One of my former high school classmates recently posted something on Facebook about our 20 year reunion coming up (man, time flies doesn’t it?), and I started to wonder what the lives of many of my former high school classmates was like now. I am friends with a number of them on The Book, so I started to just look through some pages and get a sense of how their lives were (I know this isn’t a true indication, but it’s all I had to go on for now so…). What I started to notice was that many of them still lived in the same area in which we grew up, and I couldn’t help but to wonder WHY that was the case. From my memory, there was little to nothing to do there, and I remember being excited to get as far away from there as possible. I started looking at the few people who got away from the small town and were living in bigger cities, and invariably experiencing bigger things, and I started to notice a bit of pattern. What I recognized was that everyone who remained in our small home town area of Clinton, NC all had one thing in common; they had a child (or children) at a young age. Now, they weren’t super young like 16 or anything, but many of them had kids who were now between the ages of 10-16, so one could easily do the math to know all of them had them before they were 30. When I cross-referenced them with the few individuals who were no longer in the area, I noticed that many of them either didn’t have kids or waited until AFTER 30 to make this decision. There seemed to be a direct correlation between this decision and the ability to get out of my hometown, and I think I know why. If you are under 30 and think about having kids, please read this blog and give it a second thought because of these three reasons.
I. YOU’RE STILL GROWING YOURSELF
I think one of the biggest jokes in the world is that you are legally considered an adult at 18 years of age. When I was that age, I remember thinking how smart I was and how I was going to take over the world. Now that I’m almost 20 years removed from that time (I’ll be 38 next May), I openly laugh at how ignorant I was and how much stuff I had NO CLUE about in regards to life and what it truly takes to be successful. And I say that knowing that I was more precocious than many of my peers at that time, but also with the wisdom of being able to look back and catch how much easier my life would’ve been had I made better decisions (I decided to not attend UNC-Chapel Hill because my ex-girlfriend was there and I thought I would run into her all the time. Yeah, on a campus with 20,000 people. Geez!). It was probably only until I reached the milestone age of 30 that I truly had the wisdom and experience that comes with time to be able to even consider taking on the momentous task of raising a child. And while I still don’t have any because I made the decision that this was not what I wanted for my life, I could only image how difficult and confusing my parenting would have been had I tried to raise a child and teach her/him the ways of the world while I was still trying to figure them out for myself. This is why you see the epidemic of kids who are growing up with parents who truly have no sense of how to guide them. Therefore, the kids end up being raised by the television (watching stuff that they shouldn’t have access to) or their friends in school (learning stuff they shouldn’t be learning at a young age). The sad other side of this is that since the parents are thrust into such responsibility at such a young age, they are then forced to enter the world of “action and reaction” that becomes a endless cycle of only working to “get by.” They are not able to invest in themselves and take the time to reflect to grow into a more insightful and strategic person. They are so focused on staying on the hamster wheel to pay for daycare, diapers, and Pedialyte, that they don’t have the time, energy, or money to do anything other than just survive. And it’s this huge lack of this last thing that brings me to my next point.
II.FINANCIALLY, YOU ARE NOT READY
Unless you’re some famous actor, athlete, or tech startup Founder, the chances of you having the financial capital to truly support a child before the age of 30 is highly unlikely. Kids are expensive. CRAZY expensive. It has been estimated that the cost of a child from birth to the age of 18 is $233, 610. And this doesn’t even include college. Many people think having a kid is only about having an extra mouth to feed. Maybe a few extra hundred dollars a month. Many don’t consider the cost of day care, pampers, and just overall healthcare that comes with ensuring that a new human brought into this world is properly taken care of at all times. It is an enormous expense to the tune of 12-14k per year. And this is being conservative. If you’re one of those parents who want your kids to be SUPER fly by parents want to these days and want them to have the absolute BEST clothes, child care and education, then that number could balloon up to 25-35k per year. Being someone who waited tables at night as a high school English teacher and remembers dodging the collection companies calls because I didn’t have the money to pay off the debt I racked up in college, I couldn’t imagine having to support another human being when I was barely making it supporting myself. However, for some strange reason people don’t think this is going to be a problem. They say things like “God will find a way” or “I’ll make it work.” And they often do, but it often comes at the expense of the last reason you shouldn’t have a child before 30.
III. YOU HAVEN’T EXPERIENCED THE GLORIES OF THE WORLD YET
I have a favorite quote on a map of the world in my bedroom that reads “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page.” It’s by the philosopher St. Augustine, and I’ve tried to live my life by this. I’ve experience so many things that has changed and shaped me into the person I am today by having the ability and flexibility to be open to where the universe is leading me. Since I don’t have any kids, when I wanted to make a decision to relocate or travel to some city or just do ANYTHING at a last minute’s notice, I could. When you decide to bring another person into this world, that flexibility COMPLETELY goes out the door. And while some people don’t quite get that (like this Iowa mother…truly unbelievable story), most people just get to the point that they are resigned to accept it and lead lives of “quiet desperation” in which “they love their kids and wouldn’t trade them for the world” but at times still become depressed when they look at how much they are missing out on because of it. The dreams and desires they had as a kid of living a life like the people on television are still just that…dreams and desires…while many others who didn’t have kids before 30 have actually lived the life they wanted to growing up and became these people. It’s interesting because as I look at the comparison of the development of the two groups (no kids before 30 versus kids before 30), I often see the decline in what some would deem physical attractiveness in the kids group and an ascension of this in the other group, which includes what many would’ve considered “ugly ducklings” in high school. It would be interesting to see how these two groups would interact now since many of these “ugly ducklings” wouldn’t have received a second look from the other group in high school. Actually, this sounds like a good enough reason to go the reunion, so perhaps we’ll see…
Ken Middleton is the President/CEO of Canei Consulting, LLC, a FREE college consulting practice that is focused on giving our young people the advice we all wish we had to navigate our college careers. If interested in his services, please click here to review the website and contact him. You can also follow his quotes of inspiration and motivation on Facebook, LinkedIN, and Twitter. To see his personal side, you can also follow him on Instagram at @kenmmiddleton because (contrary to Drake’s opinion), I’m trying to get my dollars AND followers up. 🙂