Affording Children

What role does money play in the decision to have children?

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Comments (57)

(57) Anonymous, January 16, 2011 3:07 PM

Don't want to work so much... and have kids in daycare

I did not consider money when I had my first 2 children, and then the reality of having to go back to work (so our electricity would not be turned off) left me heartbroken at having to leave my babies. Staying home was not a possiblity. I really want to have more children, and not getting any younger, but my husband is still in school.... I do not want to have my children in daycare.... I'd rather wait to be in a better position.... after having already going through this not worrying about the money, I learned my lesson...unfortunately

(56) Liat k., July 26, 2010 1:03 AM

Whats more important?

well i think yes its both-in away when people are doing good finacialy then that kid could have more things(candy, toys...)than one who isnt doing so well. Now thats good in away but it also has things that arent so good. the good is that they could always feel happy and spent money a bit more freely. the bad is that that child may not ever know how to do things until they have a home on their own. for example chores like cleaning, cooking..those are the ones who more or less( most likly) are neaded at home than others who dont know how to do anything could be the ones who are sitting by a computer, or DS.. however even if someone is doing fine economicaly, and they do have for example a cleaning lady at home everyday-they will more likly not learn as much, and have less experimence-agree? i think that every child thats brought into this world is a big bracha-its not just any other baby but its a nishama! and we have no idea how this 1 baby could change the world into a tottaly different world! like bringing more people on the derech, becoming a rav-or maby iots not this child but the one that will come out of him!?

(55) Anonymous, July 13, 2010 2:49 PM

Washington welfare mom

Let's recollect back a few years to an unmarried woman in Washington, DC, with close to 20 kids snapped at a Congressman, "When are you gonna get me more housing?" to which he replied, "When are you gonna quit having babies?" Then, she said she was going to have as many babies as God would give her. That wasn't a Rabbi Salomon happy, healthy, financially stable family. That was a disgrace to the world. If you can't even support yourself and insist on having litters and litters of kids, then you're acting highly irresponsible. Atlas is shrugging.

(54) OM, July 10, 2010 9:27 PM

It's hard to say

The impact money has on family size is complex. Right now my husband and I feel that we're not quite ready for another child yet because we have our hands full taking care of our existing children (three of them, the youngest is 8 months old). So our decision would appear to be based on our emotional state (overwhelmed) and not our financial state. But maybe if we had more money, we wouldn't be overwhelmed. Maybe if I didn't have to work - if I could relax in the evenings instead of starting my job, if my husband didn't have to help out so much with cleaning and other chores - things would be easier. Maybe if we could afford things like instant food and cleaning help, we'd be ready for another child already. So is our decision emotional, or financial? I think it's sort of both. I don't think we're so unique. I think there are many couples who would feel they could raise a large family if they had infinite resources, if they never had to clean, cook, go out to work, or worry over finances and could simply be with their children (except when a babysitter would take over so they could get enough sleep). And few couples who would feel they could raise a large family with no cleaning help, no premade food, a tiny house, a minimum 45-hour work week, no babysitter to help out if a parent is sick or exhausted or recovering from birth... etc.... and constantly needing to say "no" to their children or worry about how to pay the grocery bill. Money is almost always a factor, even if not directly.

(53) Anonymous, July 10, 2010 6:54 PM

Yoiu have to be able to feed the kid.

Finances are an issue, or at least with me. After I paid my rent, utilities and other expenses, there wasn't enough left over for food. I managed to subside on potatoes or noodles, but I wouldn't want to subject a child to such hunger. It's not fair.

(52) Marc, July 9, 2010 5:58 PM

read comment #31

I believe a majority of ppl here putting comments are putting money before g-d. I think people are failing to ask themselves what the author of comment #31 is saying - if hashem blesses you with a child (and remember not everyone gets one) do you not think He will ensure that the child is taken care of financially? but i think the question to ask ourselves is more so - do we KNOW that hashem takes care of our finances...down to the penny? AS you read this, ask yourself - do i depend on hashem 100%? does he set my yearly salary on rosh hashanah? when i pray to hashem, does he answer me (even if the answer is no)?....If you have answered no to any of the questions then you have to recheck your emuna in hakadosh baruch hu. If you don't wake up in the morning, thank hashem for everything that you have (even the buttons on your shirt) and ask him for everything that you NEED then you are missing out on everything that judaism is based on. You may have free will to have relations - but to conceive a child is 100% dependent on hashem's will.

(51) Grace Fishenfeld, July 9, 2010 4:09 PM

What Really Counts?

We are blessed. My husband and I have two children. A male who is seven years older than his sister . This was our plan. Two hands, two children. When you cross the street, you can hold one child with the left hand and the other with the right. Our two hands worked together to use our God given talents to develop our skills in order to support those children while we continued to develop our own abilities. We both went back to school to earn higher education degrees, one person at a time.The children enjoyed parents who were not frustrated in their careers. We considered our responsibility to our children, the best thing we could possibly be doing with our time. Now that they are grown and we are grandparents, our nachus in seeing all of them developing their skills and attitudes toward themselves and the community, we realize that we really had four hands . We should have counted better and had four children instead of only two, as our Rabbi suggested.

(50) Chaim, July 9, 2010 3:42 PM

Money is a factor

I agree with Rabbi Solomon, the question isn't, "Is it worth it." but rather, "Do we have to spend so much." However, we cannot deny the importance the amount of stress and suffering a lack of money can cause within a family. Finances is one of the leading causes for argument in a family. Raising a family is not easy, making a living is not easy, putting the two together can create a situation were suffering is present. I agree that there have been people in the past who have had large families and little money and they all coudln't have been happier, I agree that it exists today as well. However, I truly believe that if we're honest with ourselves, the vast majority of people are drastically affected by the amount of money they have and do not seperate happiness from money. It would be nice to assume that most people are not like that, and I know it doesn't have to be true. But when most people can't pay for education for their children, rent on their homes, the cost for utilities, food, and any other normal everyday expense, then we have to ask if it is responsible for us to bring in more children into that situation. If you HONESTLY feel that you are capable of living a stress free life where you won't let these things affect your family life, than by all means, continue having children...but if you can't...then having more kids should be "something to think about" and this does NOT take away from the blessing and thanks we owe to Hashem for the children that we do have. They are mutually exclusive. Somebody could have 10 kids and not recognize the blessing they were given, while another can have one, and thank G-d everyday for the miracle which s/he has been entrusted with developing.

(49) Anonymous, July 9, 2010 11:46 AM

What are your priorities in life...lotsa kids or lotsa money?

Having many children really is a present no money can buy. However, if you earn an average wage be prepared to live very simply. It's possible to get by, without going on big vacations or dining out, by thinking twice before buying will then allow you to focus on just what really is important in life. It's a matter of priorities...a simpler lifestyle so you can afford lots of kids or chosing a costly lifestyle that doesn't leave much money left for also having many kids. If you fill your many kids up with the right values in life they'll never feel the lack. However, if one choses to have many kids and can't even afford to feed their kids, then I think we need to ask how responsible is that of us to do. If it means then that they must become beggars to survive thus shaming their kids, then yes I would think twice before chosing to have a large family.

(48) Anonymous, July 9, 2010 3:41 AM

we have been blessed with a large family , here in israel where finances are not what they are in the U S A and we have had some very tough times with the no word being repeated , often and it hs not been easy but now that some of them are fully grown I have to say , and I know that my kids would say it too. It was worth it.

(47) Anonymous, July 8, 2010 10:30 PM

"The Costs are Real" is so right

We in the US live in a socialist environment where the government will provide for those who can't or won't. But how "kind" is it to bring a child into the world (as in poor countries in Africa) where the parents do not have the resources to provide even the most basics of life? It's cruel. Even in the US, asking the public to take care of your dozen children on welfare is unfair to everyone, most of all, the children. Also that figure of over $200,000 is inflated for buying kids all kinds of junk they don't need. I've seen parents waste good money on what they thought were essentials but were just trying to keep up with the Joneses.

(46) Perel, July 8, 2010 7:56 PM

Please answer

Of course it is!!! It is very important, how are you supposed to feeld your kids? what happened to hishtadlus?

(45) Suzanne, July 8, 2010 5:36 PM

Jewish children in America might be the most expensive children in the world

I certainly take your point that American children may have too much, however, giving an American Jewish child a quality Jewish upbringing is a real struggle in this day and age. Most of this has to do with the cost of Jewish day schools, camps, bar and bat mitzvahs etc. Other than moving to Israel (which is the wisest thing to do) I don't know what the answer is. Maybe home schooling?

(44) Anonymous, July 8, 2010 3:57 PM

Don't purchase more than what you can't afford

That's why most families are downsizing with the exception of the Ultra Orthodox families. Planning a family is a big responsibility as it is marriage. If you shirk from those responsibilities then everything will capsize. Sometimes you have to include practicality in your thinking. Its not always realistic to base your decisions solely on ideals. Yes we should have faith that everything will work out for the best. But there is effort involved to achieve that point. You can't rely on miracles alone. What may perceived to be a blessing can turn into a curse depending on how the situation is handled. Not everyone is prepared to have babies year after year. Some people know that and some naively carry on anyways. I am not trying to undermine the blessing of having children nor am I trying to convey that it should be a burden. I hope to have children one day when me and my husband mutually feel that we are equipped for parenthood in all aspects. Due to our circumstances, its not viable plus we are still newly weds trying to adjust to marriage. Having a baby at this point in time will only be a catalyst to my stress and anxiety. I see couples have multiple children. Mind you most of these parents don't work. They live off off of government fundings. As a tax payer, I have done more to support these children than their parents have. People like these ignore all factors and we end up footing the bill. People who decide to have many kids at our expense can be just as selfish as those who opt to not having children at all. Wonderful concepts doesn't always reflect reality. There is a lot to take into consideration.I'm sure most people would agree that children are worth their investments. But if you are not in the position to support 12 children, rather than rely on financial aide from the government, you should acknowledge situation you are in and chose carefully. We all should be blessed with as many children we can handle and afford.

(43) Anonymous, July 8, 2010 4:28 AM

a gift from god

i am a mother of five children and i am praying that hashem will grant me many much money will a couple be willing to invest in fertility treatments? do you think that $222,360 will be the limit?! after three years of trying to conceive my 1st child i can tell you that children are a true we really need a room for each of our children? or a newer car? how do we set our priorities will make all the difference. its says in the midrash that a child brings his money with him. it is true- my children always get what they need (food, clothing, etc.) the problem is that sometimes we mistakenly take their money and use it for our own needs, so it seems as we do not have enough for them. also, just to remind us- we need to seek an advice of a rabbi when we decide to stop having children. doing the latter without an "heyter" is an aveira. having children is a mitzva. and hashem will never have us do something without giving us all that we need to fulfill it.

(42) Anonymous, July 8, 2010 4:03 AM

Money should never be a factor

Everytime I read comments that criticise large families who do not have loads of money I just get so annoyed and upset. Who are you people? HaShem wants us to have as many children as we can. That "can" is determined by a woman's physical ability to conceive, carry and birth a child and if there are other issues they can only be resolved with a competant Rabbinical authority. HaShem decides how much money you get. Period. When I read some of these comments I think I am reading comments to the LA Times or something. Shame....

(41) Anonymous, July 7, 2010 5:20 PM

The costs are real

It is ironic that the article on Camp by Emuna Braverman is only two selections down from this article. She apparently can send her kids to camp for 2 (!) sessions, and can also afford a cross-continent plane ticket. Although my husband has always earned a salary considered good by the standards of the general community, it was not enough to pay for all the "required" Jewish community amenities (dues, food, simchas, contributions, schooling, and so on). I remember hanging up on a telephone solicitor in tears, as she asked for a contribution to help Jewish kids go to camp, while I choked out, "I wish I could pay for my own kids to go to camp!" And no, we do not have a houseful of electronics or other "toys," and our vacations are almost always trips to see (and be housed by) family. In the end, we did pay for 2 summers of camp for each of our 2 children (1 session only). And in exchange for that, I took on credit card debt that took a few years to pay down. Please don't dismiss the affordability issue so quickly.

(40) Anonymous, July 7, 2010 4:41 PM


My elderly cousin had two children. One died fighting in the Six Day War and one suddenly died when he was 50 years old. She raised her children without parents and really no money and she was advised not to have more. Now, all alone, she regrets not having more. Yes, when you're raising children expenses are high, you will need to take scholarships and come on to other people. But it will pass and then you can pay back (I know people who do) and become a giver - financially. Children are a BLESSING and as we are enjoying my baby's first giggles I tell my older children - we are multi-millionaires. I wouldn't sell any of them for anything! My own siblings are my best friends and I'm blessed to have many of them.

(39) SusanE, July 7, 2010 4:36 PM

WoW that is a lot of money.

$222,000. seems a lot for food and clothing for one child. I think that figure can be easily adjusted by the choices the parents make. Shelter wouldn't be included because the parents already have shelter of their own. School real estate taxes would have to be paid even without children. I am a grown adult and $222,000. over 18 years would serve me very well and I have a few vices and I eat a lot. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ We ARE talking about money here, remember. That's about $12,250 a year for 18 years. You would be spending over $1,000. a month on one kid. What are you buying for the kid! Diapers and baby food for the first couple years, several changes of clothing and the odd toy or baby stroller. Later on it's time for school clothes and a bicycle. Then haircuts and decorating their rooms and entertaining their friends. They eat what you already are preparing for the family, they use the appliances you already have for yourselves. They go along on a family vacations and have weekend fun eating out and movies and parties with friends. They definitely raise your utilities at home a bit, but not $1,000. a month. Two kids $2,000. a month? ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Oh and now that they are 18, it's time to ante up for education. You choose!! Would you rather have 4 new cars in 18 years that are worth nothing at the end of that time, or an 18 year old who you raised to be independent, that needs another $150,000. to go to college?

(38) Anonymous, July 7, 2010 2:41 PM

Noah had no children on the Tevah (and didn't pay tuition)

From this we learn that financial resources are indeed a consideration. whe the world is suffering, it is not a time to have children. This applies to each individual. True, we must have bitachon to even concieve of eating every day. Noone can predict how he will support his family, no matter how small, in the distant (or even immediate) future. However, I think it is important to be realistic in knowing on averaeg what a person is capable of doing. One more word - TUITION!

(37) Hindy, July 7, 2010 2:08 PM

Shidduch crisis, tuition crisis, pick a crisis

The expression man plans G-d laughs couldn't be more true. I am blessed with 5 children, I only planned for the first two, both came ealier then expected and the other three came despite some effort on my part with rabbinic advice and permission. I have manage to feed cloth, and provide for there education, but not equally. Are they worth it, well I can't say which one I would give back. I madly in love with them all, the last one snuck in just under the wire, and just a week after the loss of one of my parents. G-d plans, but, we need a plan. I know need help with tuition, the yeshiva's need help with other peoples tuition, do I push the issue. I will not be sending my kids to camp or my youngest to school because there is not enough money. School is the priority. I am doing the best I can with what we have, but more and more kids would make living a frum live next to impossible. NO boday wants to pay my kids tuition. We need a tuition, educational plan, school have to be more affortable, or asking for help has to be less ubtrusive and more znuit.

(36) Tony Trenton, July 7, 2010 1:31 PM

Bringing other persons into the world is NOT a right but a responsibility

Women in the western world have a choice and therefore the direct responsibility. The monetary price of a child is equal to the cost of a Ferrari 360 It is all about the choices and the inherent responsibilities

(35) Anonymous, July 7, 2010 12:59 PM

Precedent in the Torah

Our Sages teach us that Noach did not engage in marital relations during the Flood because when humanity is suffering it's improper to reproduce. Joseph had his children prior to the famine because bringing children into the world during a time of national hardship/crisis is inappropriate. I wonder why these examples are never used to prove that there are times when holding off on having (more or too many) children is appropriate. To the the fellow who advises to allow the Rabbi to make the decision, I'm with you....provided the Rabbi picks up the tab when the going gets rough.... If he has any "pull" with the tuition committee, this may work... (Then again, that would make you dependent on someone else. Are you willing to sell your dignity out the window?)

(34) Anonymous, July 7, 2010 5:20 AM

That is just the question on my mind...

This has been just the question on my mind lately.Thank G-d I have been blessed with three healthy children, and I would love to have at least one more. But when I think about how much I cannot afford to raise even these three, it makes me wonder why would I have another one? How will I be able to afford the diaper? I am constantly worried about how will I afford tuition, clothes, camp and other expense. No, my children do not need all the toys they have. They will physically survive without them, but they do suffer psychologically and emotionally when I cannot give them what others around them have. I grew up in a home without money, and yes, I survived. However, deep inside I am always wounded that I didn't have what my friends had, and I am not a jealous person. When I ask Rabbies, they tell me that each baby brings his own blessing into the world and I truly believe that. I just pray that Hashem should bless us all with the means to raise our children because getting help from others is terribly embarrassing.

(33) Jack Samuel, July 7, 2010 2:38 AM

Money absolutely matters

I agree with the person who wrote "of course money matters" but I'll go one step further. It pains me to witness increasing number of large families who either live in (or near) poverty or who are hopelessy drowning in debt. It saddens me to see so many such people running around trying to secure financial assistance just to stay afloat. I think it's downright irresponsible to suggest such couples not consider their inability to financially provide for their families when deciding whether or not to have more (than say, 3 or 4) children. If you've been blessed with a few children, but already see that providing for them without heavy dependence on others is nearly impossible, rather than compound the situation and bring more children into the world, why not be grateful for what Hashem has given you and do your best to provide for your family as best you can, on your own? Why is righteous or noble or correct to promote an unspoken but undeniable reliance on "others" (be it government community resources or the charity of individuals) to subsidize every basic expense associated with childrearing from from food, to clothing, to school to camp, to Bar Mitzvahs and weddings etc.? This culture of entitelment denigrates dignity and strikes me as being, not only unsustainable, but unfair, immature and quite un-Jewish. In this day and age to suggest that money (or the inability to earn it) should not be a factor to be taken into consideration when deciding whether to have more (than say 4) children is smug and disingenuous.

(32) bonnie farkas, July 6, 2010 9:24 PM

reality check

with all due respect, Rabbi, financial concerns due play a role. My husband and I (Orthodox) have three grown children b"h, and our lower middle-class status most definitely was a main factor in our decision not to have more kids. Day school tuition, a small, modest home,etc. had to be taken into serious consideration. For us, doing ok by 3 kids was a more sensible decision than more financial hardship with more kids. Unfortunate, but often necessary.

(31) Anonymous, July 6, 2010 7:30 PM

In Response to all responses: BOTTOM LINE IS: ASK

I am unique in that I am coming from an Ultra Orthodox perspective yet I am (unfortunately) not in a position to be having more children yet: the problem with everyone's comments is that it's missing one big factor: seeking daas torah - speaking with a Torah leader/Rabbi who is both sensitive to an individual's abilities, capacities, and needs, while remaining true to G-d's Torah law. Therefore, those who just take birth control because they have made the decision on their own that they cannot have any more kids, or they are not able to begin having children are ignoring the foundation of what has kept our religion in tact this long: the wisdom of our sages. Sometimes a Rabbi will feel that the "modest" expenses of the family are really only "modest" in their eyes and that they should be cutting back on eating out so much or taking the vacations they do. And likewise, other times a Rabbi will see either emotional, financial, or physical reasons why a couple can be permitted to withhold from having more children at the time or for the general future. I think the biggest problem in the Jewish world when it comes to Torah law is that we have been so influenced by the American views of everyone having the "right" to choose to do whatever we want whenever we want, so long as it doesn't hurt anyone. This is why there are non-Orthodox and even unfortunately some circles of Orthodox Jews who put down the importance of seeking Rabbinic advice on the proper Jewish legal thing to do. We have a higher Authority to answer to - Who, by the way, KNOWS much more than we do what's best for us. And the way we can best live up to our Father's expectations and desires for us is by seeking the guidance of those who can best understand His Will, the (Torah true) Sages of our generation. So, bottom line, ask before taking the law into your own hands, and a true, proper Rabbi will guide you in what's best for both you and within G-d's laws for us.

(30) Anonymous, July 6, 2010 6:50 PM

affording children

It would be very nice if everyone who wanted them could financially afford to have as many children as they could. But let's be realistic. My husband and I (Orthodox) have three grown children, and decided against more precisely because we knew that being lower middle-class, it would be a real financial hardship in terms of day school , a very modest-sized home, etc. It's unfortunate, but I don't regret being able to modestly provide for the three wonderful children we did have.Had we had the means, we would certainly have considered having more.

(29) Anonymous, July 6, 2010 6:25 PM

Thank you!

If I would become a mother (I am now almost 41 years old and had not been married until about 2 3/4 years before) I would consider the child (or children?) a gift of GOD - although I see us humans responsible for providing for whatever we are able to for children that COULD join us. BUT I don't consider us humans being perfect - we could even die whilst giving birth or shortly afterwards ... and I think the best we could do is to trust them into the Lords hands (plus, naturally, use the opportunities given at the time of decisions to be made) ... but we should probably trust for the things we can't provide whilst living as well which doesn't mean just the finances - at least as for me there are character traits I cannot serve with and strength I would have to pray for on a daily basis I think. Nevertheless a child is so much more of a worth given from GOD that I don't think we could afford to refuse it. We and our world are far away from being good enough to receive children by the great Creator and raise them properly I think ... but HE has got still some kind of hope into us and very much love ... otherwise HE wouldn't give them I think. Considering some of the comments before, I would like to add that I wasn't able to keep a job in East Germany for a long time because of some unableness to concentrate and so on (there was a very high level of unemployment which has even increased in the last years) but I wanted to get a "correct money" and moved to Austria to cleanse in a hotel - afterwards I stayed for a kitchen-aid job (although I was already trained as an office clerk and an English correspondent then). Meanwhile we married - and the only kind of job I can find here (in West Germany) is to be a kitchen aid or to cleanse again ... but I am grateful: I have experienced so many (also financial) supporting miracles (or "wonders"?) from GOD - although I am not "proper enough" that I would trust for a child as well ... GOD sees the heart of a human is gracious.

(28) Anonymous, July 6, 2010 5:51 PM

very important!

When a couple brings a child into the world with no regard to their finances or ability to bring that child to maturity in a healthy economic environment, they are doing themselves, society, the child, and hashem yisborach NO FAVOR. Without the proper resources, the child will grow up a detriment to society, not an asset. Of course every individual must determine what resources are necessary for their own standards, but some thought must be given to finances before this holy endeavor is pursued.

(27) Mark, July 6, 2010 5:32 PM

What we consider

This is something my wife & I talk about a lot. Not how much kids cost (which, for us, will almost definitely be less than the $222k/child statistic), but how many kids & why. We have three children ages 4yrs to 9mos. We positively want more. But how many more? That's the hard part. Four to five is definite. Though I'm not sure I'm prepared to tread in the water beyond that point. There are really two kinds of questions we're asking ourselves at this point. The first set deal with the impact having more children will have on our children themselves. Questions along the lines of: will we be able to meet the emotional needs of more children; will we have to neglect the children we already have in favor of more children; will we really be able to pass our values on to our children if we have more than 'X' number of kids; will we be able to educate our kids . Ultimately, will we be able to be good parents to more children? The other type of questions we're asking has to do with our own needs as people, not just as parents: will we be able to accomplish the things we want to accomplish if we have 'X' number of kids; will we have a lasting impact on those around us beyond the legacy of our kids; will we be able to pursue our own ambitions? Of course, questions about being able to provide for our kids & ourselves do come to mind. How could they not?! But these questions aren't really at the crux of our decision. God has always provided for us; even though I don't have a college degree I am making more than enough in an expensive area of the U.S. Besides doesn't "Be fruitful & multiply" insinuate at least four kids? Just a thought.

(26) Anonymous, July 6, 2010 5:09 PM

why should we even think such a thing?

The previous comments tend to say that it is unfair for religious families to rely on the government in order to support our decision to have children. Morever, some say that it is unfair to the children to raise them in such poverty. However, who determines what is fair? Hashem! And He gave us the mitzva to have children. We must keep in mind that we are only as wealthy or as poor as Hashem wants us to be and our financial situation definately should not determine our decision to have children. If Hashem tells us to have children and we follow His direction, of course He will help us with everything that we need in order to raise His children, in terms of monetary needs as well as anything else.

(25) Anonymous, July 6, 2010 4:57 PM

I wish I knew

I have two wonderful children - one with mild ADD. He is doing much better and in many ways I would love to add to my family - largely inspired by these two whom I love so much and who have already enriched my life so incredibly. My husband has changed careers and is still finding his feet, while I have worked throughout. I constantly weigh up whether the added joy I know we will get from another child will be enough to outweigh the additional stresses that I know will come, financial and otherwise. Perhaps I should leave well enough alone? I wish I knew the answer. but I suspect a well thought-out decision will be required, not too mention an even bigger act of faith! Has anyone else faced a similiar dilemna?

(24) Beth, July 6, 2010 4:53 PM

Responsibility is the key

There is a big difference between wanting to have a nice life and affording basic necessities like decent food. I know of several frum families and non-Jewish families who have children without thought. The children are slightly malnourished and it’s just plain irresponsible to continue bringing children into a family that can’t afford enough food. It’s time for rabbis to encourage families of 4-6 kids rather than 8 kids. It’s the parents’ responsibility to support their children, not the states’ or other peoples’. Unless you have the means to provide decent, healthy food for all the children, it is irresponsible and selfish to continue bringing more into the world.

(23) Anonymous, July 6, 2010 4:21 PM

Who's paying?

A better question is how much YOU want to pay for other people's children who can't afford to support their large families. What is the parental morality of having lots of children that other people have to support? Also, lets expand that question and ask about the morality of having lots of children when the father has no plans to work because he wants to study in a yeshiva full time. How many children should you have when your only income is from state subsidies and/or private charity?

(22) david h, July 6, 2010 4:15 PM

w/ tuition starting @12k p yr for a 4 yr old...

There is no doubt that Hashem will not bring a child in to this world hungry. I know from my own story that having my first and only child (so far B”h) how much of a Beracha Gd has given me. But you’re question is a strong question that I’m sure everyone in my community answers with a strong yes. Our tuition starts at about 12k for a 4 yr old. It goes up to nearly 30k by the time they are in high school. My x-partner has 5 kids, 4 of which are in a yeshiva, his tuition is over $100k pr yr (his baby isn’t there yet). How much money do u need to make (pre tax) to cover just your tuition bill? That’s without vacations, clothes, food, entertaining the children, camp etc. Rabbi, respectively, how can the answer to your question be NO? I hate to have this answer, but the reality of where we live; our tuition bill is our birth control.

(21) Anonymous, July 6, 2010 3:44 PM

let's not be simplistic

Even orthodox Jews are cutting down on the number of children they have these days. It's not that many Jews are looking for richer, more material-filled lifestyles; it is because the costs of raising children in terms of housing, health care, clothing, food, extra-curricular, & DAY SCHOOL TUITION are prohibitive. The process of meeting with day school tuition committees is emotionally humiliating & parents still must cough up more than they can afford. Parents wind up working long hours, often at more than one job, in the desperate race to keep up & give over the care of children to babysitters. Too often, parents only come home in the late evening, leaving very little if any time for quality or quantity care of their youngsters. That means almost no time if any for family meals, help with homework, or any of the other important & worthwhile activities that make up the experience of good & responsible parenting. Then, when summer comes, & parents are still at work & therefore require organized care of the children, via day or sleepover camps or the like, the expenses continue. The stresses & unhappinesses that this brings upon the family are destructive in big & small ways, and go on for years. There are fortunate families who have excellent incomes and can pay for the BASIC expenses & some to many extras as well. These do not represent the majority of Jewish families in the 21st century. I venture to say that most educated Jewish people do not ever want to go begging for others to cover the expenses of their families. So there is a very real problem here. How do we continue to build our Jewish communities by bringing Jewish children into the world AND make sure that the very real needs of these children & their families are met in wholesome, dignified ways? I am sorry, Rabbi, but, sadly, you did not offer solutions. Final point: I know because I have lived the story.

(20) ruth housman, July 6, 2010 3:44 PM

there is nothing more precious than a child

What do I, did I think about? I thought about the world, and I think if everyone has a LOT of children, the world cannot sustain this, and if you think about this, you might come to the same conclusion. I am talking about quality of life, and I am talking about the need to think about each other. I think yes, some people do think about resources, and they might think about it in a slightly different way. But I think it's valid to consider money, to consider finances, when it comes to a LOT of children. Some cultures have many children because most do not survive. We all know this. Some people have children to fill a hole in their own lives that cannot be filled without personal work and often, those children suffer. I believe children are the most valuable resource the world has, and I also believe in being able to care for these children. Not everyone is a rabbi, and some people are struggling for every dime, and they have a right to want their children to eat properly, to have a good education, and to be able to given them a modicum of decent clothing and care. There are myriad considerations in having children. I think be fruitful and multiply, as in all statements, has its codicils. And yes, a beautiful family, of many children, all beloved, is also a blessing, but be careful because life is lived with many many considerations and do not judge. I do not judge except to point out, we need to consider also, the world, in these decisions. Once a child is born, that child is, precious.

(19) Leora, July 6, 2010 3:24 PM

You have to temper idealism with reality

children are a tremendous blessing--no words can do justice to that. but real life is real life. If finances are stressed, parents have to know themselves. Some can strengthen their emunah, be happy and raise happy kids--and, who knows, maybe win the lottery. Others will leave their kids with memories of exhausted, gloomy, anxious parents, parents with no time for their marriage and no time for their kids, and it's not fair to the kids.Some parents work extremely hard, but don't work in a high-paying field, and things just don't go so smoothly. How about an article saying that the Jewish comunity should work harder to take care of its own, that wealthy people with fewer kids (or many) should become ever more aware of the struggle many are going through and donate as generously as possible. How about helping solve some of the problems of real life instead of repeating a completely obvious truth about the inestimable value of children?

(18) Anonymous, July 6, 2010 3:12 PM


NO:11 gave me something to think about. How many welfare cases would we approve of? Like all public spending, everyone has their own ideas what is worthwhile and what is wastefull. What could be more wothwhile than encouraging and helping maintain a normal family life that can produce many well adjusted and productive children(citizens). Children from large families are often more well adjusted as they have to learn to share and get along with each other .

(17) , July 6, 2010 2:37 PM

Cost of Children

It's the wrong question. Worth is not the issue. It's having the money to afford to buy clothes, food, medical expenses, schooling, summer expenses (camp, etc.) and other issues that cause one to pause before adding a child to the family mix, plus reducing income expenses if a parent has to stay home or hire a homemaker to be available to provide care for the child. Those the the factors that make one pause or delay bringing a child into the world, let alone multiple children. It may be "worth"' it, but you have to have the means to do it before you can appreciate the benefits to you and your child. Nobody wants to raise a kid knowing they'll be deprived of a decent standard of living whether by the parents' standards or in comparison to other children with whom they will grow up in the community.

(16) Anonymous, July 6, 2010 1:49 PM

Of course money matters

I'm an Orthodox Jew with 4 children and I'm in complete disagreement with him on this. Why have so many Jews become dependent on welfare, in the US, Europe and Israel? It seems the more Orthodox they are, the larger the families they have, the more they need government assistance. Why all the charity programs? Why all the poor men coming around to collect for themselves because they don't have the earning capacity for their large families? What about the massive debt carried by so many religious families because their lifestyle is simply unsustainable? Are you doing a child a favor when it is being born into abject poverty? I doubt it. Now, if it comes down to a choice between living a life of luxury and having fewer children vs. a modest lifestyle with more, then I agree that we have an obligation to forgo the luxury lifestyle and have the children. But a modest income earner who brings too many children into the world, will find himself short of funds which = debt which = stress which = the potential disintegration of his marriage (the second highest cause of divorce) and ultimately a ruined life. So I would not advocate limitless children. Common sense must prevail in this arena as well.

(15) Anonymous, July 6, 2010 1:47 PM

Not so simple

I think you're being unrealistic, Rabbi. For someone who has no education and is working a minimum wage job, having multiple children means welfare. I know several families who think that their contribution to the world is raising Jewish children, yet the values they're passing onto their children (that being Jewish is enough, let others support you) is what is going to ruin our society. The $200,000 figure of rearing a child is ridiculous. It doesn't have to cost that much at all. However, if one refuses to support his children and thinks it is society's job, then that person is not the kind who should become a parent. I live in a part of the country where a large number of people are on welfare, and I'm really sick and tired of having to support them. You, Rabbi, are completely different. You are educated and intelligent and are the kind of person who should have many children! However, if a person is not willing to put forth the effort to support the children, then that person has no right to have children.

(14) Anonymous, July 6, 2010 1:09 PM

Kids R' Great

With 12 children @ $222,000/child, I realized we spent almost $3 million! That's a lot of bucks. Never knew I was so wealthy. Thanks Rabbi Salomon. You - and G-d - made me a wealthy person.

(13) JHK, July 6, 2010 12:58 PM

"Affording" children

All is a gift from Hashem. Children & the money to raise them is included in that. Our own efforts to provide for our children and their development is essential since we are not supposed to rely on miraculous Providential support. I think that Rav S.R. Hirsch's view on "p' ru u'rvu" (be fruitful and multiply) should be reviewed by more people who have many children but not always the financial or physical means to properly care for them and raise them with the right Jewish values, education, financial and emotional support. To rely on the charity of others or the support of the Government when planning a family should never be a consideration. Rather than think of how nice it would be to "have a child", think about how important it is to RAISE a child. Consider the emotional, physical, and yes, financial burdens that we accept when we take on the responsibility of raising our precious children.

(12) Anonymous, July 6, 2010 12:37 PM

Children are our most special pride & joy!

I have always loved children since I was a teenager and could not wait until I could have my own some day. After going through my ups & downs to finally get married and become FRUM, I really thought I would have a nice size family with 2 - 4 kids. Well, we managed to have one adorable daughter and truly love her so much. We do have financial problems because we don't have a real support system through family or friends. However, we earn whatever living we can with all our skills and missions that Hashem leads us onto. But after having 6 miscarriages and wanting another child, which did not come through. I am starting to understand why Hashem did not grant us our wish to have more kids. We really seem to be a couple that needs to work and suffer in order to live happily ever after. It is hard, but we are hanging in there! But no MONEY should never be a reason not to have any children. Be happy to have a decent size family if major finances are a problem, but don't ever let go of your ability to have children that can bring great Torah values down to the next generation. They are our pride and joy for life! Love your children and don't worry about MONEY to the extent that leads you into infertility or frustrations.

(11) Anonymous, July 5, 2010 8:34 PM

welfare recipients

If you were on welfare would your view of having nine children be altered in any way? Do you think society would condone this approach to life? Be Fruitful and Multiply? That is something to think about.

(10) Ephraim, July 5, 2010 6:31 AM

Money was not the determinative factor - it's a tool, nothing more.

I'm a writer by trade, and my wife works as a manager in women's apparel, so my family isn't exactly independently wealthy. With an 8-year-old son, we have our share of expenses, like most families. Fortunately, with G'd's help, we've always managed to scrape by. We've recently been blessed with the news that my wife is pregnant with our second child, but rather than worry about expenses, we agreed that in being blessed with another child, we would find a way to manage our finances, just as we always have. To us, that's really all that matters - "How much better would we be able to eat?" isn't what's important here, and never was.

(9) Anonymous, July 5, 2010 2:14 AM

a gift from Above

each child is a gift from H-shem and just b/c the money isn't there when thinking about having kids doesn't mean it won't be there when they actuallly arrive. but i must say, tuition is such a large chunk of our income there is barely enough for a/t/e.. is there a way to do s/t about the tution crisis?? maybe pple would have more children if they weren't so concerned about paying for yeshiva education? any suggestions? for pple who are blessed to have children though, how can we allow money to be a deciding factor???H-shem always comes through!!

(8) Anonymous, July 5, 2010 1:55 AM

Depends on your goal in life

As Jews, we do not focus as much on the physicality of this world as we do on our purpose here. Our purpose is to serve Hashem and perpetuate the Torah for generations until Moshiach comes. If my goal in life is to do as I mentioned above, then it does not matter how much it costs to raise a child. I will forgo some of the things that money could buy me in this physical world in order to have children who will carry on the Torah after I have left this world. However, if I do not believe in the goal of perpetuating the Torah, then the question of whether it is worth giving up physical comforts to raise a child. After all, if this world is it, I want to get the most out of it and giving a significant sum of money to another person will decrease my ability to enjoy this world.

(7) Yocheved, July 4, 2010 10:57 PM

Right on!!

I'm sure this question was (or could have been) thought about by the parents of Galileo, Einstein, Washington, Maimonities, Bach, Aristotle, and countless other great people among others. Every single individual has limitless potential to become the greatest person to ever live. Who knows what your child can become? Aside from the tremendous pleasure gained from each precious child, imagine the impact one person can have on the world. Every human being can change the world. And even If that child doesn't change the world, he/she can influence others or have children who will have an impact. Everyone on this Earth has a mission that is always fulfilled, no matter how small or big. Money? It doesn't compare in the least to souls. Unless there isn't enough food to put on the table, or there is a severe problem, don't stop bringing precious mini-worlds into our large one.

(6) anonymous, July 4, 2010 9:47 PM

yeshiva tuition is a biggest birth control

Unfortunately, today a lot of families are cutting down on the number of children because of yeshiva tuition costs. So, Rabbi Solomon, why don't you present this question to the big Rabbies that supposedly are watching out for Jewish growth, protecting Yiddishkeit, & making sure that yeshiva tuition does not serve as a birth control.

(5) rachel, July 4, 2010 2:48 PM


From experience ,we have seen that the blessing of a child comes along with the blessing of means to bring them up properly. We haven',t tried to do the math but somehow we have been able to provide each child with their individual needs. There are parents that say they can't afford therapies or extra lessons for their kids but we gave our kids what they needed without hesitation and Hashem helped us finance things as we went along.

(4) chava, July 4, 2010 1:44 PM

children vs money: no comparison at all! :)

I have 4 children and 2 foster children...although I am a professional, I stayed home much of the years the children were small. My husband made a steady and good, but moderate salary. I don't know how much it cost us...doesn't matter. By the standards of the 80's even, I guess we shouldn't have been able to " afford" those beautiful children ( who are now all grown )....I'm awfully glad we didn't listen to the " statistics"!! We lived in a small town, nice middle-class neighbourhood and house. No frills living for sure, and we counted pennies many , many times....but the joy of the children, and the privelege to share this beautiful life with them...there is absolutely no comparison!!

(3) Alan S., July 4, 2010 12:34 PM

The reality of the world today is that it does take money to properly rear a child, and it should be the sole obligation of the family to provide properly for the child. Of course, the operative term here is "properly", and while everyone may define this word differently, we hopefully can all agree that a major factor in deciding whether or when to have children is making sure that the parents/family are able to afford at least the very basics in raising a child healthfully. While everyone can agree that a child is truly a gift from HaShem, there should be little controversy over the fact that 1. the parents/family should be able to raise the child, not only spiritually, but financially according to their means. And 2. that parents/family should not have children with the idea in the back of their minds that the state (or gov't entity, whatever) will have to contribute toward their upbringing.

(2) Rosen, July 4, 2010 12:16 PM

paying back our parents

When taking into consideration how much at least 1 child costs, since we are all sons and daughters of parents, as well as Hashem, there comes a point where we owe it to them by paying them back, ergo why one of the Ten Commandments is "Thou shalt honor thy father and mother." So, as someone who is past the age of 18, I do attempt to pay my parents back as much as I can whenever needed such as paying them back for just about every montly cell phone bill, car expenses, and taking over bill payments that my folks used to pay such as student loan payments and car insurance.

(1) Anonymous, July 4, 2010 9:04 AM

Cost of Jewish education in USA doesn't leave much for anything else

$220,000 plus a bit? If we assume that a Jewish education costs approximately $10,000 per year per child, that doesn't leave a lot for everything else. Of course, everything else usually costs less per child as the number of children rises. One good way to lower the costs is to make aliyah and lower substantially the cost of education. Of course, salaries are also lower, so maybe that doesn't doesn't help financially. But spiritually and in the other imprtant ways --- nothing could be better!


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