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I'm 14, and I really want a baby!

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Trinity asks:

I'm 14, and I really want a baby. I know how to care for them because I live with my niece and sleep in the same room with her. Whenever she cries, I usually wake up and help my sister. I'm very good with babies. I already have 10,000 dollars in the bank just for me that I could use just for the baby, and it is still growing. I am a virgin so this is not just because I want sex. I'm very mature. I make straight A's in all my classes I really don't have many friends, so it wouldn't matter if I would not have many contacts. I really think I'm ready for a baby.

Susie replies:

It takes a lot of maturity to admit to yourself that as a parent, you will put your children first and make the kinds of sacrifices necessary to provide for them. These sacrifices include waiting to have children, and in the mean time getting a good education so you can go to college, then get a job that is enjoyable and pays enough money to raise a kid comfortably. When you have a kid, your life is no longer about you: you are responsible for the welfare of another human being.

The $10,000 is a good start, but according to the US Department of Agriculture, it costs more than $200 thousand dollars to raise a child from birth to the age of 18. Simple arithmetic ($200,000 / 18 years = $11,111.11 per year) shows that you don't yet have enough money in the bank to cover that child's first year.

Even if you have a lot of practice handling babies, you still have to get the rest of the package. Do you have:

  1. A place to live on your own? While it's nice to be close to family, it's not fair to the people who provide your shelter to impose another person into the household. Yes, extended families often live together, but wouldn't you rather have some of your own space?
  2. Health insurance? While the US has public health programs in place to cover some basic medical care for the poor (at taxpayer expense), it's better to be able to provide your own coverage, either by buying your own plan or by getting one through work.
  3. An education? You tell us you have straight A's. Well, why not take those good grades all the way to the bank and go to college?! Imagine taking that $10,000 in your bank account, and turning it into a college degree that will enable you to get a job that pays well. It's well known that people with college degrees make a lot more money than people who don't go to college, and way more than high school dropouts. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says "Women with less than a high school diploma earned $323 per week in 2002, compared with $809 for those with a college degree." And check out this chart that shows how each level of income changes when you go further in school.
  4. A co-parent or partner? A lot of studies have shown that households do better when there are TWO parents present and able to take care of the kids. The problem a lot of young parents run into is that oftentimes boyfriends and girlfriends break up, leaving one person to take care of the baby, or the baby is put into the care of its grandparents, aunts or uncles. While many people have been raised successfully by other relatives, overall, this kind of instability is bad for the kid.

As for not having many friends, there have been real medical studies that have shown that people who have friends live longer, healthier lives than people without friends. Keep your friends. Be social. You don't need to be the Prom Queen, but you should have people around you who who care about you, people you can count on. Besides, wouldn't you like to have a baby sitter handy once in a while?

As for getting through your "I want a baby!" urges, I have some ideas you should try.

  1. Make some pocket money as a baby sitter. Advertise your services in the neighborhood so you can see what it's like to handle kids that aren't related to you.

  • Volunteer at a hospital in one of the nurseries.
  • Get a job as a day care attendant.
  • Volunteer to supervise an after school program for kids K through 5th grade. Afterall, babies grow up, and you should familiarize yourself with dealing with older children.
  • Volunteer as a Big Sister as part of Big Brother and Big Sisters of America.

    You may want to check out the following for more information:

  • The Reality of New Mommyhood
  • To Be... AWESOME or Just Be –– Tips on Making the Most of Your Life Right Now!
  • 10 of the Best Things You Can Do for Your Sexual Self (at Any Age)
  • written 08 May 2008 . updated 08 May 2008

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