When Family Planning and Financial Planning Clash

Alicia and Craig Relford had a carefully thought-out family plan.

The Zionsville couple would wait four years between pregnancies. This way, they would never have to try to put two children through college at the same time.Advertisement

Last year, their daughter, Sydney, turned 4. But that family plan is on hold — a casualty of an economy in tatters.

The Relfords are one of many couples making the same pragmatic yet heart-wrenching decision to postpone starting or adding to their families.

The above story is just one told by the IndyStar in an article titled “A pregnant pause; Poor economy puts plans to have children on hold.” Demographers say fertility rates correspond with the ups and downs of the economy, for example during the Great Depression the nation’s fertility rate fell to a then-record low 2.1 children in 1936. A decade later, the fertility rate hit 2.9 (baby boom!) thanks to the end of the Depression and World War II.

The current fertility rate is once again 2.1, but demographers suspect it will fall if the financial situation worsens. Carl Haub, a demographer with the Population Reference Bureau in Washington, D.C. says, “It depends on how protracted the current crisis is and how deep it goes.” He adds, “And sometimes delayed births are births that never happen.”

Alicia Relford, for example, was an only child, and would love for her daughter to have a younger sister. But now she says she doesn’t know whether a second child will ever become a reality for her and her husband. “We would rather have our wonderful one child and be somewhat secure and comfortable,” she said, “rather than put a strain on everything.”

If you ask me, that’s a real shame. I think some people have got their priorities wrong. Sure, you need money to survive, and it’s nice to be comfortable and not worry about paying for diapers, daycare, ballet class, braces, college… but isn’t it much nicer to have the family you’ve always dreamed of? Isn’t one more child that you will love more than life itself worth a little bit of sacrifice? Being a parent is about giving, and yes, it is about sacrifice. But the results are well worth it.

I have two beautiful children so far, and hope to have more. We live on a tight budget with no room for “extras” that others might take for granted. But I would never think of limiting the number of children in my family becuase of financial calculations. If you can pledge to love your children with all your heart, show them how to live responsibly and within your means, there will be enough money to manage a happy home where they will thrive. Money doesn’t buy happiness. I really believe it.

Don’t you?

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