Politics & Current Events

How poor is too poor to have a baby?

So, the thread on "older" mothers got me thinking. Can you be "too poor" to have a baby? 

I believe that its responsible, but not necessary, to wait until you are financially sound to have children. Obviously, there is nothing stopping a 19-year old on welfare from having 4 kids if she wants. But should there be? 

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Re: How poor is too poor to have a baby?

  • I wish there was!

    if you need welfare you shouldn't have kids. or more kids

  • To me, the problem isn't that poor people want to have babies, it's that anybody in these here and now United States of America could be decreed by others to be "too poor" to have a child.

     

    Can you tell I'm getting more and more ticked off by income inequality issues?

    The Girl is 5. The Boy is 2. The Dog is 1.

    image image

    I am the 99%.
  • image LaurierGirl28:

    So, the thread on "older" mothers got me thinking. Can you be "too poor" to have a baby? 

    I believe that its responsible, but not necessary, to wait until you are financially sound to have children. Obviously, there is nothing stopping a 19-year old on welfare from having 4 kids if she wants. But should there be? 

    Actually, I thought there was something stopping them now. Hoepefully someone else will know more than me about this, but don't most states have limitations now about how many years you can be on welfare?

    I know that in RI people can receive cash assistance for no more than 24 months in any 60-month period, with a lifetime maximum of 48 months of benefits.  So I'm always confused by all the blowhards in the local paper's comments sections who complain about single mothers who are on welfare from the cradle to the grave, and who have more kids to keep their welfare check - because from what I read, it doesn't sound possible.

    I believe that a little too much emphasis is placed by some on being "financially sound" before having children.  There are never any guarantees in life, after all, and there are worse things in life than growing up well-loved but somewhat poor financially.  A child with a good family often doesn't ever realize they were poor until they're grown up or nearly grown up.  I don't believe a child needs a trust fund, a private school education and every paid activity/hobby to be successful and happy.

    On the other hand, there are also people who put too little emphasis on being "financially sound" before having children.  I don't think you need a large bank account to have children, but if you're unable to keep a job and a roof over your own head, you probably shouldn't be seriously entertaining the thought of having children.  If taking care of yourself is already a big struggle, it's not a wise idea to purposely bring a child into the mix.

     

  • Under TANF there is a lifetime max.

    I wish people would say what they mean by welfare.  Do they mean TANF, food stamps (SNAP), Medicaid/CHIP, unemployment, none of the above or all of the above? (I mean "they" in general not directed at any one person in this thread).

    I think some people still have the old welfare system in their minds and not some of the newer programs.  TANF changed the way the welfare system worked.  I will be ther first to say it is not perfect.  TANF is not a "anyone who asks for it can get it."  I have clients who do not get TANF because they get child support-even if that child support is not consistent. 

  • There are so many opinions about what constitutes poor that I don't this is something I can judge either, just like the age issue.

    I think if you're currently dealing with extreme poverty, you've got more important things to tackle, and one of those things should not be baby-making. Especially if an impoverished person or couple already has a child or children.

    Otherwise, to each his/her own.

  • TANF - the T is for temporary, correct?

    If I remember correctly (and to be honest, this has been 7 years ago) from a class I took in college that was about public policy and the family, there's a lifetime max and if you get pregnant while on TANF, your benefits don't increase beyond qualifying for prenatal care and then healthcare (medicaid or CHIP) for the child.

    Of course, there are ideal circumstances to have a child and financially secure would be one of the factors, but it's not the be all/end all.  I think it's personal based on what you want to provide for your child.  For example, we'll likely stop at 2 or 3 because we think it's important to pay for college for our kids.  But I don't apply that standard to everyone.  I know plenty of people who are "poor" who have kids and are great parents.  Kids don't really need all that much, despite what the bump tells us.

    Jackson Henry [10*1*06] & Scarlett Maeve [9*16*10]

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  • image eclaires:

    TANF - the T is for temporary, correct?

    Yes.

    TANF can also be "sanctioned" and/or denied.  The reason for sanctions can vary but it is not a "blank check" kind of program. 

  • If you're going to be homeless or are homeless, you are too poor for a baby.

    That said, I think there are definitely varying degrees of everything. And I think homelessness is an obscenity in the United States. I don't think you need to be able to afford the biggest, most expensive crib, but being able to provide adequate care should be a must. I think if you need WIC or welfare, it might be inadvisable to have a baby.

    Babies shouldn't be seen as luxuries for the wealthy. And just because something isn't the Platonic Ideal of Baby Raising doesn't mean it's not good enough for the baby.

    H and I are too poor for a baby. Like legitimately. But we're both emotionally ready for a baby, and we have wonderfully supportive families who would never allow anything dire to happen to us or to our baby. So while on paper we're "too poor," we're not really.  

  • I agree that kids don't need much to be healthy and happy.  However, a permanent roof over their heads, food, and basic clothing would be nice.
    image Visit The Nest! Love to scrapbook!
  • image eclaires:

    ].  Kids don't really need all that much, despite what the bump tells us.

     

    This made me laugh :)

    I do agree, and I certainly wasn't asking the question implying that you must be wealthy to have kids. Actually, I grew up relatively poor, and it didn't matter at all. We had enough food to eat, and a roof over our heads. We didn't vacation or eat out, so now that I am a financially-sound adult, I do those things all the time :) 

    I do have concerns about those on welfare having kids though - I think they should refrain until they are financially stable - not wealthy, but stable. 

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  • image bunnybean:

    If you're going to be homeless or are homeless, you are too poor for a baby.

    I understand most of your comment but who plans on being homeless or says "I am going to be homeless". 

    And what about those who are pregnant and then find themselves homeless, like those women who are homeless due to fleeing a DV situation and happen to be pregnant. 

    I have a hard time casting them as "too poor to have a baby".  Is their situation ideal-no but their current situation does not have to become their permanent situation.

    I admit this is a topic that I am very emotional about and get frustrated by the current programs to help those with children who are homeless.  Raising children in a homeless shelter is less than ideal and I wish that we could do more to help those families. 

    ETA: I just reread what I wrote and apologize it seems to be a rant against you, BB.  It is not.  It is a rant at some of the issues facing homeless individuals with children. 

  • If you believe that reliance on some level of government support OR private charity to meet the basic needs of a child means that someone is "too poor" to have children, then you believe that a very sizable portion of the world's population, maybe even most, shouldn't have children. And you also believe that some countries should basically cease to exist, because so few in their population are eligible to reproduce.
    "We tend to be patronizing about the poor in a very specific sense, which is that we tend to think,
  • image mominatrix:
    To me, the problem isn't that poor people want to have babies, it's that anybody in these here and now United States of America could be decreed by others to be "too poor" to have a child.

     

    Can you tell I'm getting more and more ticked off by income inequality issues?

    I, too, am quite over it.

    image
    You know how we do
  • TAFN has limits now but SSI doesn't... so you have lots of kids and get them qualified for SSI....

    Poor people need to repoduce in order for capitalism to work.

  • image soontobeka:
    image bunnybean:

    If you're going to be homeless or are homeless, you are too poor for a baby.

    I understand most of your comment but who plans on being homeless or says "I am going to be homeless". 

    And what about those who are pregnant and then find themselves homeless, like those women who are homeless due to fleeing a DV situation and happen to be pregnant. 

    I have a hard time casting them as "too poor to have a baby".  Is their situation ideal-no but their current situation does not have to become their permanent situation.

    I admit this is a topic that I am very emotional about and get frustrated by the current programs to help those with children who are homeless.  Raising children in a homeless shelter is less than ideal and I wish that we could do more to help those families. 

    ETA: I just reread what I wrote and apologize it seems to be a rant against you, BB.  It is not.  It is a rant at some of the issues facing homeless individuals with children. 

    Oh, no worries! I think we agree. I am never going to curtail someone's reproductive choices based on poverty, and I want there to be better options for people who are poor and have babies!

    By going to be homeless, I just meant someone who is already barely hanging on by a thread, and then a baby is introduced into the situation, which is just that much more taxing. I don't think it's advisable to enter into a pregnancy, but obviously things happen and I think these people should have much more all-encompassing safety nets. 

  • I'm pretty sure the US would collapse completely if all the poor people stopped having babies. Our population would be decimated. And while I "get" the argument of waiting until you are financially stable, many people will never be financially stable, including the parents of most of my students. Should entire segments of the population really never have kids simply because they were born into poverty and don't know the way out?

     

  • image IncogNeato:

    I'm pretty sure the US would collapse completely if all the poor people stopped having babies. Our population would be decimated. And while I "get" the argument of waiting until you are financially stable, many people will never be financially stable, including the parents of most of my students. Should entire segments of the population really never have kids simply because they were born into poverty and don't know the way out?

     

    From a purely financial point of view, why would it devastate the us to lose a segment of the population that recieves more in benefits than they pay into the system in taxes? I'm not getting into the morality of this, just strictly a cold financial perspective.
    "I
  • image talltalltrees:
    image IncogNeato:

    I'm pretty sure the US would collapse completely if all the poor people stopped having babies. Our population would be decimated. And while I "get" the argument of waiting until you are financially stable, many people will never be financially stable, including the parents of most of my students. Should entire segments of the population really never have kids simply because they were born into poverty and don't know the way out?

     

    From a purely financial point of view, why would it devastate the us to lose a segment of the population that recieves more in benefits than they pay into the system in taxes? I'm not getting into the morality of this, just strictly a cold financial perspective.

    they're the people who are willing to do the nasty work, for little pay.

    they're the people who live in unsafe conditions, because landlords are too cheap to fix up their buildings.

    they're the people who spend 100% of what they make on the necessities of life - - so their contribution to the economy (through things like sales taxes) is actually higher (on a % basis) than somebody who's making jillions of dollars a year and socking most of it away.

     

    ...they don't exist, and other (smarter, more educated, more well off) folk have to empty bedpans, and scrub toilets, and pick strawberries. Millions of landlords and bodegas and other facilities go out of business. Local tax bases take a huge huge hit.

    Our economy rests on the backs of these folk.

    The Girl is 5. The Boy is 2. The Dog is 1.

    image image

    I am the 99%.
  • image mominatrix:
    image talltalltrees:
    image IncogNeato:

    I'm pretty sure the US would collapse completely if all the poor people stopped having babies. Our population would be decimated. And while I "get" the argument of waiting until you are financially stable, many people will never be financially stable, including the parents of most of my students. Should entire segments of the population really never have kids simply because they were born into poverty and don't know the way out?

     

    From a purely financial point of view, why would it devastate the us to lose a segment of the population that recieves more in benefits than they pay into the system in taxes? I'm not getting into the morality of this, just strictly a cold financial perspective.

    they're the people who are willing to do the nasty work, for little pay.

    they're the people who live in unsafe conditions, because landlords are too cheap to fix up their buildings.

    they're the people who spend 100% of what they make on the necessities of life - - so their contribution to the economy (through things like sales taxes) is actually higher (on a % basis) than somebody who's making jillions of dollars a year and socking most of it away.

     

    ...they don't exist, and other (smarter, more educated, more well off) folk have to empty bedpans, and scrub toilets, and pick strawberries. Millions of landlords and bodegas and other facilities go out of business. Local tax bases take a huge huge hit.

    Our economy rests on the backs of these folk.

    I agree.

  • That's hard to say. My parents had me when they were 21 and my mom dropped out of college. If they had been alone in this situation, they probably would have needed some kind of public assistance. However, they were fortunate in that my maternal grandparents were very supportive and let them live rent free in the apartment attached to their house. Later, when my great grandmother died, my grandfather sold them her house at a ridiculously low price. My mother eventually finished her education - again through the support of my grandparents - and found a professional job.

    So although many might have considered them too poor to have a child at their age, because of the strong support they received from family members, everything worked out very well for them (and me, haha).

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  • image sandsonik:
    image LaurierGirl28:

    So, the thread on "older" mothers got me thinking. Can you be "too poor" to have a baby? 

    I believe that its responsible, but not necessary, to wait until you are financially sound to have children. Obviously, there is nothing stopping a 19-year old on welfare from having 4 kids if she wants. But should there be? 

    Actually, I thought there was something stopping them now. Hoepefully someone else will know more than me about this, but don't most states have limitations now about how many years you can be on welfare?

    I know that in RI people can receive cash assistance for no more than 24 months in any 60-month period, with a lifetime maximum of 48 months of benefits.  So I'm always confused by all the blowhards in the local paper's comments sections who complain about single mothers who are on welfare from the cradle to the grave, and who have more kids to keep their welfare check - because from what I read, it doesn't sound possible.

    I believe that a little too much emphasis is placed by some on being "financially sound" before having children.  There are never any guarantees in life, after all, and there are worse things in life than growing up well-loved but somewhat poor financially.  A child with a good family often doesn't ever realize they were poor until they're grown up or nearly grown up.  I don't believe a child needs a trust fund, a private school education and every paid activity/hobby to be successful and happy.

    On the other hand, there are also people who put too little emphasis on being "financially sound" before having children.  I don't think you need a large bank account to have children, but if you're unable to keep a job and a roof over your own head, you probably shouldn't be seriously entertaining the thought of having children.  If taking care of yourself is already a big struggle, it's not a wise idea to purposely bring a child into the mix.

     

    States are allowed to exempt up to 20% of their caseloads. Typically these are the people about whom these statements are made.

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  • Violets brings up a very good point about support, which I want to expand on.

    I am very surprised to hear about how many grown adults with children get financial assistance from the grandparents - sometimes from even before they had a kid. Then let's not forget the grandparents who watch the kid(s) for free or for very little when the parents are at work. And there are other ways to get assistance from family too.

    And yet, I'm willing to bet quite a few of these parents would be the types to say that people on welfare shouldn't have kids. Whether it's from the state or from the extended family - it's still assistance and technically if you think people "on assistance" shouldn't be having kids, then you shouldn't be having them either unless you can do without family assistance.

    So this is why I feel weird judging people on their reproductive choices. 

    Rant over. Violets, this wasn't against your parents in any way, it just reminded me of what was already in my head.

  • image mxolisi:
    If you believe that reliance on some level of government support OR private charity to meet the basic needs of a child means that someone is "too poor" to have children, then you believe that a very sizable portion of the world's population, maybe even most, shouldn't have children. And you also believe that some countries should basically cease to exist, because so few in their population are eligible to reproduce.

    Just because I think Americans should have a roof over their head and not rely on food stamps to feed themselves when choosing to make a baby does not mean that I think that the Atlantic Ocean should just swallow up Guinnea-Bissau.

    The two situations are apples and oranges.

    Even within the context of paralyzing generational poverty in the United States, the most desolate person here has choices that a person in many of those countries simply do not have or will ever have.

    I think its obvious that people here in this thread are limiting their comments to America. I mean, I appreciate that you are trying to get everyone to think broader, but do you really think that its hypocritical to say  "people who need food stamps shouldn't have kids" and simultaneously think that the Haitian earthquake and the death toll there was a tragedy?



     

     

     

     

  • mr+msmr+ms member

    image mominatrix:

    they're the people who spend 100% of what they make on the necessities of life - - so their contribution to the economy (through things like sales taxes) is actually higher (on a % basis) than somebody who's making jillions of dollars a year and socking most of it away.

     

    ...they don't exist, and other (smarter, more educated, more well off) folk have to empty bedpans, and scrub toilets, and pick strawberries. Millions of landlords and bodegas and other facilities go out of business. Local tax bases take a huge huge hit.

    Our economy rests on the backs of these folk.

    Thank you. I don't know why this concept eludes people who are otherwise pretty sharp (that I witness both on the nest and IRL). 

  • image mominatrix:
    image talltalltrees:
    image IncogNeato:

    I'm pretty sure the US would collapse completely if all the poor people stopped having babies. Our population would be decimated. And while I "get" the argument of waiting until you are financially stable, many people will never be financially stable, including the parents of most of my students. Should entire segments of the population really never have kids simply because they were born into poverty and don't know the way out?

     

    From a purely financial point of view, why would it devastate the us to lose a segment of the population that recieves more in benefits than they pay into the system in taxes? I'm not getting into the morality of this, just strictly a cold financial perspective.

    they're the people who are willing to do the nasty work, for little pay.

    they're the people who live in unsafe conditions, because landlords are too cheap to fix up their buildings.

    they're the people who spend 100% of what they make on the necessities of life - - so their contribution to the economy (through things like sales taxes) is actually higher (on a % basis) than somebody who's making jillions of dollars a year and socking most of it away.

     

    ...they don't exist, and other (smarter, more educated, more well off) folk have to empty bedpans, and scrub toilets, and pick strawberries. Millions of landlords and bodegas and other facilities go out of business. Local tax bases take a huge huge hit.

    Our economy rests on the backs of these folk.

    So this raises an interesting question, though. Isn't it then bad for the economy to educate these people and bring them out of poverty?

    "I
  • image talltalltrees:
    image mominatrix:
    image talltalltrees:
    image IncogNeato:

    I'm pretty sure the US would collapse completely if all the poor people stopped having babies. Our population would be decimated. And while I "get" the argument of waiting until you are financially stable, many people will never be financially stable, including the parents of most of my students. Should entire segments of the population really never have kids simply because they were born into poverty and don't know the way out?

     

    From a purely financial point of view, why would it devastate the us to lose a segment of the population that recieves more in benefits than they pay into the system in taxes? I'm not getting into the morality of this, just strictly a cold financial perspective.

    they're the people who are willing to do the nasty work, for little pay.

    they're the people who live in unsafe conditions, because landlords are too cheap to fix up their buildings.

    they're the people who spend 100% of what they make on the necessities of life - - so their contribution to the economy (through things like sales taxes) is actually higher (on a % basis) than somebody who's making jillions of dollars a year and socking most of it away.

     

    ...they don't exist, and other (smarter, more educated, more well off) folk have to empty bedpans, and scrub toilets, and pick strawberries. Millions of landlords and bodegas and other facilities go out of business. Local tax bases take a huge huge hit.

    Our economy rests on the backs of these folk.

    So this raises an interesting question, though. Isn't it then bad for the economy to educate these people and bring them out of poverty?

    to a certain extent, yes.

    there are people who will tell you that's the fundamental reason why the public school system in this country sucks big time - - it's not meant to actually educate anyone, but merely to perpetuate the economic status quo - -

    teach them enough to be cogs in the economic machine, but not enough to be truly dangerous... or even rise above their particular level in any massive number

    The Girl is 5. The Boy is 2. The Dog is 1.

    image image

    I am the 99%.
  • Well, as a teacher I would have to argue that no one I have ever met in the US educational system has that goal. My goal is to educate each child well enough that he/she stands a fighting chance of reaching his/her goals, whatever they may be. I recognize that all kids will not and probably should not, go to college. But my students deserve a fighting chance to compete with the privileged kids if they have he brainpower and the drive to do so.

    But yes, overall, we do need poor people to do certain jobs. If every American had a college degree we'd just have custodians and trash men with college degrees. All children deserve an equal chance at the American dream. However, to act like poor people should just "overcome" crippling poverty, poor nutrition, disruptive home lives, and uneducated parents is kind of rude, IMHO. My students don't even know people can live like most of us do. It's not easy to jump out of your socioeconomic status.

  • image mominatrix:

    to a certain extent, yes.

    there are people who will tell you that's the fundamental reason why the public school system in this country sucks big time - - it's not meant to actually educate anyone, but merely to perpetuate the economic status quo - -

    teach them enough to be cogs in the economic machine, but not enough to be truly dangerous... or even rise above their particular level in any massive number

    I think you're raising two separate issues that are actually in conflict.

    I'll give you that students aren't learning enough critical thinking to be "truly dangerous," but in order to be cogs in the economic machine, they need a level of competency and knowledge. Cube monkeys may not be self starters, but they sure do well!

    I think schools are partially to blame for students not being able to get out of shiitty situations, but more because it's hard for schools to recognize and connect with the issues that inner city kids, for example, deal with on a daily basis. Parents are often not in the picture and have been drop outs themselves, so they don't take their child's success in school seriously. 

    And of course, there's the fact that we spend alarmingly little on education in this country, especially compared to the rest of the west. 

  • image bunnybean:

    image mominatrix:

    to a certain extent, yes.

    there are people who will tell you that's the fundamental reason why the public school system in this country sucks big time - - it's not meant to actually educate anyone, but merely to perpetuate the economic status quo - -

    teach them enough to be cogs in the economic machine, but not enough to be truly dangerous... or even rise above their particular level in any massive number

    I think you're raising two separate issues that are actually in conflict.

    I'll give you that students aren't learning enough critical thinking to be "truly dangerous," but in order to be cogs in the economic machine, they need a level of competency and knowledge. Cube monkeys may not be self starters, but they sure do well!

    I think schools are partially to blame for students not being able to get out of shiitty situations, but more because it's hard for schools to recognize and connect with the issues that inner city kids, for example, deal with on a daily basis. Parents are often not in the picture and have been drop outs themselves, so they don't take their child's success in school seriously. 

    And of course, there's the fact that we spend alarmingly little on education in this country, especially compared to the rest of the west. 

    we aren't talking about cube monkeys... we're talking about the difference between somebody who works on a line, or trash guys, or day laborers and the multi-million-dollar-a year CEO.

    people may be able to use the public education system to move around among the low-end of the economic ladder, but precious few of them will break out to become cube monkeys... and an even more infititesimal fraction of them will break out to become CEO's etc.

     

    ever wonder why the great dream of inner city kids is to become a pro athlete? sure, it's a one in a million shot to get into the NBA...

    but it's a one in a billion shot to become a big-time business guy.

     

     

     

    Also, I want to say that I'm not sold 100% on this theory, and definitely don't mean it to diss public school teachers... DH is a big believer in it, and his mother is a retired public school teacher. 

    Interesting to note, though, that his brother teaches in an elite private boarding school (high school bio) while his sister in law teaches the same subject in the town's public school.

     

    The Girl is 5. The Boy is 2. The Dog is 1.

    image image

    I am the 99%.
  • If you mean, "should there be" legislation - I say, unequivocally, no.  

    However, as a practical semi-ethical matter, if you are living hand to mouth with just you and your husband, you probably shouldn't have kids.  If you are living hand to mouth with no husband, you definitely shouldn't have kids.

    However, I don't think finances alone are a good way to judge quality of parenting.  People can be "poor" and be excellent parents.  When you think of the things that "should" disqualify one from being a parent, there are probably 1000 things the more closely correlate with parenting ability than financial resources.

    I would add to that, that I think someone who makes $150K a year, but carries a balance on their credit cards and is over extended on their mortgage, and can't give up their Starbucks coffee habit to save their 401(k) is probably less "ready" to be a parent than someone who makes $25K a year, but has found a way to make it work.  

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