next generation. Human vs. animal behavior.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Convince me that I should have children.

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Sun Sep 14, 2014 5:01 am

I think MMM was talking about "purpose" not "meaning." There is no denying that kids give you purpose (diapers do not change themselves) but whether or not having/raising kids is in true or good alignment with any given individual human's purpose is another matter. I never even considered not having kids because when I am asked the question "What would your job be if you lived in the Old West?", I automatically answer "I would run the library and/or the boarding house" and the part of me that sees myself making dinner for 20 people around the boarding house table was going to have kids but the part of me that wanted to read in peace stopped after having two. Of course, individual purpose doesn't necessarily align with kids or career. It's more fundamental yet flexible than that.

OTOH, the fact is that as little as 50 years ago (no time in human history) people could not choose to marry or have sex without also choosing to have children so how can there even be any deep developed philosophy on the question of this thread beyond "Marry or burn?" This is a bit off topic but one thing I am curious about is why people who do not want to have and/or raise children together and do not believe in "true love" or "soul mates" etc. (I am assuming this is true of most rationals) choose to marry? I also wonder about why single people choose to buy houses? I mean, I get wanting to stay single, independent and carefree (especially since that is where I am again with adult children) but why take on the commitment of a permanent pair-bond and/or the trouble of constructing a nest if you aren't going to lay a vulnerable egg or two?

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Re: Convince me that I should have children.

Post by Spartan_Warrior » Sun Sep 14, 2014 6:26 am

7Wannabe5 wrote:I also wonder about why single people choose to buy houses? I mean, I get wanting to stay single, independent and carefree (especially since that is where I am again with adult children) but why take on the commitment of a permanent pair-bond and/or the trouble of constructing a nest if you aren't going to lay a vulnerable egg or two?
Good question. I bought a house as a single person specifically to support a future family. That was a mistake, and I now know that buying isn't necessarily preferable to renting for me, and moreover I should only ever rent/buy as much house as I need right now, not in an unrealized future. I do wonder if I would have bought at all if marriage and a kid or two wasn't part of my eventual plan.

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Re: Convince me that I should have children.

Post by Little_empty_attic » Sun Sep 14, 2014 3:50 pm

If you have siblings who have or are going to have kids, we've found it makes the decision not to have them easier. There was no family pressure on us since our younger siblings had the grandkids, we have the benefit of contact with the young but without ultimate responsibility, and we are everyone's backup guardians in case of accident. We've contributed to school tuition and weddings for all of the nieces and nephews, and they'll inherit a good chunk of change when we join the bleeding choir invisible.

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Re: Convince me that I should have children.

Post by steveo73 » Sun Sep 14, 2014 4:29 pm

Look I read this and it comes down to me to the fact that personally I think the 3 kids that I have make my life really freaken great. Its not easy but who gives a shit about easy. Easy doesn't equate to happiness.

As for that chart - what a load of crap with completely made up statistics. I have friends that are struggling with their lives and relationships and I think that makes a greater difference to your happiness than having kids. In stating that I think having kids might make you happier.

I'll add that anyone who thinks that kids stop them having a full life for themselves has it all wrong. You don't have to give up your life to have kids. You have to give up some resources but to me that is not a big problem.

Little_empty_attic
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Re: Convince me that I should have children.

Post by Little_empty_attic » Sun Sep 14, 2014 5:08 pm

steveo73 wrote:Its not easy but who gives a shit about easy. Easy doesn't equate to happiness.
Easier wrt the pressure family or society may put on one to have children, that's all.

andystkilda
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Re: Convince me that I should have children.

Post by andystkilda » Fri Feb 13, 2015 5:58 pm

I'd say the simple fact that in my opinion, very very few people regret having children in the long run. Does this fact alone not prove it is a good decision for most?

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Re: Convince me that I should have children.

Post by akratic » Fri Feb 13, 2015 7:00 pm

Consider three aspects of happiness: pleasure, flow, and meaning. Having children trades pleasure for meaning. This is a compelling trade because pleasure is a lot easier to find than meaning.

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Re: Convince me that I should have children.

Post by jacob » Fri Feb 13, 2015 7:41 pm

andystkilda wrote:I'd say the simple fact that in my opinion, very very few people regret having children in the long run. Does this fact alone not prove it is a good decision for most?
No it doesn't :-P

You need to consider all combinations:

1) People who had children and regretted it.
2) People who had children and didn't regret it.
3) People who didn't have children and regretted it.
4) People who didn't have children and didn't regret it.

One should hope that (2) and (4) outweigh (1) and (3) respectively. The question is whether it does? If it doesn't the next question is the cost of making a mistake e.g. regret vs 18+ years of unhappy parenting. All on a sliding scale of course. Other aspects may apply too.

black_son_of_gray
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Re: Convince me that I should have children.

Post by black_son_of_gray » Fri Feb 13, 2015 8:17 pm

Granted, it is coming from the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement (so you know what their stance is), but this chart has a pretty thorough list of the reasons people give for wanting to have children (along with some slapdash psychoanalysis):
http://www.vhemt.org/whybreed.pdf

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Re: Convince me that I should have children.

Post by ffj » Fri Feb 13, 2015 11:41 pm

It's always been my advice that if you are uncertain if you want children then just don't. Err on the side of caution. Once that genie is out of the bottle then there's no turning back.

Raising kids is a huge deal and if you aren't dedicated to finishing what you started everyone suffers, especially the person that had no say in the matter.

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Re: Convince me that I should have children.

Post by andystkilda » Sat Feb 14, 2015 3:18 pm

jacob wrote:
andystkilda wrote:I'd say the simple fact that in my opinion, very very few people regret having children in the long run. Does this fact alone not prove it is a good decision for most?
No it doesn't :-P

You need to consider all combinations:

1) People who had children and regretted it.
2) People who had children and didn't regret it.
3) People who didn't have children and regretted it.
4) People who didn't have children and didn't regret it.

One should hope that (2) and (4) outweigh (1) and (3) respectively. The question is whether it does? If it doesn't the next question is the cost of making a mistake e.g. regret vs 18+ years of unhappy parenting. All on a sliding scale of course. Other aspects may apply too.
I agree that you have to consider all of those categories, but doesn't category 2 have far more people in it, worldwide, than the others? - 80-90% of the world population. So by definition, if it is the largest category, it is the decision with the highest percentage chance of being the correct one, from a life-long perspective. No?

I agree that the likely cost to someone how may regret not having children would probably be less than someone who hates parenting but has no choice to continue on for 20 years!

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