Think You Can’t Afford Kids?

by Cindy on May 3, 2012

Or maybe it’s your neighbor whose family size has you worried. There seems to be a lot of that going around these days. Just yesterday an older lady—the greeter at Walmart, actually—stopped me and asked me how “all these young mothers” thought they were going to pay for their kids. (I’d have borne the insult gracefully if I’d thought she meant I looked too young to know what I was getting into. Alas, she didn’t seem to be including me in her definition of “young mothers”.)

If it were just one lady whose age appeared not to have fostered wisdom, I probably wouldn’t bother blogging about it. But it’s not just her. Daily, I get internet searchers wondering why Christian families are having children they can’t afford, along with Christians who are wondering how they’re going to afford the blessings God is sending their way. Strangers on the street tell me that they don’t understand how I can afford my kids. My own grandmother wants me to stop having kids because they cost too much!

Brotherly Love

Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it.--Proverbs 15:17

What these questioners overlook is the fact that a) we’re talking about Christian families and b) children, Christian or not, don’t cost a dime.

Children are not consumer goods. Let’s take the second point first, since I know that’s the one that is really killing you. It’s simple enough: If you think you can’t afford your next child, would you mind telling me which store you plan to buy him from? Is there a discount for bulk purchases that I’ve been missing out on? And who is going to repossess him, should you need a few extra months to pay off the midwife? You think I’m kidding, don’t you? I’ll touch on this much more in a later post, but I am one hundred percent serious when I say that children don’t cost a dime.

Christianity is the key. Searchers who ask why Christian families think they can afford so many children answer their own question. I propose that the reason that they can afford the large family lifestyle is because they are Christians.

Stay with me for a moment. I am not saying that Christians are wealthier, smarter, or somehow less expensive to feed and clothe than non-Christians. We come from all walks of life, after all. However, the Bible does provide a great deal of financial wisdom for those who are empowered by the Holy Spirit to take advantage of it. The rest of the world kinda-sorta knows these things, as the large number of personal finance blogs indicates, but Christians often literally take their faith to the bank.

People who take God’s word seriously concerning family structure and His love for their offspring are equally likely to believe biblical truths about earning, spending, borrowing, giving, and saving. Believing these things, they are more likely to live by them, however imperfectly, than those who haven’t heard the word of God. Not every large family has the best grasp on these principles, it’s true, but it has been my experience that larger Christian families are much more likely to be debt-free and financially independent than even most smaller Christian families or childless couples.

In fact, what looks like scarcity to our credit-driven culture is often just a different set of values. My shoes aren’t always in the best condition, we live in a less well-appointed home than many would think acceptable, and our cars are beaters, but we’re debt free and building our savings. And yet, our neighbors seem to think we’re broke!

Some of my large-family friends are (by my lights, anyway) filthy rich, and others are struggling to keep the lights on, but none of them show any bitterness toward their children when the bills come due. This is because they know that the mere presence of children hasn’t done anything to change their true financial situation. They don’t measure people in dollars and cents.

God provides. For all Christian families, whether large or small, it always comes down to this: God provides for His children.

My father often used to talk in his sermons about a time when his daughters had no shoes, and he had no work boots. He cried out to God for help, and what do you know? My grandmother dropped by with shoes for both kids (note that our family was a “manageable” size, and yet we were poor), and he found by the side of the road a new, unworn pair of boots that were the size he needed. My father was working as hard as he could, but it was a bad economy, and he came from a poor family himself. He was doing his part in trying to provide, and it still wasn’t enough for our family’s needs at the time.

But God had enough for us!

I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.—Psalm 37:25

{ 36 comments }

Peggy
Twitter: mycraftingworld
May 3, 2012 at 1:35 pm

Very well said. Point made and I hope they take it.

I know many people that I wish could learn and believe as you do.

Ashley Cozzens
Twitter: oliveonandon
May 3, 2012 at 1:55 pm

This is such a pervasive thought process (tying into that link you shared a while back about government and population control through public education) and I really hate that I actually get shy about “admitting” we have another one on the way when I know this is the kind of response we will get. Our financial situation might have been caused in part by irresponsibility from our younger years, and we are learning the hard lessons of that now. But our children are NOT the result of irresponsible choices (inasmuch as children are “choices” to begin with in our point of view.)
If anything, having children has taught me more about what I can and cannot live without than any other life experience. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to have that automatic effect on everyone who has children. But it would serve our society well to learn what they can live without. I’m still learning myself, so I guess I need to have a few more!

Rachael May 3, 2012 at 2:06 pm

I always wonder if a financially stable family that unexpectedly hits hard times is expected to then “return” their children until they are financially recovered?!

Having only as many children as whatever you calculate you can afford does not guarantee your finances will always remain the same. Then what?

I am also amazed at how much other people seem to “know” about someone else’s financial situation and what they can or can not afford. The same people would probably congratulate the family if they bought a new car (on credit) but shake their heads if they have another child.

Stacy @Stacy Makes Cents
Twitter: stacymakescents
May 3, 2012 at 3:30 pm

Oh man, I LOVE that scripture verse at the bottom!!!
I am constantly amazed at the false perception that children cost a million dollars. Mine don’t. Maybe the ones that fear that children cost so much should stop SPENDING SO MUCH MONEY.
It’s a simple concept really.

Rebecca May 3, 2012 at 4:43 pm

Society’s standards of money and children are so opposite God’s standards. The world says…HE with the most toys wins….um, isn’t that why our nation is in the trouble it’s in right now? The toys we have…say I WIN, I WIN…. NO! Children are a blessing…I wish I had more…I wish I had been enlightened, but my children…their smiles, their arms…around my neck are worth more than a million dollars….LOVE your heart!

Cindy May 3, 2012 at 4:47 pm

And I love yours! MWAH!

Blessed Beyond a Doubt
Twitter: JillCraft
May 3, 2012 at 5:01 pm

Very well said, my friend!

Children are a blessing. It’s funny how people want the land(money), but not the children.

Continue writing for His glory!

Diana May 3, 2012 at 5:47 pm

*Love.* :)

Amanda May 3, 2012 at 8:53 pm

Thank you for this post. It really is all about priorities. My kids aren’t the best dressed (expensive clothes), my cars are paid for (and not the newest), our house is within our means (and on the fast track to being paid off) and we eschew every other form of debt. It’s all about what you view is important. The Bible says that where your treasure is that’s where your heart is.

Amber May 3, 2012 at 9:54 pm

Thank you for this article! I have been struggling with infertility for the last 3 years and while having a conversation with my dear 85 year old grandmother last night, she mentioned that I’m “lucky” I don’t have any children and that I’m “better off” without them because they cost too much! Oh my, was I upset that my own grandmother, who doesn’t know our financial situation even thought to mention this to me! Thank you for this inspiring article.

Dawn Wright May 4, 2012 at 2:06 pm

LOVE this article! People say the same whether biological or adopted!! It is so true. How can you afford having x number children. Ummmm…….how can we not?

Oh you mean am I worried because my children don’t have an I Phone at the age of 8? Or are you worried that they won’t be able to ‘afford’ college? Because those are very different questions!

People definitely have a view on your family if you are just a tad bit different from what society deems as “normal”. I PRAY WE WILL NEVER BE NORMAL- IT IS A COMPLIMENT – THANK YOU!

The Husband May 4, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Nailed it, love.

Hey, Reader, feeling argumentative? That, while she makes a point, there’s just something counter to her words that you can’t quite put your finger on?

It’s fear. And believe me, I understand it. Don’t let it hold you back.

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? – Psalm 27:1

Cindy May 4, 2012 at 3:39 pm

Gosh, I just love you.

republican mother May 5, 2012 at 10:33 am

This is a great post. God has always given us what we needed just when we need it. I need to work on using my family size as a witness for others. It’s the ultimate ice-breaker – a visual tool to give glory to God. Lemme tell you all the ways and times that God has provided for all of these kids! Let me tell you how marriage symbolizes Christ and his Church. The purpose of the church (bride) is to add members to the family of God. Every church wants more members right? A Christian family is God’s plan in miniature, trusting in Him for all provisions.
If they still haven’t run away at this point, you can ask them if they have trusted Christ as their Savior and Lord. I need to try this approach out the next time someone comments on my family size.

Melissa May 12, 2012 at 1:43 am

I agree, wholeheartedly. Thanks for writing this.

Erin May 14, 2012 at 12:55 pm

Love this article. I’m thinking I should print it off and hand it to my parents. Our finances are a mess, but we are digging our way out and bearing children along the way. Most of the mess due to having to live where housing is too costly for our income, the rest due to a child with a chronic medical condition.

We changed churches a few years ago because of some serious doctrinal disagreements we had with our old denomination (it is changing and becoming very worldly) and one pleasant surprise about our new and much smaller church is how much less it cost to have our children participate in the children’s activities. AWANA at our old church was over $200/year per child. Plus there were many other activities offered, all with a fee and these were only the elementary age programs. As we were the only “large family” there (a whopping four children at the time) no one else seemed to blink at the cost for each and every “super fun” activity for the kids. Each of the ministry staff had two children.

The burden that lifted off our shoulders the first fall at our new church was incredible. The pastor (who has 8 living children) stated that the Truth Tracker devotional books were $5.00 each, but if that was too much talk to him and the church would cover it. I hadn’t realized how every previous year the strain of having to come up money for everything was giving me tremendous anxiety.

It was extremely frustrating that not only did our previous church leaders ignore and essentially scoff at what God’s word says about children, they made it very difficult for any family with more than 1.7 children to not feel “poor” as we had to either not participate or fill out a “needs based scholarship application”. There was no way I wanted my family’s financial situation laid out for our friends and fellow church members to discuss. Nor do I feel that others should have to pay for our children to have or do anything.

All that to say this, it is so very sad when it is not just the world nor even fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, but the shepherds of the flock who discourage those who believe that all children are a blessing, even when the Lord gives you more than two of them.

David August 5, 2012 at 2:27 pm

I stumbled across this website as it was the first Google search result for “can’t afford children”.

I am Christian too, but my view is if a person is already struggling financially when having to pay for his/her own cost of living, that person should not have children. A person who is already struggling on his own, expecting God to provide for a future family, is putting God to the test in my opinion – similar to Satan’s temptation to Jesus to throw himself down from a high place.

I am blunt and not trying to offend anyone; I am just giving my opinion directly.

Cindy August 5, 2012 at 2:48 pm

David, I appreciate your being respectful. I’d appreciate it if you could show me where in the Bible we’re told that children are to be avoided if we’re poor. Or where it allows that the blessing of children is limited in some way. Or, for that matter, where it shows that God is limited in some way to provide for them. Or even, if you can find it, where God has inspired a writer to pray, not for plenty for his children, but for the children themselves not to exist. It is not the existence of children that impoverishes families. It is lack of faith.

(Edited to add:) I don’t ask these questions to back anyone into a corner or accuse them of lacking faith themselves (I’m sure you don’t!), but to point out that God has one way of looking at things–especially at human life–and the world has another. We have to choose which we think makes the most sense.

Chelle September 17, 2012 at 8:40 am

I think that when people question us about how can we “possibly afford all those children”, that we should respond that the blessing is so much better than the curse of Onan. We should remind people that “the thing which he did displeased the LORD: wherefore he slew him also.” (Genesis 38:10) What did Onan do that was so offensive as to warrant his death? He spilled his “seed” onto the ground rather than to allow conception to occur. Not a judgment that I would want for myself. But to take it just a little bit further. How many women out there have used birth control to delay the start of their families only to discover years later that they can now not have children or worse yet, suffer from miscarriage after miscarriage. Is that not also a judgment from God? Just thought I would share another perspective. :-)

Heather September 17, 2012 at 1:29 pm

I found your article interesting, but disagree with some of your points. For some women who struggle with infertility, there’s a lot of money that goes out of pocket before you even conceive. For instance, before our first child was born, we had already spent over $50,000 to try and get pregnant. A lot of families in situations like these DO have to plan and be in a financially responsible position.

Cindy September 17, 2012 at 1:34 pm

Infertility is a completely different topic, of course.

Heather September 17, 2012 at 2:09 pm

Thanks! I was hoping you’d say that! There are a lot of women that call themselves Christians that would believe that if you can’t afford fertility treatments, that God didn’t “call” you to be a mother. I had to deal with a lady telling me that and that I should have been happy when I miscarried because I was putting myself out of God’s will. It broke my heart. I believe that God provides for your children and people shouldn’t make rude comments regarding the number you have if you’re providing adequately for them. :)

Rourke December 26, 2012 at 2:30 pm

Like David I also stumbled on this website. My sister and law announced last night she is having her 5th child. I am all in favor of people choosing what number of children they should have, but there are simple things to take in to consideration that you don’t mention. Every child further subdivides the family resources, money and time. Using your logic, having 30 kids should be no problem as God will provide.

I personally think God gave us the ability to reason things out, to solve our own problems, not to proceed blithely forth just praying that God’s benevolent hand will always bail us out. There has to be some kind of limit on the number of children me family can support given finite resources.

My wife’s fundamentslist christian family all have 4 children and they all living subsistence level existences. I don’t presume to guess at their happiness level. But the kids never go anywhere and broaden their experiences. Very cloistered existences, rarely leaving their houses. They will never be able to afford to give those kids a leg up in this world, certainly not college. No idea of how to create a differenr life for themselves beyond the hardscrabble times they know now. Those kids will all likely have kids themselves very young and the cycle will continue.

Cindy December 26, 2012 at 2:56 pm

Better never to be born at all than to be poor, I guess. That’s totally Biblical. You can read further about my position on kids and money here: http://getalonghome.com/2012/03/common-sense-argument-large-families/ or here: http://getalonghome.com/2011/10/economy-children/

I’ll note further that any Christian who believes that God can’t provide for him far better than he can provide for himself needs to reassess whether he is really worshiping the God of the Bible. Also that no woman has ever given birth to 30 children. If she did, however, and she trusted God and prayed in His will, He’d take good care of them. :-)

Emily December 26, 2012 at 3:59 pm

I would have to disagree with you. I am one of six kids and my parents never made more than 25K/year. We were extremely poor but we have always felt richer than anyone we knew. According to your logic we should have no chance to better our lives. We were homeschooled and went to a home church for many years. However, we saw God provide in ways that we could never have imagined. We also learned to value hard work and family. My parents weren’t able to give us a financial leg up in life but we have all managed to become functioning members of society.

Four of us kids have been on short term mission trips in Eastern Europe. I went three times and one of my brothers went twice. My parents couldn’t provide the thousands of dollars that that cost but God could. My parents also couldn’t pay for college for us yet myself and two sisters are going/ have gone and have no debts because we have worked part or full time jobs and applied for financial aid and scholarships.My oldest brother never went to college but he just got accepted into the training program as a deputy sheriff. My next brother spent four years in the Marine Corps. He got out last year after three tours and will be starting school this summer. It will be completely paid for. My third brother is working and saving money for a house.

My parents have never bought one of us kids a new car or paid for college. We did grow up hardscrabble and I’m sure we kids didn’t know just how tough things were but that doesn’t mean we don’t know how to create a different life for ourselves. I would like to be more financially independent then my parents were but there is not much I would change about the way I grew up.

Emily December 26, 2012 at 4:07 pm

And also just because you grow up in a large family doesn’t mean you are going to get married young. My oldest brother is the only one married yet and he just got married last year at 28. I am 23 and would love to get married and have a family but not until I meet the right guy. God’s timing is always perfect so I am in no hurry!

Jennifer December 26, 2012 at 4:08 pm

I have 5 children. We don’t go “out” a lot, but man do we live abundantly! We play games and sing songs and read books. We live! We THRIVE! We don’t have a lot of stuff that the world seems to think we should, but we are happy. We struggle at times, but I’ve seen others with one or no children struggle a whole lot more. My kids (the older ones) know how to shop wisely with what they are given to truly get more for their money and we all work hard together. You know what that means? We are together more to work, which means we have more times together to laugh and love, too.

And God DOES provide, even if we somehow end up with 30 kids. He has told ALL of us to bolster our faith in Him and He will be there. Does it mean we might not get a big screen TV? Yeah, and sadly, some people think we are deprived for that…

Rourke December 27, 2012 at 6:35 am

I think a lot of good can come from going through struggles together as a family, no doubt. But having children is an enormous responsibility that has consequences that continue on in perpetuity. As a comparison, my extended family are very comfortable financially and all waited until they were established in their careers before having children. The benefits of this to their children were enormous. Their finances allowed them to give their children, not just “stuff”, but OPPORTUNITIES. Broadening the mental landscape is one thing having a little more money allows. Their children all went on to Ivy League schools, and were able to have lots of options and choices in life.

Now you can say your scratching out an existence serving God is noble and rewarding in its own right. The children of fundamentalist Christian families are often hard working good people that can take care of themselves. But the reality is that few ever become successful entrepreneurs, doctors, scientists, scholars, etc. the kind if people that change the world through their achievements. It is not enough to just be a good Christian in my view. And children from families on the lower of the evonomic totem pole don’t often break free from a life of meager living to achieve great things. I’m sorry but its true.

Michelle December 27, 2012 at 12:25 pm

So you are saying, Rourke, a person’s life is not valuable unless they become “…the kind of people that change the world through their achievements?” My grandmother never made the kind of achievements you listed but I believe she changed the world by her existence. Everyone I have talked to loved her and thought she was a great person. I think by knowing her it made them and me a better person. What are your accomplishments that make your existence better than children from a fundamentalist Christian family?

Cindy December 28, 2012 at 8:58 am

Michelle, when I stand before a holy God in judgment, he isn’t going to ask about my resume. He’s going to ask “Was my Son enough for you?” I think your grandma will have the right answer. :-)

Michelle December 29, 2012 at 1:38 pm

I believe she did too, Cindy.

Rourke December 28, 2012 at 2:42 pm

That’s not what I’m saying at all. I would never believe one life is “worth” more than another. I’m saying the benefits of planning a family are real and tangible. Conversely, leaving it up to God, like you have no choice in the matter, makes it more likely your children will have less opportunity, less time from you, less everything, because every additional child takes a little extra time/money from the sum total available. I know everyone wants what’s best for their kids, so when the data is right there that says kids growing up in poverty are rarely making it out of poverty as adults, how can one ignore that? Do a Google search sometime on economic mobility in this country. Do you really think it’s only the ones not spiritually fit who this applies to?

Think about this. How can one, as a Christian, bemoan the further depravity of society when you yourself are not giving your children the opportunities they need to thrive, become leaders, and make the change in the world you say you want. That’s the only way it’s ever going to happen. But for the exception here or there, society’s leaders are not coming from strict Christian upbringing. Your children must be trained up to be leaders, not accept the drippings living in the margins “getting by.”

jfred February 17, 2013 at 6:31 am

May I just leave a comment for thought. The Almighty Himself was born to poor parents. Young parents. His earthly father was a carpenter. His mother had many children. It is believed that Jesus spent His adult life helping support His family after Joseph’s death. His hard scrapple life led to the salvation of the world.

The other thought I have is that normal poverty statistics do not go hand in hand with a young, Christian family in poverty. A family who truly loves, worships, and obeys God, having 2 parents who raise and adore the kids, and who trusts the Lord with their needs….they paint a much different picture than a 16 yr old who starts having children by many partners. 2 parent home vs 1 parent home statistics are completely different. Add in belief in God and following His will, and anything can happen!

Angela January 17, 2013 at 1:29 am

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV)

Psalm 32:8 “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” (NIV)

Psalm 118:8 “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and lean not upon your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your path.” (~ KJV Ad)

Just as Christ did the will of His Father so are we to do. When you really trust God, its not ‘blind’ faith but TRUST. I trust that God has plans for me that are bigger and better than anything I, myself could have planned.

James 4:13-15 3 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

Cindy January 17, 2013 at 9:44 am

I like all of those. Would you like to expound upon them?

Steph February 15, 2013 at 12:33 am

I came across your post while searching(like so many others). I am currently pregnant with my fifth child, and am by no means stable. I have actually been lost these past few days in making a decision according to my heart. Your post inspired me to stick with God. Thanks to you (and more importantly God for putting your words in front of me) I have been re-awakened. Thank you.

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