Following up on this appalling yet predictable essay, which asserts that children are just status symbols meant to show off one’s wealth. This theory is supported with carefully selected data and anecdotes that would make sense only to people who have no normal people among their friends and acquaintances. Evidently, these people are over represented in places like NYC and DC, if you can imagine.*
As in all good lies, there’s a shred of truth. In this case, the truth – anecdotal, to be sure, but not contradicted in my experience – is that babies create wealth in the families blessed with them. It works like this: You, a normal guy, gets married, and, in the normal course of things, father children. Protect and provide instincts kick in, and you, with, say, to pick a COMPLETELY RANDOM example, a degree in Great Books and lots of classes in art and music, find yourself saying: OH MY GOD! These people, whom I love and are responsible for, are COUNTING ON ME!
Then, while you may have taken – again just picking examples out of thin air – a dumb job at an insurance company because directing church choirs wasn’t going to pay the rent, start a scramble that will continue unabated for the next 50 years: you start looking for every opportunity to get a better, more secure, better paying job.
Note that you do this even though you were pretty much cool with living hand to mouth and being very involved in art and music – that Bohemian vibe worked for you . So, maybe you get a MBA, take any promotion that comes up, burn the midnight oil to make sure your employer understands they can’t live without you – basically, you climb the economic ladder.
And, as a result of all this – not greed, but a sense of responsibility – you end up doing pretty well. I’m – we’re – doing pretty well. It took time. We already had a couple three kids before my income was above the household average for our area, and it wasn’t much above until the last 5 or 6 years. And none of this would have happened if we hadn’t had children.
Note that this phenomenon – fathers acting more responsibly – isn’t just or primarily about climbing to the top rungs of the economic ladder. If a man who would have otherwise been unemployed takes odd jobs just so he can give something to his wife and kids, that’s a huge step both socially and economically. Any father that focuses on long range thinking at all, that embraces his duty to his kids, is adding to society, raising the level of culture and, in a word, making the world a better place.
At least for us normal guys, children are most often the cause, not the effect of wealth.
*Are there places like DC and NYC? In the sense used here, maybe SF? That’s about it. There are normal people in Chicago, Dallas and Atlanta, maybe even in Baltimore. Boston?
1. Of course, once we’ve taken care of our duty to or families, once we *do* have money, guys, being human, like to be recognized for our success. This is a difficult path to trod without looking like a fool or a greedy SOB – but even this is more likely to be an effect rather than a cause of children.