I’m square in the middle of that phase in life when everyone’s talking about weddings and babies. I love it when my friends create new lives, and I love when they celebrate their love for their children through birthday parties and other events.
However, I’m neither married nor a mother. I have no plans for either marriage or children. While I’m open to the idea of marrying someday, children are a definite no-go for me.
Unfortunately, that’s still quite a controversial statement for a young woman to make. People ask me if it’s because I hate children (which is insulting). Or maybe it’s because I’m selfish (how is it selfish?). Or perhaps I’ll change my mind when I’m a little older (which implies that I don’t know myself already).
Why I Don't Want to Have Children
It’s not because I hate them. Rather, it’s because I’ve never deeply wanted them, and I firmly believe that each child should be wanted.
We shouldn’t become parents out of a sense of duty or because we feel that we should uphold traditions.
I won’t change my mind. I’ve never felt drawn to the idea of having children. The fact that I don’t have a strong maternal drive doesn’t make me less of a woman. Nor does it make me a bad person. It simply makes me someone who doesn’t want children.
It’s not because I’m selfish. If anything, it’s because I’m all too aware of how little I have in time and resources to give a child. I’m a freelancer who rents an apartment, who still has a part-time side hustle that dominates my weekends, and who is trying to build a business.
The Cost of Bringing Up a Child
Even ignoring the costs of college, the costs of bringing up a child can be up to $284,570, according to Investopedia, with a breakdown of over $17,000 for the expenses of having a baby per year.
You can use online calculators on sites like BabyCenter to estimate how much it will cost to raise a child. Select your region, enter your income, the age of your child, and whether or not you intend to pay for your child’s college.
BabyCenter’s calculator even breaks down the costs into a pie chart so that you can see where you’ll spend the most money. The chart shows estimates of food, housing, health care, transportation, and more.
I plugged in my information: I make less than $60,000 per year, live in the southeastern part of the United States, and would care for the child as a single parent. The calculator estimated that I would spend $172,200 to raise one child. That was a mind-boggling number for me. It confirmed that a child would waylay my financial future.
Child Expenses Would be a Financial Disaster
Let’s talk a little about the financial realities of being a freelancer. I make enough money to pay my bills and tuck a little away into savings each month. I’m not broke.
However, I have to pay my own taxes, save for my own retirement, and pay for my own health care. I love what I do — I want to do it for a long time. The cost of bringing up a child would throw all of that off balance.
I started investing three years ago. While I’m proud of what I’ve tucked away, it’s not enough to live on now or in the future, even with years of compound interest. Investing needs to be a priority for me so that I can grow my finances and improve my financial stability.
I also currently live in a two-bedroom apartment. My second bedroom serves as my office. I could outfit it as a baby’s room, but that would take time and money — both of which are in high demand in my household.
Seeing as I’m still focused on building financial security, I can’t even begin to imagine how I would afford the expenses of having a baby.
Issues Prospective Parents Can Face
“Children can most definitely impact parents’ careers and finances,” says founder and CEO of Baby Schooling, Olga Zakharchuk. “Many people would like to stay home with their new baby as long as they possibly can before returning from maternity or paternity leave — that often means giving up money.”
“It’s important for prospective parents to keep that in mind, as most companies in the United States do not provide full pay during maternity or paternity leave,” Zakharchuk adds.
But maternity leave is not the only issue that might affect prospective parents at the moment.
“Complicating the issue is the current pandemic, and that many schools and daycares are closed,” adds Zakharchuk.
“Parents need someone to watch their kids, and so those without any childcare options have no choice but to stay home with their little ones,” she says. “They can only work remote jobs, and while there are excellent remote job opportunities out there, they aren’t always that easy to find. To top it off, those positions also attract a high number of applicants.”
I am not in a position to leave my job at the moment. I would need to save for my retirement, a down payment on a house, and the expenses of having a baby while also paying my monthly bills on time.
The truth of the matter is, the cost of bringing up a child would derail my financial life. I’d have to go into debt in order to afford a kid. And I certainly wouldn’t be able to create any savings for her. No college savings, no bonds, no investments in her name. We’d live paycheck-to-paycheck for her entire life.
The Bottom Line
Combining the expenses of having a baby with the fact that I don’t feel “called” to be a mother, I can see myself staying child-free for the rest of my life.
Don’t get me wrong — I want nothing more than for all those other cool, smart people I know to have kids if they want to. I believe children are a blessing. I just also believe that they’re one blessing that isn’t meant for me.