4.07.2008

Are Large Families Status Symbols?

Did you ever think having three or more kids would make you a show off? Would you consider your third born a luxury item? According to an article in the Washington Post, many people, especially in metropolitan areas, would think just that. Especially with gas prices, large luxury SUV's are soooo 5 years ago, so now kids are the new accessory for the wealthy.

The article explores how people with multiple children are now often seen as being ostentatious, depending on their geographic location. It sites the $200,000+ average cost as the reason why so many see larger families less as a loving family unit and more as a display of wealth.

Everyone knows how expensive kids can be, but they don't have to be. I think rampant commercialism, and the particularly susceptible parent-child relationship are what make kids appear to cost a fortune. Parents want to give their children everything they can, and the media is brainwashing kids into thinking they need the latest and greatest of everything, and often times the kids prevail in the battle of need versus want. That is where kids get so much more expensive than the essentials and possibly why children are often viewed as a display of wealth.
Via washingtonpost.com

And yet nowadays, people seem aghast if a couple wants more than two children. When Elana Sigall, a 43-year-old attorney in Brooklyn, was pregnant with her third, people came up to her constantly, she said, to admonish her: "You've got a boy and a girl already. Why don't you just leave it alone?"

What's worse, the desire to have another child opens one up to charges of elitism and status consciousness. In many major U.S. cities and their suburbs -- especially New York, where I live -- having three or more children has now come to seem like an ostentatious display of good fortune, akin to owning a pied-à-terre in Paris. The family of five has become "deluxe." Last year, novelist Molly Jong-Fast mused in the New York Observer, "Are people having four or five children just because they can? Because they feel that it shows their wealth and status? In a world where the young rich use their $13,000 Birkin bags as diaper bags, one has to wonder."

We not only wonder, we marvel, we get jealous, we gawk. "Having three kids in the city is a way of showing off, absolutely," says Elisabeth Egan, who, like many families she knows, moved out of New York to the suburbs of Montclair, N.J., to manage the feat. "A third child in the city is definitely a luxury good."

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