June 24, 2012

"An economics professor has a plan for raising children: have lots of them..."

"... and don't stress about nurturing their potential."
Bryan Caplan... says that a child is helped the most if they are in a positive atmosphere.

And if they follow that step, Caplan says, parents can relax — and focus on having even more children. Caplan, who teaches at George Mason University, has three children himself — twin 8-year-olds and an infant.
Here's his book: "Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent is Less Work and More Fun Than You Think." There's a big excerpt from the book at the first link, including:
Children cost far less than most parents pay, because parents overcharge themselves. You can have an independent life and still be an admirable parent. Before you decide against another child, then, you owe it to yourself to reconsider. If your sacrifice is only a fraction of what you originally thought, the kid might be a good deal after all.

50 comments:

Tregonsee said...

An interesting view from the "Me Generation."

Ron said...

Maybe if ObamaCare passes, the Guvm'nt can make us have X amount of children to qualify for healthcare!

The Moral Fiber of A Handmaiden's Tale combined with the raw sexual energy of Form 1040!

Woo Hoo Progressivism!

ndspinelli said...

I would take child advice from a econ prof slightly more than from a child develpment prof. I would much prefer advice from a seasoned nanny or parent.

Ron said...

"Close your eyes and think of Obama"

edutcher said...

They can all have paper routes.

Or babysit.

Or something.

Actually, I know a couple of young families on their way to 5 kids.

The real problem is that some people should have no kids. They really are that horrible at raising children.

Of course, one doesn't know until one has a couple.

madAsHell said...

I really didn't have any say in the matter. My wife had her tubes tied without my consent.

It's a war on men. Where's my grievance group??

wyo sis said...

We have 5 children. The oldest turns 39 on Tuesday. The youngest is 17. She'll be a senior in high school. It's always been a struggle financially, but a joy in life. I can't even imagine life without children. They're the best possible reward for living. The 5 grands are the whipped cream and cherry on top! I'll let someone try to explain that in terms of economics or time invested, but I can tell you that no economic formula can place a value on family. I think if you need an economic reason, it'd be better to have pets.

Skyler said...

My wife and I agreed to have three kids, but I'd like to have ten. Unfortunately we can only have one. I love her more than life itself but I can only stand so many tea parties. It would have been nice for her to have a brother or sister to play with. We are fortunate to live on a cul de sac with thirty kids. We just toss her outside and usually there will be someone to play with.

AllieOop said...

Wyo Sis, something we can agree on! Having had my four children and three grandchildren (so far, anticipating more), has been the highlight of my life and continues to bring joy on a daily basis. All the dirty diapers, sleepless nights and mouthy teenagers, all worth it.

bagoh20 said...

I lived with a wonderful woman for 13 years, and together we raised her two children through high school graduation. Then, we mutually decided to go our separate ways without any animosity. Many years later, we are all still very close and good friends.

I'm pretty happy with how it all went in my life, but I consider myself a male spinster, and it would be very cool to have my own grown biological children. It's not eating at me, but I just wish I had.

Raising children seems like a lot to take on, but after it's over, I don't think may regret it. Maybe that's just because I started with the youngest at 4 years old, so I avoided all that poopy stuff. I know, kinda perfect huh?

Chip Ahoy said...

Duggars. I'm mesmerized. And the whole time I'm thinking, o the vagina, the abuse much less the jokes about clown cars.

Today the children are teaching each other how to swim. Six pools are dug in one day, cement poured, filled, area safeguarded and landscaped, everybody run through pool maintenance training, duty roles assigned, lifeguards assigned by the end of the day.

Today the children are making a birthday cake for everybody whose name begins with j. Ha ha ha ha. No really, I'm kidding, no really, for everybody who has a birthday in June.

The boys are building the flour mill now and the girls are gathering 582 chicken eggs, even little Jamaliaita who isn't even born yet.

It is well run better than some armies I imagine but you must be thoroughly loon evidenced by stray children that zip past sometimes on a scooters in a blur in the background and poke up like the photobomb squirrel.

AllieOop said...

Bagoh, you skipped the best part.....not. I think kids are far more enjoyable after they don't poo in their pants and can speak in sentences.

AllieOop said...

Chip Ahoy, don't you start with that, you know.... CLOACA business again. This is a children are beautiful thread after all! ;)

Michael K said...

I used to agree with him. After five kids, I am almost 75 and still paying bills for two of them. Maybe the idea was a great one in 1890, when my grandfather and grandmother had 10 kids to work the farm.

Don't get me wrong, I'm happy with all of them but the utilitarian theory breaks down if you keep having them when you're over 50.

bagoh20 said...

Yea Allie, I stepped right in to where you teach a little 4 year old girl to feed pigeons early on Saturday mornings, and a young boy how to use tools and build things.

Neither one had ever seen snow before, and when we went to Yosemite in winter with 4 feet of it, watching them was incredible.

The boy who at 8 had never gone swimming before snorkeled with me in Hawaii hand in hand for hours. A magical experience for me, and he was never scared to try new things again. I am one lucky spinster.

John Lynch said...

That's nice until you have a child with a lot of problems. Assuming every child is going to be normal is a big assumption.

AllieOop said...

Bagoh, and they are lucky to have you in their lives. Not all men are so invested in the children of their partners, if they are not their biological children, you're a good guy Baggy, my radar says so.

AllieOop said...

John Lynch, you have a legitamate point there, the more children you have the higher chance of having a child with significant problems.

bagoh20 said...

I'm the lucky one. It's really amazing how much people do for each other when they are just trying to experience the world and share the joy that brings. If you can just aim for that simple goal and ignore the rest for a while, it's all worth it. This happened many years ago, and it still makes me smile just thinking about it. I had no idea how important it was at the time.

John Lynch said...

I suppose if you are going to have a bunch of high-IQ children brought up in a good environment it wouldn't be so bad.

Freeman Hunt said...

Children are great, and people ought to have more of them. As far as that goes, Caplan and I agree.

Erika said...

I have four charming children and would dearly love to have a couple-three more, but my husband is thirteen years older than I am and has cried 'uncle.' We're not materialistic and would rather have kids than things, so it's not an issue of not having enough money to give each kid their own room or horseback riding lessons or a dirtbike for Christmas. He's reached the point where he would struggle to have the energy to raise them the way he feels is right.

Also, we weren't using some kind of what's-in-it-for-me calculation when we started our family. From our religious viewpoint, it's a given that children are a precious gift from God, and that having them and giving them a quality upbringing is a privilege and a sacred duty and almost certainly more important than any other work we would assume or other plans we would presume to make for our lives.

traditionalguy said...

Am I having a dream? What made a writer write common sense in the Age of Dilettante's Delusions?

This man must be normal. Thank you God.

Erika said...

P.S. I find it amusing that having a set of twins and then another child seven or so years later is apparently considered a lot of kids. In the circles I run in, everyone has 4-5 kids born two years apart.

Shanna said...

Bagoh, you skipped the best part.....not.

Oh but Allie, that 2-3 year old stage is the cutest of all! The way nephew goes around narrating everything that is going on is the best.

The baby sleeps all the time stage is pretty boring.

AllieOop said...

Shanna, 2 and 3 year olds do have their charming moments, I will agree.

My three year old granddaughter spoke in sentences by the the time she was 18 months old, I so appreciated knowing what she wanted, instead of the screaming fits of the non verbal toddler. Also potty trained fully by the time she was two. ( brag, brag :))

JAL said...

I just have to wonder about that $235,000 or whatever figure to raise a kid news that came out the other day.

Are parents losing their collective minds?

Have kids but feel no obligation to supply them with everything trying to make sure they will be happy and love you.

Best advice I heard (after I was halfway through the project) was there are two questions a kid will ask: "Am I loved?" and "Can I have my own way?"

Best answers are "Yes" and "No."

That's your best shot.

Enjoy.

John Lynch said...

Allie-

My 7 year old still has trouble with sentences. He was 4 1/2 before he was potty trained. I've got a speech therapist, a tutor, an OT, and I ruthlessly exploit every free program I can find. Ultimately, though, there's just something wrong.

I love my son, but I know what having more children would do. He'd get left behind. Parents and schools invest in the kids that are going to do well. At his kindergarten graduation they had a class film. My son, the only student with perfect attendance, was in a few frames. A few kids were most of the film.

That happened to me in school. I wasn't even dumb, just difficult.

I'm happy that many people have smart, well-behaved children. That's not the world I live in. People who live in the upper-middle class high-IQ meritocratic bubble don't understand what it's like when college isn't going to happen.

Background and genes matter. It's not equal out here. I'm not mad about it, but this silly pretense that we all live in the meritocratic elite really bothers me.

AllieOop said...

John Lynch, I have two great nephews that have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum disorder. I believe that's the correct term. My niece whose husband is in the Marines, has good options for therapies and early interventions, which we are very grateful for.

I totally understand your decision to not have more children, it would make things more difficult, no denying that. My niece's son is three now, the youngest of her four children, the older ones are very helpful, but I feel bad for his sibling that is closest to his age, she gets lost in the attention given to the needier child.

Michael K said...

"Assuming every child is going to be normal is a big assumption."

Yes, one of mine had to have two eye muscle surgeries and another is type I diabetic. Still, they are worth every moment of worry.

Thank God, we have had no major problems. Another son was alcoholic for 10 years but he is sober 21 years and doing great.

John Lynch said...

Allie-

Yeah, autism spectrum is what they'd call me now. No one knows what's up with my son. Might be brain damage from birth, might be genetic, no one knows.

What autism does is give me these glimpses of what life is like when you're really smart. Some problem comes up and I can't quite get there. There's a meritocratic system, but it's not for me.

It's very Mosaic.

There's always pizza.

Patrick said...

My youngest turns five tomorrow. What an indescribable joy it has been.

wyo sis said...

I don't think many families get through it without some illness or long term issues. My sister was profoundly deaf. We've had some medical issues. You have my sympathy. It does sometimes feel like the weight of the world comes with children.

Tarzan said...

John Lynch,

I know every situation is different, but from my experience, even the most troubled kids benefit greatly by simply playing and rubbing shoulders with other kids. When other kids in the family are 'doing things' the kids with difficulties can get 'dragged along' (in a good way) rather than simply left behind.

I have twins one of whom looked early on like he was going to be Asperber's. We almost got into the 'early intervention' and all that stuff but we finally decided, let's just love the hell out of him no matter what he is. Years later, turns out he's kind of a high strung (and very affectionate) genius in his own way. I hold him to high standards of behaviour and it isn't always easy, but the challenge has clearly been good for him.

Like I said, I know every situation is different, and I wish you and yours all the best.

Shanna said...

Allie, my two year old nephew talks in sentences and they crack me up because he clearly just wants you to know that he knows stuff so they are little narrations on whatever is going on at the time or we are talking about. 'Fish live in the water, Aunt Shanna.' 'It's dark outside, Aunt Shanna' And so on and so forth. So cute.

My 7 year old still has trouble with sentences.

My cousins son had a lot of speech issues growing up. He used to scream when he was three or so because he just couldn't communicate. He's very smart, though, and his speech is good now, although he may still sound a little off on certain words. He is very physical still (big hugs that are slighty age inappropriate), but my cousin has given him a lot of love along the way. It was very scary at first. Some kids are going to need extra attention.

Shanna said...

I realize that's not the same, of course, and I wish you the best with your son.

Ken said...

Tragonese,

An interesting view from the "Me Generation."

Bryan Caplan is a Gen X'er. Google searches not your strong point, huh?

cubanbob said...

Kids are a gamble. Sometimes they come out with problems, thats life. The decision to have kids really comes down to whether the parents see a positive future.

PatCA said...

I think his message is, stop worrying so much! Don't stop having them just because you can't hover over each of them. The best gift me and my friends got, coming from big Catholic families, was freedom.

A former colleague worked in the twin studies. Believe me, in normal or semi-normal families, nature is probably more important than nurture.

Crimso said...

Well, it just seems like an odd coincidence to me to see this post now. I just messaged several close friends to alert them to the fact that my wife and I are having another one in November. My oldest turns 21 next week. I'm getting too old for this shit. But the wife wanted another, and after three I know what I'm getting into with a fourth. Unless this one is a girl...

wyo sis said...

Crimso
We have had so much fun with our last child. Born when I was 43. Enjoy.

sleepless nights said...

Forget the Supreme Court, I'm all for stacking Congress - or radically reforming it.

Originally, a representative was supposed to be answerable to no more than 30K people. In 1929 they fixed the numbers permanently to 435. Today each congressperson represents approximately 700K people. That's as many people as Alaska has in the entire state which is, of course, why it only has one representative.

That is just insane.

DEEBEE said...

Don;t understand why Octo mom needs a personal economist. A lawyer yes but an economist!?

Anne B. said...

Crimso said:

"...my wife and I are having another one in November. My oldest turns 21 next week."

Congraulations, and enjoy the ride.

I had my fifth (oops! surprise!) child when my husband and I were both 45, and the four older children were aged 9 through 18. The three oldest are more like aunt and uncle to him, but he and his 9-years-older sister are close, despite the age gap.

TMink said...

Not sure where Kaplan gets his ideas, but the research shows that children do best when raised in intact families.

Trey

Crimso said...

I'm thinking we should go ahead and have 15 more. Packing the family.

PatCA said...

Crimos, LOL, but then you'll be severely outnumbered and decisions will certainly go against you.

George said...

Kapln clearly isn't paying for child care.

For one kid we'll end up spending between $60 and $70 thousand before he's in kindergarden. We pay close to what our mortgage is every month.

David R. Graham said...

The P sees nothing important. A man has just so many children in him. Maybe none, or none physical. Maybe ten, maybe two. Varies man to man, and who can countermand the dictates of fate? If he's fortunate, a man joins with a woman who bears the number of children in him. And they are a family, living what fate or providence, however one wishes to see it, provides and making thereby new and fresh fate/providence.

Crimso said...

PatCA
That would seem like a coup, but I'd publically call it a radical change in the way family decisions are made.