Picking up Nickels

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Are children a status symbol?

Is having a large family the newest way of keeping up with the Joneses? Back in May (before I started this blog), the Boston Globe Magazine had a memorable feature on well-to-do families in Wellesley, Massachusetts who are having a large number of children: Full House.

"For some people in Wellesley," says Goldston, "having four kids has become the new status symbol, like having a luxury SUV. It says you can afford it; you can have a nanny to help you out."

"People in this town like to have a lot of kids, but they don't necessarily like to raise them by themselves." Morris's husband would like to have a fourth, and seeing so many bigger families around her, she's felt some pressure to try to keep up. "If all your friends are having four, does that make you more likely to do it? Absolutely." But after having three kids in three years, she feels she is just starting to get her life back under control.

As a parent, I found this trend slightly disturbing. Why focus on people who consider children to be as much of a status symbol as an expensive home, a fancy SUV, or a Rolex watch?

I can't begin to imagine how hectic life is for the families in article with 6 or 8 children. How do you raise such a large family without a staff to help with cooking, cleaning, childcare, and transportation? Good grief, is that a healthy environment for a child to grow up in?

I can certainly relate to the joys (and hardships) of being a parent. However, having four children just because your friends do is just plain irresponsible. Although it is an affluent town, it sounds to me like Wellesley is full of Big Hat, No Cattle residents as described in The Millionaire Next Door.


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