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The Forum > Article Comments > Is being a father worth the risk? > Comments

Is being a father worth the risk? : Comments

By Sylvia Else, published 19/5/2005

Sylvia Else argues society should bear more of the cost of marriage breakdowns to encourage us to have more children.

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Bringing up children is quite expensive and if someone only wants to save money then it is best for them not to have children. However this eventually becomes very expensive for society.

I would agree that the incentives for men to have children are not that great considering the statistics relating to relationship breakdown, child contact, child support etc.

About 1,000,000 children in Australia have been effectively removed from their fathers over the last few decades, but the recent announcement from Kay Patterson, the Minister for Families and Community Services should really start to ring some alarm bells.

"I have consistently said that children are better off in a household where parents have a job. Not only do they have more disposable income and access to security in retirement through contributions to superannuation, they also increase their self-esteem.”

This statement needs much thought.

“where parents have a job.” This means both parents, so what happens to the children? They will be brought up in day care centres, then in pre-school, then in primary school, then in secondary school, then in tertiary education, and then finally turned out into the labour market to be just like their parents.

So we have seen enormous numbers of fathers removed from their children under the “no fault” divorce system, and then the fathers made to pay child support based on their “capacity to earn”. In the future there will also be enormous numbers of mothers effectively removed from their children, so that they can earn also.

Like so many fathers, the mothers will not know their children, and the children will be raised by the state.
Posted by Timkins, Thursday, 19 May 2005 11:25:52 AM
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We hve become fat, soft and lazy. Complaining how 'so hard' it is today to make ends meet. And yet our parents did it, with the following:
1. single incomes
2. breadwinner working two jobs
3. twice as many children
4. 50-65% mortgages versus 95% borrowings today
5. high inflation, and
6. without lattes, restaurants, 2nd cars, designer labels for adults and children, a storage room full of barely used toys for the kids, mobile phones, mp3 players, computers, playstations, home entertainment systems, wide screen plasma tvs and a mountain of other consumable crap.

And yet, we have it oh so difficult today. Yeah right... soft heads and an entitlement attitudes breeds such victims of 'hardship'. Victims of choice and the hardship of a life time chasing our tales to fill our houses with more useless stuff.

This article reads like another one of those 'we gotta breed to feed the machine' articles. Produce more worker bees so we can keep this sinking social welfare ship afloat. Reaks of a deeply cynical and utilitarian view towards bringing human beings into the world.
Posted by trade215, Thursday, 19 May 2005 12:13:59 PM
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I am concerned that this article, and many comments in the various forums, seem to suggest that both men and women enter into marriage (and serious de-facto relationships) with the idea that it will break down. This is not my experiance. While many relationships do break up, everyone I know who has married, or intends to marry, or is in a serious relationship, assumes that it will last a lifetime. And while divorce is on the rise, still more people are staying married than not.

Thus, 'lowering the risk to men to have children' seems a little unneeded. Yes, some people are scared of committment. But many others are not.

That said, i do support the idea that more of the core costs of raising children (medical, education etc) should be covered by the state. Children are, afterall, a social benefit. None of us would be here without people deciding to have children!
Posted by Laurie, Thursday, 19 May 2005 4:08:08 PM
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Laurie – agree with your sentiment entirely.

As one who has been twice married twice divorced and with 2 children from the first one, I never entered either arrangement with any other intention of it being a “life commitment”.
If one is thinking it might not be “for life” then the person one is considering marrying –is the wrong person – so better pullout before the children arrive and save everyone a lot of pain.

What we get down to with this article is really in the final line

“Society should be willing to bear a lot more of the financial risk.”

At the risk of being seen as uncouth and vulgar may I be indulged (just this once) and say – “what a load of B*llocks”.

We have moved up and away from the idea that society is the “infinite provider of a social safety net” – not because it is necessarily wrong but the “price” it commands and the repression of individual choice which results is worse than the vagaries of self sufficiency.

I remain father of my daughters, tied by blood and genes. No one else exercised a greater sense of care and concern for their welfare than I and their natural mother, just as I did not consider the welfare of children not my own as any sort of “priority”.
So cut the crap, society does not care – society provides for the lowest common denominator nothing more and nothing better – I wanted better for my children – and hopefully they got it.

Life is a risk – risks surround us and psent themselves at every turn. Remove the risk and you will spend your life working to pay the insurance premiums – with nothing left to “enjoy”.
Posted by Col Rouge, Thursday, 19 May 2005 5:17:08 PM
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Laurie, the people who marry (including starting a long-term relationship) are not the group my article is discussing. It's hardly surprising that such people do not expect the relationship to fail, since if they did, they'd presumably not have embarked on it.

The problem group consists of those who do not marry, and in partcular those who are deterred from doing so because of the downstream financial risk of doing so.

To Timkins et al, this is not about welfare, either now, or in the future. A future retiree's income, whether as a government handouts, or superannuation, is only worth as much as it can buy. If you want medical care, your house painting, your car reparing, or whatever, then you have to pay people who haven't retired to do the work. Those people will be today's children. If there are not enough of them, then the price will go up accordingly.

The essential premise of my article is that society needs more children for its future economic health. If you disagree with that, then the rest of the article is irrelevant.

If more children are required, then we have to determine what steps might be taken to bring that about. The usual strategies are potentially available: threats, promises, persuasion, and inducements.

Of these, threats don't form part of our society, even if credible examples could be thought of. Promises (by politicians) would be laughed at. Persuasion will likely fall on deaf ears. This leaves inducements.

If there are men who would otherwise be willing to have children, but are being scared off by the risks, and it seems clear enough that there are, then the obvious inducement is a reduction of risk.

There's no point in arguing that people should be prepared to have children without extra money provided by society. This is a value judgement, but even if it were objectively true, it wouldn't change my conclusion in the slightest.

Posted by Sylvia Else, Thursday, 19 May 2005 5:55:10 PM
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Hi Sylvia,
I’m not certain whether society needs more and more children, as eventually it will run out of resources. What society does need is a sustainable way of life, and eventually society has to decide what relationships are best for a sustainable existence.

From my personal research, it leads me to believe that long term marriage is the best option for such a sustainable way of life. De facto relationships are often short lived, often lead to welfare, and are not very satisfactory for children.

So “inducements” for long term marriage would be a place to start, and I have thought of what would happen if there were tax incentives for couples to stay married for the longer term (Eg the longer a couple is married, the less tax they pay). If someone does the sums, I think such a system would prove very economic for society.

However the system we presently have does not induce many men to be fathers I believe. There are many barriers and few rewards. In the future I think that there will be many barriers for women to become mothers also, particularly if they are required to work from shortly after the child is born.

For the children, they will not have much of a life if they spend so much time being raised by the state, and hardly knowing their parents. In the past many children have hardly known their fathers, (normally through separation), but this can become the case for their mothers also.
Posted by Timkins, Thursday, 19 May 2005 6:39:56 PM
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