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Having a Baby in Early Retirement
Old 10-01-2012, 09:47 PM   #1
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Having a Baby in Early Retirement

I have searched and read a few posts about the pros and cons of retiring with school age children in the mix, but nothing specific to having a child from scratch after achieving ER.

I spent so much time on my career to be able to retire last year at 47 that I never had time or much of a desire to have kids. Now that I am pushing 50 with plenty of free time (and a great new girlfriend) I have found myself thinking about it.

It seems like the biggest potential con is cost. I would probably reallocate much of my vacation budget to help cover expenses in the beginning since spending 3 months backpacking in SE Asia would be out of the question.

As for the pros, I think the kid would benefit from the parent's extra time and less work-related stress. It might be fun to coach hockey and soccer and get involved in the PTA without having job-related responsibilities in the way. Not to mention extra-long family camping vacations in the summer.

Would appreciate thoughts, especially if you have had a child after ER. Thanks!
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Old 10-01-2012, 10:35 PM   #2
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I think a positive is that one gets extra SS if they have kid when they claim benefits.

I've coached quite a lot of youth sports ... both boys and girls. It is quite rewarding even after your kids are grown since some of the folks you coached and competed against go on to D-1 college and professional sports. You knew them when.

And kids are incredibly cheap to raise. At least ours were.

As for camping, not all kids like that kind of thing.

Don't forget that kids go to school quite a lot, so even working parents have plenty of time to work while still having lots of time for their kids.
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Old 10-02-2012, 12:08 AM   #3
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I'm sure there are pros and cons. DW and I have two kids, 25 and 21. We are not retired yet, I'll be 51 in a month, she has 6 months until 51. From time to time, we think about our friends who are a year or two older or younger than us, with a 5 year old kid or a 1 year old kid, and we just shake our heads and say "boy I'm glad that is over with". Don't get me wrong, we love our kids, and loved having them around. But, we also love having our time together, and really look forward in a few short months to not having tight schedules or deadlines or restrictions on our travel due to work, etc (i.e., FIRE).

All of that said, the one thing I would really, really enjoy would be the camping trips in the summer. I would not enjoy having to wait for summer (kids out of school) for summer vacation to start. On the other hand, DD is married, so we have grandkids to look forward to, and I'm sure she and her hubby won't mind if we take the kids camping for a few days...and when we get tired of it, we can take them back...can't do that with your own kids...

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Old 10-02-2012, 05:13 AM   #4
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... kids are incredibly cheap to raise. At least ours were... even working parents have plenty of time to work while still having lots of time for their kids.
I don't have kids yet - still young, maybe in the next few years - but why haven't I heard this from anyone else with kids? I'd think this was sarcasm, but you appeared to be serious in at least the first half of your post.

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Old 10-02-2012, 08:21 AM   #5
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CFB might chime in here with having a child after ER, and I'm pretty sure he thought it turned out to be a good idea, but with some caveats. But he's the only one I can think of, off the bat.
There is a pretty evenly divided kids/no kids demographic around here, so folks like me, happily child-free, can be at odds with the baby set, and thus try to sit on our hands when discussions like these come up.
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Old 10-02-2012, 08:55 AM   #6
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If you have all the financial mechanisms in place to support the child, there can be some positives to the scenario you described. I had mine at a
"normal" age, but 2 of my best friends waited until their 40s and will be Er'd before they leave the house. The only negative that I would suggest based on my friendships is their initial struggle with changing their life long routines. 30 years of doing your own thing and having your daily routines and rituals comes to a screeching stop when the baby comes is as much a life changing event as the baby itself. That was probably the hardest part for them (other than the night time feedings that initially wore them out).
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Old 10-02-2012, 09:04 AM   #7
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There is a pretty evenly divided kids/no kids demographic around here, so folks like me, happily child-free, can be at odds with the baby set, and thus try to sit on our hands when discussions like these come up.
Some of us that had childern at a more "traditional" age will sit with you. We have no desire to go through that period of life, again.

Of course, the OP should consider his age when the childern become young adults, and start to become interesting, and it may be a bit of a challange to coach hocky/soccer when you are in your 60's ...

As you can tell (speaking only for myself), kids don't always add a positive spin to your life. Heck, somedays I wished my parents never had any...
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Old 10-02-2012, 09:28 AM   #8
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Good topic and a serious topic. Having a child is not an undertaking to be taken lightly. My comments are based, however, on my experience only and I do enjoy hearing other opinions, even from those who choose not to have children. I even heard a funny comment on another forum from a childless person who said "I chose not have a child b/c 7 billion miracles is enough"....and I think that comment is very funny in a cynical sort of way. My wife and I have 3 children, two biological and one very beautiful girl we adopted in a moment of temporary insanity at age 40. My wife retired early just months before we travelled to adopt our baby and so she has experienced working full time with kids and retired with kids. I am still a woking schmoe. I have thoroughly enjoyed all 3 kids and I am a very involved parent. I also take the fiscal component of having a child very serious and all three children were planned only AFTER I knew we could provide for them in the way that I strongly feel is necessary to prosper in todays world (ie, all the standard stuff plus funding for college). We have long since passed the point of survival of our species, so children are completely elective from that standpoint. And this is significantly different from just two or more generations ago when the planet could handle more concrete and deforestation and we needed hands to work the farm. Saying all this, my kids have provided some of the most profound experiences I have had as an adult and the journey has been amazing. I would not underestimate two things with having a child: 1. Costs are tremendous and your kidding yourself if you think otherwise. 2. The Worry Factor. You will worry about them almost every day, no matter how old they are (my oldest is in college and I worry every day). You made the decision to bring life into the world and unless you are a very detached person, you will worry.
I also like to say kids are like herpes: the gift that keeps on giving. But I've got a twisted sense of humor. Just my 2 cents.
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Old 10-02-2012, 09:31 AM   #9
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Forget the money angle. Look at your age when your kid(s) are teenagers. Do you want to be dealing with a rebellious 16 year old when you are in your mid 60's?

My advice: Find an older child to adopt, maybe about 8-12 years old. Not only will you help a young person with a better life, but you will save yourself a lot of grief and aggravation when you are least able to deal with it.

You will have older kids earlier. There are advantages to this including having strong young backs to help move furniture, they take you out to dinner, and you often have great conversations with intelligent adults whom you love. Think about it.
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Old 10-02-2012, 09:40 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Mulligan View Post
30 years of doing your own thing and having your daily routines and rituals comes to a screeching stop when the baby comes is as much a life changing event as the baby itself. That was probably the hardest part for them (other than the night time feedings that initially wore them out).
+1

Mulligan has nailed another good point. As a single guy I have dated a number of women, some with children, some without. There is no doubt in my mind that there is a huge difference between the two groups.

(Putting on Kevlar vest.)

Women without children tend to be more 'me' directed. They don't understand having to wait or delay things because another person isn't ready, they don't relate well to sharing their man's attentions with others, they don't understand having to limit their choices because of others. They are just more self-centered (not necessarily selfish.) Women I know tell me the same about men who have never had children.

(Removing Kevlar vest)

Simply put: ONCE YOU HAVE KIDS IT'S ALL ABOUT THEM, AND YOU AND YOUR SOMEONE SPECIAL TAKE 2ND PLACE.

You will be assimilated.
Your life will change to service them.
Resistance is futile!
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Old 10-02-2012, 09:47 AM   #11
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(Putting on Kevlar vest.)
Women without children tend to be more 'me' directed. They don't understand having to wait or delay things because another person isn't ready, they don't relate well to sharing their man's attentions with others, they don't understand having to limit their choices because of others. They are just more self-centered (not necessarily selfish.) Women I know tell me the same about men who have never had children.
(Removing Kevlar vest)
OMG, Chuck, really? Guess all those hours spent volunteering with my fellow child-free people didn't really happen, as I was actually sitting at home fuming about DH's attentiveness to his mom, sister, friends, etc. Wow, the Onion is right, stereotypes are a real time saver.
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Old 10-02-2012, 09:49 AM   #12
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Being a first-time parent is a life-changing event. As others have noted, being a first-time parent in your 50's is a life-changing event you may not be properly equipped to deal with even though you may think you are.

As a 65 year old father of two and grandfather of five, my advice is to get a dog.
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Old 10-02-2012, 09:58 AM   #13
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Forget the money angle. Look at your age when your kid(s) are teenagers. Do you want to be dealing with a rebellious 16 year old when you are in your mid 60's?
This was what came to my mind while reading this thread, too. I am 64, and there is no way on earth I would want to be doing that at my age.

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As a 65 year old father of two and grandfather of five, my advice is to get a dog.
Actually, seriously, I think that is great advice.
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Old 10-02-2012, 10:05 AM   #14
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Being a first-time parent is a life-changing event. As others have noted, being a first-time parent in your 50's is a life-changing event you may not be properly equipped to deal with even though you may think you are.

As a 65 year old father of two and grandfather of five, my advice is to get a dog.
Pretty good advice. I had my son ~3 years after I retired and he's 7 now. I spent a ridiculous amount of money on him, but its not necessary.

He's already like a teenager...the kids grow up a lot faster these days. When he's actually in his teens and probably a black belt by then, I better do a little more working out or be prepared to employ some form of trickery.

But while physically limited, the emotional maturity is a lot better in your 40's and 50's. I see a lot of stuff where I wish I was 25 but am glad to have the maturity (oh cut it out) of a 50 year old.

He's the best thing that ever happened to me, and I'd do it again, only I'd be looking for how to do it without the pesky wife thing.
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Old 10-02-2012, 10:42 AM   #15
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For me at 48, I feel I am too old to properly raise another generation of children. Actually I think I could handle the 0-18 months ok, since I don't sleep solid anymore anyways. What would bring fear to me is the words "play with me dad" from ages 2-6. I wouldn't have the energy to keep up with that on a non stop daily basis. I still marvel at the energy levels those little booger eaters have. They move around non stop solely for the purpose of moving. I wouldn't need to have organized workout sessions if I did what they did on a daily basis.
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Old 10-02-2012, 10:52 AM   #16
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I had both of my children after I retired (23 & 7) and I have enjoyed it so much that we will have another in 2 years. Both my children had FT nannies, so most of the unwanted tasks can be outsourced. My wife has a large family and both in-laws have 8 siblings each. It was not until I was exposed to Latin culture, that I realized family is more important than possessions. As my wife is 30 years younger, I will most likely predecease her. It is with this realization that I wish to give her a family to be there when I am gone.
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Old 10-02-2012, 11:18 AM   #17
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Almost 60 here with a 16 yo. Echoing others, cannot now imagine being kid-less for that unique connection to another is profound. Assuming a basic level of financial security, the money doesn't matter. Want to spend on kid rather than self.

What I'm now finding a bummer is *not* having a teen at this age for seeing her turn into a (still !) delightful, but more adult little person is great. Rather, it's being constrained. The constraint of caring for a baby/toddler was clear up front. This one I did not expect ...

The issue is that I want to be with the kid (and she fortunately with me) but there are so many demands on her time. You sound like a traveler. I, too, would now like to drag her around to more parts of the world. But we're stuck in a school schedule with it being increasingly hard to take a teen away even in the summers.

Retirement is about escaping the time demands of an institution (work) only to now be stuck in another (school system). Unfortunately, she's not up for homeschooling. If I were younger and working, this would not I think be creating such a sense of loss since we'd both be limited.

This is a minor gripe. The far larger is one mentioned by another poster. Once you have a kid you are forever hostage to the worry.
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Old 10-02-2012, 11:20 AM   #18
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While we're not retired yet - we're "senior" parents. I was 41 when I gave birth to the 2nd one. Hubby is almost 10 years older than me - so he was in his 50's.
Now - we're on the brink of retirement (hubby in 1.5 years, me in 4 years.). We're looking at retirement as an advantage in parenting.

I call BS on not being able to coach sports in your 60's. My husband is my proof.

I agree - to an extent - that kids don't have to be super expensive. But you do have to factor in some costs: increased health insurance expenses is the non-negotiable one. Factor in some other expenses that might occur: possible orthodontia, college funds, sports/activity fees. But, since you won't be working, you can eliminate some expenses working parents have (daycare/after school care, etc.)

Kids *can* suck all your money - if you choose to. There's lots of expensive stuff to buy for kids if you want to spend the money. But my kids have been just as successful in hand me down and sale rack clothes than if they had the latest gymboree or hannah anderson outfits when they were little. They use gift money from relatives and money from chores to buy their own Wii, DS's, and Minecraft accounts. They know I'm cheap... and don't seem any worse for it.

The bigger issue is that you're looking at a later marriage/long-term-commitment with the girlfriend - and adjusting lifestyles there, simultaneous with adding kids to the mix can be pretty stressful to the adult parties in the transaction. We were able to successfully navigated having a late 30's late 40's merging of households... but I've seen friends who crashed and burned blending households when older and more set in their ways.
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Old 10-02-2012, 12:53 PM   #19
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Now that I am pushing 50 with plenty of free time (and a great new girlfriend) I have found myself thinking about it.
Would appreciate thoughts, especially if you have had a child after ER. Thanks!
You asked for advice? Are you sure you want to hear it?

One of the most essential prerequisites for procreation is that you must have absolutely no freakin' idea of what you're getting into.

Parenting is a life sentence with no parole for good behavior.

Having said that, it's probably also one of the more worthwhile things a human being can do with their time. But maybe that's just our DNA reassuring us that we're carrying out our evolutionary biological imperatives. All the people who rationally decided that procreating wasn't worth the investment & effort... well... their genes are no longer with us. Only random mutations can bring back that behavior.

Our decision to start a family was based more on shore duty good timing than on "should we or shouldn't we?" We turned out to be frighteningly fertile (considering our impulsive behavior when we were younger) so we never went through the protracted agony of trying to start a family. For us it started as an interesting yet light-hearted experience instead of a hardcore commitment.

But even in your 30s you lack the stamina to stay up all night that you had in your 20s. You lack the patience to put up with the fifth or sixth wakeup in six hours. Chronic fatigue will erode your ability to make rational decisions under stress, especially when your kid has a fever or an ear infection or a serious injury. Our daughter's first five years were harder on me than any of my years of sea duty-- and I was awakened far more often by her than by the crew or the general alarm.

Parenting slewed my internal gyroscope 180 degrees on my life priorities. Career dropped right off my top-five list, and parenting took over the top four. Ironically I was also too exhausted with the attempt to balance the two to be able to analyze the decisions that would have allowed some reconciliation, so if you insist on starting a family then admittedly it's far better to do so when you don't have to go to work.

Now that our daughter appears to have launched from the nest (so far so good) I can't imagine having more kids. Even if Heidi Klum or Jessica Alba or Jada Pinkett greeted me at my favorite surf break, begging me for another chance to help her raise a family from scratch, I'd have to regretfully decline.

The good news is that kids are very cheap to raise because you won't be spending your time (or your money) on much else. Goodwill & garage sales will cover 80% of the kid expenses. You'll be eating healthy and cooking at home, so your food expenses will drop. You'll be spending time at the park, the beach, the library, the museum, and the campground-- all good frugal activities. You'll spend a lot of your time teaching them life skills and money management, so you'll hold yourself to a higher standard and lower expenses. You'll possibly even stop smoking, drink less, hang up your BASE-jumping suit, and sell the motorcycle. Nothing improves your behavior faster than having one of your kids call you out on it... either by their learned behavior (when they're younger) or by their teenage challenges to your authority.

We're glad we started a family. I get a tremendous jolt of vicarious life energy from watching our daughter build her own life. I enjoy coaching her and reassuring her and discussing all the options of the decisions she's making for herself. But I wouldn't do it again.

If you're still reading this, then I'd suggest that you "try before you buy". Use a "Baby Think It Over" doll for a couple of weeks or months. Ask the parents of newborns to put together a baby boot-camp schedule for you to adopt for a week or two. (They'll have a lot of fun designing the curriculum.) Better yet, invite them to spend a few weeks with you so that you can shadow their lives. Join Big Brothers. Coach a kid's sports team. Teach a Sunday School class or help out with a youth group.

Then, as REWahoo! wisely suggests, adopt a dog from the local shelter and see how that goes. If you become a parent then your kid will eventually start asking for one anyway.

Sarah, you are an exception to the rule. So are the parents who are too self-centered to devote the time to raising their kids. But generally speaking, the childless singles & couples we know simply do not possess the proficiency at switching gears quickly from "enjoying my life" to "gotta go, one of my kids needs me now".
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Old 10-02-2012, 01:22 PM   #20
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There is a pretty evenly divided kids/no kids demographic around here, so folks like me, happily child-free, can be at odds with the baby set
No need to "be at odds with the baby set" Sarah. What's right for you is wrong for someone else, etc. Live your life as you wish. Let others do likewise.
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