This alone should motivate us to ensure no child or mother is in poverty. Beyond that, even in the best circumstances, having children costs money. Economists estimate the cost of raising a child born in 2013 to adulthood, today’s toddlers, will cost their parents about $245,000 or a quarter of a million dollars. Per child. Not including college or helping them with rent as they struggle through their twenties (or increasingly, their thirties). Not including any extra expenses in case of disability or serious accident. It’s no wonder in a climate of low wages and high expenses most parents are struggling.
Now a lot of the objections to federal support of parents comes from prudish and racist sexism. Opponents of adequate parental welfare conjure images of sexually promiscuous Jezebels, of wild and unruled women who need a man to obey, of depraved and addictive, neglectful and abusive mothers. They employ racism and classism against “unworthy” mothers to garner support for inflicting poverty on others. Fathers and nonbinary parents are erased.
Under the current system, a woman is deemed more sexual, and thus less maternal under a strict madonna/whore framework. The more children she has, and therefore the greater her financial need, the more detestable she becomes. If she is a woman of color, especially a black woman, her children are not seen by white politicians as blessings and human beings, but as proof of her sexual sin. Mothers with children from two or more fathers are particularly hated, even though each of these women signifies multiple men who are failing to provide or parent. Those men get to bail on social judgment as easily as they bailed on their kids.
Yet, wealthy single mothers are tolerated. And if a mother can safely and successfully receive ample child support from the non-custodial parent, society permits her to likewise escape the intended punishments for divorce and consensual sex. Jut as society grants abortions to women with the time and means to get increasingly inaccessible care while condemning poor women to forced pregnancy or dangerous self attempts, society saves its sexual punishment for “errant” women who are poor, and for their children.
While they imagine they are advocating for sexual morality by economically punishing women for having sex outside of marriage or seeking to dissolve marriages, what politicians, preachers, and pundits are actually advocating for is a type of soft eugenics. Don’t have children if you’re poor or disabled or black. Don’t have children if you can’t afford time away from the capitalism machine.