"They shouldn't have had kids if they couldn't afford them"
Someone recently posted this picture on Facebook.
Now it is possible that this could, at a stretch, be seen to be promoting the benefits of providing free contraception to vagina people all over the world so as to help them avoid unwanted pregnancy and thus enable them to work more and avoid poverty. At a really huge stretch.
This sentiment I mostly agree with; people should absolutely have unlimited, free access to contraception. Not only can contraception reduce the risk of pregnancy to about 1%, but barrier contraceptives also help prevent the spread of STIs, and hormonal contraceptives can help with diseases like endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome. Allowing people control over when they have kids means they can focus on what matters to them, like hobbies, their own health, their career, their education, helping the community, and a myriad of other excellent things. It also allows people to wait until they are stable in their careers, living situations, mental health, relationships and incomes so they can best look after any offspring that they have.
Here are a few thoughts on parents who ask for help:
1) For so many people this is the hardest thing they will ever do. Most of us have independence drilled into us from a very young age, telling us that we need to be self sufficient and not rely on others for help. If you ended up in a situation where you did need to ask for help - it would go against everything you were ever taught. You would be moving through acknowledging that you have become what society constantly tells you is awful, unacceptable, and worthless. To ask for help when their kid's health depend on it is sometimes people's only option. They could have tried everything else you are judging them for not doing. The system isn't perfect and people do fall through the cracks.
2) You have no idea how those kids happened. It could have been rape, it could have been coerced, it could be because of a deeply ingrained religious belief, it could have been someone dying and leaving the children with the only person that would take them.
3) You have no idea what forms of contraception they were using or what they had access too. Accidents happen, no contraception is 100% effective.
4) You have no idea how much they were taught about contraception how it works. A huge portion of the world's population doesn't have access to contraception, and many countries still make this education challenging to find due to religious or cultural beliefs. This is not the fault of the person with the child.
5) Contraception, in most places, is not free. People who have no money will often not be able to afford it, couple that with a lack of awareness or religious beliefs pushed through their whole lives and how the heck can you reasonably expect people to just GET contraception?
6) You have no idea what their financial situation was like when they first fell pregnant. They could have been in a stable 2 earner relationship, perfectly able to afford a child or three. Circumstances change.
7) You have no idea what options they contemplated once they discovered they were pregnant. Abortions are an option for some people who happen to live in countries/ communities /families /cultures that don't demonise people for making this choice with their own bodies. Many countries also just don't have this available in a safe way.
The only thing I can see that we really need to think about here is ensuring that we don't ignore the fact that some people just really want to have kids, regardless of their financial state. This is really not something that you should be judging or insulting. People who have children expecting the state to look after those kids are still people. Their kids had nothing to do with that either, so absolutely none of your judgement should fall on them. The parents may have different values to yours and see things quite differently, but there is a reason for the way they see things. Everyone is a consequence of their upbringing, and there is a reason that the cycle of poverty exists.
If you don't want your tax dollars spent on putting food in hungry kids' bellies then instead of bitching about it - go make sure that people really do have access to methods of preventing pregnancy, as well as ways of getting out of unemployment and poverty.
Write to your local politicians, attend marches and events in favour of global free contraception, and be supportive of education reforms that will help people make informed choices. Support the introduction of mature learner education programs for people who want to get back into the workforce. Support free childcare so people have a safe space to leave their kids while they work to earn a living.
We are all people, we all deserve respect, and we all need a bit of help sometimes.