I didn't intend to write this post, but early this morning I read "All We Need Is Love... or Not" by Black Girl In Maine. She spoke of how some folks think that all ya need is love to raise kids, so don't let that hold you back from having more, even if you're living on the economic edge of doom. I love her blog, and boy did she hit a nerve...
By all means read her article and show her some luv. With her permission, here are two excerpts:
"See, love does not feed a child, nor does it clothe a child. Love can not provide the enrichment activities that might nurture that child to be the next great. Sadly it's cold hard cash, dollars, duckets, deniro, shekels that provide these things. So while it would be lovely to have kids with no regards to your financial situation, is it really fair to the kids?
...while love is free, my reality is that kids are not, they do cost and while what they give can never be measured in dollars and cents, the fact is to not look at the costs associated is plain foolish. After all babies can be cheap but just feeding a teenaged boy can send you to the poor house even making everything from scratch..."
BGIM focused on the economics of child-rearing, so I'll expand it and hit another side for those fooled by mother nature's hormones or their own narcissism, that they might not have considered.
This is gonna get gritty, so enjoy.
Parenting is not only an 18 to 21 year commitment, it's a lifetime job. You'll be just as worried when he or she is sweating through a crisis (divorce, career probs, etc) at 40 as you were when he or she was 4.
All kinds of things can go wrong when you have a child, no matter how wealthy you are. The reason is simple: babies grow up to people.
I'll start off light. For example:
Approximately 1% of people develop schizophrenia, usually in their late teens or early 20s.
Up to 1% of children develop autism or one of the related disorders (except among groups like the Amish, who generally do not vaccinate their kids. Some autistic groups think the mercury in the shots cause this, and hint, hint, that's in the new swine flu shots too, but not the nasal spray. Since the pharmaceutical industry and press has been promoting this down our throats, contradictory stories that say they do vaccinate have been popping up to bury the others.)
Now with the more common problems. Approximately 16% of children have learning disabilities and/or ADHD. Keep in mind those are only the ones diagnosed.
Have you ever tried to help a kid with his homework with these issues? Try doing that four or five days a week after a long day at the office or your job, for years. It's like Chinese water torture - for both of you. It's embarrassing too, if he/she has to repeat one of the early grades - like kindergarten.
They also tend to be forgetful about real important shit like their house keys. No telling whose house they're in, and they ain't all that good at choosing their friends. If you say "no more keys", they just climb through the window they left unlocked, because they're ADHD and impulsive, remember?
And how about that category of kids known as Oppositional-Defiant?
These mothafuckas are in a class by themselves. Give 'em a time out in their room, and they play. In the quiet bathroom, and they bust up your wall tiles or screw up the plumbing. Tell 'em they're grounded, and they walk right past you and out the door. Take away all their possessions, and they say fuck you and don't care, and maybe bust a hole in the wall on the way out, which you'll have to pay for.
Crawl on your knees to Juvenile Services for help, and they tell you they can't do a damn thing unless he breaks the law, and the cops ain't doing no paperwork over a hole in the wall or even busted out window, especially if they didn't see it happen. They might take him to the mental hospital if the damage is substantial, but he suckers them too until he's so over-medicated that you don't recognize him.
Beat his ass, and run the risk of Child Protective Services coming after you. Take him to therapy, and watch your slick lil' nigga act like the sweetest kid in the world, only to cuss your ass out all the way home, every week, for 52 weeks out of the year.
Been there, through it, and it's a bitch. Screw the feminists on this one: some boys really need fathers. No guarantee, but it could save a single mother's mind. My son, now 21, still thinks all the shit he did was funny. I can't wait till he gets his own place. First thing I'm gonna do is bust a hole in his wall.
Your kid might become a high school dropout. Yes, even if he or she is white. One out of five of all Americans between 18 and 24 do not have a diploma or GED. In some 'urban areas', it's as high as 50%. Having a college degree and being an avid reader is no guarantee your kid will even finish high school. My son has a boatload of white friends, and hardly any of them have a diploma. Got black friends too, whose parents are educated and work hard, but their kid just couldn't cut the high school grind.
The reason? Most of them, like him, are ADHD. That shit was not prevalent in my parent's time, and you have to wonder why, but that's a topic for another post.
One-fourth of the population has a mental health disorder in any given year. While this sounds ominous, as therapist I can tell you that's bullshit. They're counting stress-related adjustment disorders, and mild anxiety or mild depression, aka the blues, along with the hard stuff, such as mood disorders. They said that 9.5 % of the population has this. Sounds high to me, but still.
If you have a 'normal' teenager, he or she will be moody enough without the diagnosis. Add a real mood disorder to this, then buckle up, because you're in for a hard ride no matter how much love you got.
And guess how many people have serious alcohol & drug problems? Those usually start in the teen years. Cleaning up your drunk-azzed 15 year old's vomit and going to court for his drug charges, then begging a judge to send him/her to rehab rather than locking him in juvie jail is a b*tch. It might be years before he or she is grateful, too, if ever, because you're interfering with his partying and social life, aka, denial.
If you're homophobic, I read somewhere 1 out of 6 males are gay and the stats for females are not has high. This mirrors what I've seen in real life. While most people think gays should not be discriminated against, I've met damned few parents who would want their children to turn out gay. The really loving ones come to accept it, but these parents worry even more about their sons contracting HIV, or for either sex, the possibility of no grandkids.
One of my girlfriends, a doctor, had one child, a son. He had ADHD, learning disabilities, turned out gay, was on the promiscuous side, dropped out of school, and because he couldn't make any real money, did some seriously illegal shit and almost ended up in jail - twice. She was losing her mind when he was a kid, then a teen, but really lost it when he became a young adult, along with her savings to pay for his lawyers. I haven't heard from her in years nor been able to find her. I think she's dead, and that parenting killed her.
Not counting temporary juvie lockups or weekend visits in county jail, over 10% of black males end up doing a long stretch in prison, for both legitimate and bogus reasons. Whether the punishment fit the crime or whether he/she was a casualty of racism and/or a shitty legal defense, there's a parent or two who feels pretty damned bad, especially if they did everything right raising their kids.
I'll put it like this. My daughter's music teacher told a group of us on Back To School Night to do our best, but in the end, our children are responsible for what they become. She said she had three children and she raised them all the same. Two turned out fine, but one went the other way. I don't know why she revealed this, but she looked really sad.
Let's talk about war. Your kid could enlist - or get drafted if that's reinstated. Every day and night you'll pray for their safety. Worse, he or she may return handicapped or in a coffin.
Or how about homicide? According to the Department of Justice, the rate for black males and females between 18 and 24 have dropped a lot since the '90s. As of 2005, for men, it was around 100 per 100,000 people in the population, and for women, around 11 per 100,00. In some areas, it's much higher.
Fear can cause all kinds of reactions, such as your child behaving as though he is fearless, carrying weapons, or being hypervigilant and seeing a diss where none exists. Young males tend to think they're immortal and invincible anyway.
This is useful when serving in the military, but can lead to dysfunction in the 'hood.
Heh-heh. No shit.
The Stork can be an unwelcome visitor. Your teenage daughter could get pregnant, or your son be torn apart from getting someone pregnant. Whatever the decision made about that pregnancy, the outcome is no picnic. If the outcome is abortion or putting it up for adoption, not only will he or she grieve, but you will too. If the outcome is a new baby, it might cost you in time (babysitting), money, and stress, because they probably won't have the maturity to handle early child-rearing well.
Speaking of adoption, when you give birth to a child, you have some idea of what kind of temperament and intelligence you might get based on your family history and how well you took care of yourself during pregnancy.
Adopting is real leap of faith. The primary two types of women who put their kids up for adoption are the substance abuser and the mentally ill. Then you get the impoverished woman stuck between a rock and a hard place, and she might be poor from circumstance, or because her IQ is about room temperature. Further down the list is the ideal teenage girl who is attractive and smart, but "just caught in a jam."
Any of these women - with the glaring exception of the ones who stayed drunk during their pregnancy - could give birth to a relatively problem-free child. Or not. The odds are a bit higher on the 'nots'.
My adopted son has ADHD and a non-specific mood disorder (which may actually be Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from early foster care). He will always struggle with substance abuse, whether he's in recovery or not. His birth mama and most of her family has those same issues. Two shitty foster homes before I got him - one was so bad the County closed it down - may have been the genesis of his issues, or at least compounded whatever genetic baggage he came with.
On the plus side, he came with some cool stuff too, like raw creative talent and a wicked sense of humor that has been his saving grace, along with "medical" marijuana. That shit really chills him out, and I pray for the day it gets legalized, because it keeps him from drinking or the hard drugs. And guess what? One of his cousins is a famous comedian that you've all heard of with the exact same issues, so even with the bad, came some good.
On the other hand, my adopted daughter's birth mother was a cocaine addict, but she has zero signs of interest in alcohol or drugs - so far - is a high achiever in school and has a sound temperament, just like her other birth family members. If you met her, you'd never guess.
When women put a child up for adoption, they don't always reveal the truth about their problems, and even when they do, adoption agencies will omit a lot of problems so they can get that kid out of the system.
This isn't all that different from having your own child. Does your spouse have a crazy sibling? Or a parent, uncle or aunt whose an alcoholic? Or cousins who couldn't sit still in class and never finished school?
Well, there ya go. Every baby you have will be the luck of dice.
Even if your kid doesn't turn out to be in some sort of dreaded statistical category, he or she could grow up and decide they not only don't like you, but have partial or full amnesia about all the sacrifices you made, and be totally ungrateful. Visit a nursing home and you'll see what I mean.
That's just the short list of possible problems even when money isn't a problem. After you add up all those percentages, if you still think that the turmoils of life won't touch those precious angels you're dying to give birth to, and that love will be cure for everything, then your lack of information, hormones, and/or narcissism has done a real mindf*ck game on your head.
When you consider all that can wrong - and how you'll be affected - good luck if you still want to have more than two. You'll need it, possibly more than love.