When Poor Planning Makes For Bad Parenting

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The Case For Not Having Kids

Having kids is easy to get into, like a marriage. Kids are in my opinion harder to maintain. They cost a lot. They require a lot. They need a lot. They want a lot. And most people have no clue until they get knee deep into it.

When the suddenly find out they failed to plan accordingly, they want a bailout. The bailout comes in the form of parents and grandparents

It’s getting harder and harder to take care of yourself if you’re an adult. Deciding to go out and make or “get” a family is a huge responsibility. If you decide to get into it, you should think it out long and hard before getting knee deep into it. Otherwise, you could be turning your problems into someone else's problems.

Women (and Men) Standing in the Gap For Family

Over the holidays I spent time with my best friend and her sisters, and there was a resounding theme in the room. All of my friend’s sisters were strong, close-knit, beautiful Black women who were older, retired with health and well-being ranging from pretty good to very poor. These women range in age from 55-years to 80-years old. Nearly all these women all had spouses still alive in the same health, and nearly all these women had at least one of their good and grown children living with them. Not only were they helping at least one of their children with child-rearing and/or housing, a few of the children, this child also brought his spouse too.

The women’s grandchildren were in need of constant, full-time supervision, babysitting, caretaking, picking up after, feeding…you know, all the things PARENTS are supposed to be doing for their own children when they are young, spry, and in good health.

One son moved in his wife who decides when she wants to be a mother. She leaves the husband to care for the kids when it gets too much for months at a time, which was the reason he ended up at his mother’s house in the first place.

One of the sisters came in the door on her cane with her granddaughter and step-grandson who appeared to be in perhaps the 2nd and 3rd grades respectively. It was her son’s day off, so he and his in again-out again wide decided to send their children off with their grandparents as if their grandparents hadn’t committed plenty enough time already to rearing their kids already.

Young people are so inconsiderate.

My friend’s sister sat next to me, giving me a huge hug because we have one thing in common: kids who can’t seem to get their shit together. We have kids who rely on us to clean up their messes and act as stop gaps when they fuck up royally.

I asked my friend’s sister how she was doing.

She gave me a stern look, and said, “I’m so tired. I need a break from these kids. I am looking for some place to go and get away.”

This beautiful, kind, giving, caring Black woman is looking for a break from her children and her grandchildren. Why do people do this to people they claim they love? Why are women treated like the mules of families?

Sometimes, it feels like Black women are mules for the entire world.

When people can’t take care of their own kids, they make their problems the problems of other extended family members.

My friend’s sister commenced to sharing how she felt like she had to leave her home in order to have peace because her son’s poor plan and poor choosing of a mate/wife is causing a huge hardship on her household. She said she wanted to come stay at her sister’s in the spare bedroom to not only get away from her son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren, but also to get away from her husband who opened their home up to their son, but refuses to help with the housework and child rearing they both decided to punish themselves with.

This woman could barely walk, yet she was saddled with hollering constantly at the young children trying to get them to mind, fixing their dinner plates, and making sure the children were okay while her adult son had the luxury of having a break.

She wasn’t the only sister at the dinner absolutely exhausted from children making their problem’s their mother’s problems.

Another sister was actually raising her two young granddaughters. Their mother (who was White) died from cancer a few years ago after going through a few terrible years in an on again off again relationship with her son. This mother basically abandoned her biracial children’s father, who was not equipped to care for all the needs of two daughters daily. He moved back into his mother’s home after she had recently retired, and she’s raised the children as her own ever since. Some retirement gift.

Her entire life now is dedicated to raising her son’s children. But wait, there’s more.

Now he’s dating a woman with nine children (that’s right I said nine), and he brings all the children to his mom’s home so they can go out from time to time. I realize you can’t help who you love, but damn…decisions have consequences. This particular grandmother and caretaker is in fairly good health, but her husband is getting to be a little frail. Who will take care of these two people when they have nothing else to give?

Young people are making choices to have children without planning properly, making their problems the problems of their extended family.

My Friend, The Childless Savior

My best friend had to let her sorry nephew move in with her earlier this year. He has 3 biracial kids by a woman he married. The young lady also had one child prior to the three kids being born, and has one since they split. The reasons for the split are sketchy, but we’re pretty sure some cheating, poor planning, and sorry assness were involved.

My friend’s nephew and his White wife were living with the wife’s White father, but once the marriage ended dad sent the soon-to-be ex-husband packing along with his biracial grandsons by the nephew. Apparently, he has a fancy for his young granddaughters (the oldest grandchild was a girl, and the youngest was a girl)…so he allowed them to stay in the home with the mother.

In any event, my friend’s nephew and three great-nephews were living pillow to post while dad struggled to care for them alone. She helped his father raise him after his mother died from cancer when he was very young. History has a funny way of repeating itself when people don’t recall their history.

The kids were being left alone, not fed properly…because that’s what people who don’t plan for children do. So, the family decided to bail him out. The “family” at this juncture consists my best friend, because most of the other sisters in the family were already carrying someone else’s burdens. My friend is 55-years old, has never birthed any children of her own, works 6 days per week (full-time) in a local textile factory, and maintains her home alone. She has no significant other.

Not only did she allow her nephew to move in, she’s now the cook for three hungry little boys ages 5, 7, and 8, as well as after-school childcare plan for the nephew’s kids since he decided to get himself a 2nd shift job. Her nephew has a new girlfriend he moved in with a few weeks ago, but she only has one child. Taking on three little boys and a struggling man-child is going to be quite the challenge. She realizes at any moment the girlfriend could send her nephew and his kids packing. She’s praying everyday things will work out so he can get out.

All three kids wet the bed, even when napping.

It’s a never ending cycle.

The youngest of the three still pees and poops his clothes I guess because his father can’t wake up long enough to get all the training done. The 5-year old has never been to school because his father is too sorry to get him into one. My best friend has lots of experience raising some of her nieces and nephews over the years when she was younger. Never in a million years did she expect to be repeating this cycle at this stage of her life. The poor, innocent kids deserve better too. No child should be born and forced to live under such circumstances.

It’s so unnecessary. If young people would make better choices…

But my friend is much older now, and not in tip-top form. She’s had a knee replacement, and she has a few other minor health issues that will only get worse with aging. She doesn’t have the energy or the desire to help lazy, inconsiderate young people who decide to have sex without thinking of all the consequences.

Her great-nephews have torn the off the doorknobs, ruined her sofa, mattress, and soiled her carpet to the point where it all needs to be replaced. Who the heck has extra money for that, that season of life was over long ago. But what is the purpose when they still come over after school 5-days a week? No need to clean it if they are just going to soil the stuff up again.

And what does dad do all day? Sleep.

As long as the kids don’t wake him, he’s good. He doesn’t care one bit if his kids are destroying their great aunt’s home. After all, he doesn’t own anything anyway. His entire existence is due to the charity and kindness of others.

Who will soothe my friend’s soul and salve her wounds when that time comes? Not the inconsiderate young relatives of today. I’m sure of it.

Why Are People So Irresponsible Today?

There are too many grandmothers, grandpas, aunts, and friends taking care of children because people wanted something they didn’t have the capacity to care for. It’s a common phenomenon and a sad state of affairs.

Having kids cost a lot of money. Having kids also isn’t a necessity. People should plan to have kids just like they would plan for going to college and taking out student loans, buying and paying for a home, or purchasing and maintaining a new or used car. People also need to count the mental and emotional investments required to police little people until they become self-sufficient.

Children are huge responsibilities, and many people seemingly want kids for the wrong reasons. And even if people want them for the wrong reasons, they still don’t plan properly to ensure every base is covered, which is wrong!

Kids Are Wants Not Needs

People don’t need to have kids just like people don’t need to buy a house they can’t afford. They do it because they want to, because it’s the in thing to do, or because society says you need to. Then people bitch about their parenting experiences later because they don’t have all of the tools and resources needed to care for their little bundles, expecting someone to come along to help bail them out (i.e. parents, grandparents, dads, and aunts).

Nobody needs kids. Most people don’t realize today having a kid is a luxury. Having a kid is a want, and people should think long and hard about how their decision to have kids will not only impact their other kids, but also their extended family members, in particular women, aunts, and especially mothers.

When people can’t take care of their own kids, they make their problems the problems of other extended family members

If you can’t afford children, don’t have them. Kids are wants, not needs!

Back in the old days, people had lots of kids because they needed help. Help on their farms, help with share cropping, and help with family businesses. Today, nobody needs to have kids to sustain the family. In fact, today children often have the opposite effect. Children actually take away from a family’s ability to accrue wealth because of the amount of resources it takes to raise one.

While you may think it’s awesome to rely on extended family, your family may not feel the same way. Life beats all of us down at some point. When we’ve paid our dues, raised our kids and got our own kids to become self-sufficient we parents expect a breather, not for our kids to decide to have kids and include us in their childcare plans.

Helping out of obligation and love can take a toll on loved ones.

Remember all of the women you may burden with your family aspirations. Will you be available to soothe the souls of those who have aided you with you caretaking obligations? Will you be able to return the favor, love, and kindness by nursing ailments and wounds in your family’s time of need?

Mothers and fathers, especially parents of a different seasons or in poor health, should not be seen as mules for their families.

Estimate the cost of raising kids before having them. And not just the financial costs. Also weigh the social, emotional, and mental tolls children take on families and extended families when children rearing plans include other people who have no say in whether or not a couple should have kids.

And while some people may say these average amounts are way off, many people don’t take into consideration the in-kind babysitting, free public services accessed, tax credits, or the fact some people simply choose to not work and live on less to care for their children. Average costs can vary based on where you live and the types of in-kind family supports you have (or don’t have). Basics like food, shelter, clothes, schooling, and health care for the first 20 years of a child’s life are not optional.

To Young People Thinking About Starting a Family

The moral of this story is not to make your bundles of joy someone else’s burden. If you want to have kids, take care of them. If you plan on having kids and will need help, you need to inquire BEFORE you start your family. You may be surprised at the response you receive.

Your family may not want to participate in your caretaking plan. So procreate wisely! Poor family planning makes for bad parenting.

Marley K., 2018

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