I shook my head in disbelief when I heard Nick Ferrari’s words earlier this month.
‘If you are a mum and, or a dad, and you haven’t got money to buy your child a toothbrush, you should never have become a parent in the first place,’ he stated live on LBC.
His comments were in response to new research that revealed that four out of five teachers have given toothbrushes and toothpaste to their pupils.
I couldn’t believe the judgement in his words. Does he not realise that having children is so much more than just a financial decision?
When my husband Tom and I decided to have our first baby back in 2016, we weren’t sure if we could afford to become parents. Yes, we both had full-time jobs at the time, neither of us had any debt and we had recently bought a two-bed flat.
We were reasonably financially secure and there’s no denying that we could have afforded a toothbrush for our baby.
However, neither of us had particularly high wages and, by the end of the month, we were both eagerly awaiting pay day – and that was without trollies packed full of nappies and wipes, baby shampoo and bubble bath.
If we’d have sat down and worked out how much it was going to cost beforehand, including: the Moses basket, the car seat, the pram, the babygros, vests, and not to mention the nursery fees – plus, the impact maternity leave and subsequently going down to four days a week would have on my wages – well, I’m sure we would have declared immediately that we couldn’t afford it. Maybe even shelved the idea.
But the thing is, having a baby isn’t a financial decision. It’s something far more than that. It’s about whether it feels like the right time for you; whether you’re at a place in your life where you can offer all the love in the world to a baby.
It’s an experience in life some people long for. It’s how we’ve been designed – something that guarantees our survival as a species.
While of course you should consider costs before having a kid, it shouldn’t be the thing that stops you from having them.
I’d never been sure that I wanted children before I met Tom. I knew that having them would change my life completely, in a way that nothing else would, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted that. I was quite happy with my life as it was, if I’m honest.
I was 29 when I met Tom, who was 34. He changed everything. For the first time, I was with someone I could actually imagine having a future – and a family – with.
Yes, we couldn’t conceive how on earth we could afford to pay for one, though we wanted two, but we made it work. We dipped into our savings, accepted clothes our friends’ children had grown out of and stopped going out as much. We had to sacrifice, but it was worth it.
We knew how loved and wanted our kids would be; that we would do anything for them.
Now Theo is five and at school, and Immy is receiving 30 free hours of childcare at nursery. Only are things finally starting to relax financially, and become stable rather than feel touch-and-go. We’re able to book a few more weekends away, or a week in the sun together. I’m sure most parents go through the same thing.
There are so many factors that come into deciding whether or not to have children and, yes, finances should be part of that. Ideally, every parent-to-be should know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they should be able to pay for everything their child will need – toothbrushes and all.
But we don’t live in an ideal world.
Are we supposed to stop the poorest people in society from having children? Deny them the absolute joy and privilege of becoming a parent?
Would there be a minimum wage you’d have to earn before being allowed to give birth?
What Nick appears to fail to take into account is that people’s financial situations change. No-one anticipated Covid-19 and the impact that a pandemic and subsequent lockdown would have on wages and employment.
Now, we’re living in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis and are teetering on the brink of a recession, with spiralling energy bills, rising interest rates and food prices going up. All while more and more shops are closing, redundancies are being made and wages are remaining stagnant.
No one can know how their situation will change, and holding off having kids until a time when you have more money might not be the best plan. It’s definitely worth considering, sure, but money isn’t the most important factor in whether to start trying.
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