In uncertain modern times, the young generation grapples with questions like whether to have children or not? Or is it safe to have another child?
To start a family and have a child of their own is probably one of the most common goals for human beings. While it's not that difficult to have one, to be able to provide and maintain a quality healthy life for your kid and family is a totally different story. Within every generation, it's safe to say that parenting has never been easy. But today if you ask millennial or younger parents, many may tell you that grandma and grandpa were much more fortunate to be parents during the good old days. The pandemic, the negative effects of climate change and pollution, mental health, and especially the significant unemployment rates and financial difficulties cause much distress. The present world has proven that they have it much harder now than previous generations can imagine. Sure, some will say that finances should not be a determining factor in whether or not you have kids. In fact, many families don't have enough money in the bank to justify having kids but they decide to have them anyway.
A friend of mine who's living in Bangkok got married a few years ago, right around the time before the Covid. He and his wife decided to have a baby together right away. At the time, they certainly planned that they'd have more than one. But today, after surviving the Covid crisis and some career changes, they both are very clear that their two-year-old daughter may never have a sibling. The couple can offer their first child a pretty good standard of living. But after some calculations, they said things would go down significantly if they added any more kids. It's in part a financial decision. Even though they both have jobs and steady salaries, when incomes are combined, childcare is still a struggle. Saving in any significant way is impossible. And work from home parents are constantly multi-tasking and juggling, which comes along with a whole new level of guilt and exhaustion. And much like many young marriages out there, there's doubt about the future.
So before you jump into parenthood, maybe you should first ask yourself if you can truly afford the cost? Are you really in a position to provide? There are so many factors that you need to consider to help determine if you're ready and can really bring that bundle of joy into the world.
According to the Ministry of Public Health and the investment management department of Krungsri Bank website, during the onset of pregnancy up to the first three years of age, parents should, on average, prepare around 150,000-250,000 baht per year. The cost of antenatal care and seeing a doctor is about 1,500-2,000 baht per month. The cost of giving birth is in the range of 30,000–60,000 baht, depending on the package you choose. There are two types of childbirth -- natural birth and caesarean section. If you decide not to give birth at a more expensive private hospital, it shouldn't cost more than 100,000 baht in a period of nine months. If the parents have social security, they should be able to recoup some of the cost.
Later on there are tuition fees. And there will be ongoing expenses as well. During kindergarten until the end of primary school, children have to study for at least nine years from pre-kindergarten. The total cost of studying in a government school is maybe not much, but if your children need to attend a private school, you will have to pay more. It will be even more expensive for both primary and secondary schools. The average tuition per year for nine years is around 20,000–50,000 baht, over for nine-10 years is around 200,000–500,000 baht. Moreover, families should have life insurance and at least 12 months of emergency funds to cover expenses. This ensures that in the event of loss of income, your family is able to continue living without financial need until you find a new job. Planning in advance will help you understand the current and future situation. Is there enough money to cover upcoming expenses? One should know how to invest excess money in order to generate additional income.
In this uncertain time, these are only the first few things you should be planning carefully before deciding to have children. It is the responsibility and burden that every parent has to face in building a family to be able to provide what is best for your child. It sounds really nice to say love is enough, but being responsible parents is necessary too.
Tatat Bunnag is a feature writer for the Life section of the Bangkok Post.