When You Can’t Afford a Third Child

Many would claim that finances should determine how many children we have. If you can’t afford it, don’t have babies. The stork should be strictly cash on delivery. Debt and diapers don’t mix. It’s all about the bottom line.

That sounds reasonable. But let’s see if it makes sense.

Let’s say my financial adviser assesses that I can afford to have three children, and no more. So I go ahead and have them. A few years down the line, my situation changes drastically for the worse and I can no longer pay the bills for a family of five souls. So I call in my youngest and say, “I am sorry, we made a miscalculation. We thought we could afford you. But you know how unpredictable the market is these days. We are going to have to let you go…”

How are we supposed to measure how many children we can afford? Does anyone know the future to be able to say for sure what size family we can or can’t fund? Who can say for certain that they can even afford one child?

A family is not a business. It’s about people, not profits. Having a big family is making a choice that my wealth is my children, and though I don’t know what the future holds, I will do all I can to provide for them in every way. If that means sacrificing then every sacrifice is worth it.

There indeed are situations where Jewish law limits our multiplying. But that will be determined by their spiritual mentor and their health practitioner, not their accountant.

I have often heard people say they wish they could have had more children. I have never heard anyone say they wish they had less. Each new soul is a blessing to the world and a blessing to the family. You think you can’t afford to have another one? I think you can’t afford not to.

Menachem Mendel Bluming, Chabad.org and Rabbi Moss