I’ve written before about why it’s unfair to leave the burden of care taking on your offspring (When I get old…living the childfree life). However I haven’t actually written about why working a child into your retirement plan is not a good plan. A conversation I had the other day inspired me to write this post.
The other day I was talking to an acquaintance about whether or not they planned on having children. She told me they had gone back and forth on the idea and ultimately they decided they probably should. The reason? They want to make sure there’s someone there to take care of them when they’re old. *Cue my mouth gaping open.* I really wanted to ask her if she knew how crazy that sounded but, since she’s just a casual acquaintance, I shut my mouth and nodded my head. After all we are all entitled to our own opinions. Here are the reasons I think having a child to care for you in old age is a short-sighted plan.
Diseases and disabilities
There’s two big Ds that no one wants to talk about when planning for a child, but they’re very important ones to consider. What if your child is born with a disease or disability? How would you actually handle this situation? I know that most people want to stick their head in the sand and say it won’t happen to them but it actually does happen to a lot of people.
According to Autism Speaks Canada 1 in 68 children have autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The prevalence of ASD has increased over 100% in the last 10 years and is now the fastest growing and most commonly diagnosed neurological disorder in Canada. Alternatively, between 1979 and 2003 the number of babies born with Down Syndrome increased by about 30% (statistic from US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Here in Canada, approximately 1 in every 781 live births results in a Down syndrome determination. These numbers are shocking and yet so many people assume they won’t be the 68th or the 781st person. And those are only two of many different diseases or disabilities a child could have.
Would you and your partner rise to the call of parenting a special needs child or would your partnership crumble under the stress? Do you even have a partnership or would all the parenting and specialist appointments fall on you? Are you ready to potentially take care of your child all through your retirement instead of them taking care of you? I realize that raising a child with special needs can still be a fulfilling experience but it can also put a lot of stress on your relationships, finances, and of course, retirement plans.
Life is really expensive and confusing (the boomerang kids)
Even if you are blessed enough to have a child that finds a job or goes post-secondary education after high school, there is no guarantee that the child won’t boomerang right back into your house.
Many people graduate and don’t immediately find jobs. Others find jobs then decide it just isn’t what they want to do (or they get fired). So suddenly they’re back on their parent’s doorstep for days, weeks, months or even years. Are you willing to delay your retirement plans for an extra few years so you can feed and clothe your 20 or 30-something? Will you have even been able to save enough to retire after all those years of hockey lessons, ballet classes etc.?
We live in a global society; why do you think your child will stick around?
Life has changed drastically with the popularity of the internet and the affordability of air travel. Whereas your parents may have been born in, and stayed in, the same town their whole lives, many people no longer go that route. Some people travel across the country for better jobs, others travel to the other side of the world just for the experience. If you have a child that someday wants to leave will you try to guilt them into staying because they’re part of your retirement plan?
Some people are just a**houls
I have three grandparents in their 90s so I’ve seen my share of nursing homes. I can tell you right now that there are a lot of elderly people who had children but have still ended up in an elderly care home. Yes some of them had to be there because the level of care required for them is astronomical. But there are also a lot of people in there who don’t really need to be. Are you really so confident that you’ll have a child that won’t someday ship you off to a nursing home? I bet many people that now live in those homes used to think that too. Having a child doesn’t mean you won’t end up with the same fate as the childfree.
I’m not saying that people shouldn’t have children. To each their own- heck have ten if you want! What I am saying is having them so one day they’ll be there to teach you how to use that new fangled hologram machine, or pick up your groceries, is not a great idea. Sure it’s great if they are but please don’t ever have children just so you’re not alone when you’re old.