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VIEWPOINT: Raising the next generation - a joy and a privilege
Guest column by Rep. Bethany Soye
As a 32-year-old mother of two I felt compelled to respond to a recent letter showing disdain at the idea of having children to increase the workforce. The letter referred to children as a burden, but to the contrary, raising children is a great privilege and blessing.
While inflation has certainly made everything more expensive in recent years, the average family has money in its yearly budget that could be reallocated to childbirth expenses. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American household spends around $3,000 each year on eating out alone. For low income families, SD Medicaid covers “services related to a pregnancy” with no copay required. There are also many pregnancy resource centers that would love to help a pregnant woman in need.
While it is an unspeakable tragedy when any mother dies, maternal fatality rates include any death during or up to one year after the end of a pregnancy, even if the death was not related to the pregnancy. This definitional practice substantially inflates the number reported. The last confirmed pregnancy-related death was one in 2018.
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The cost of childcare is also cited as a reason not to have children. This argument assumes that the best place for a young child to be cared for is in a daycare setting rather than at home. While I understand there are some mothers who must work to provide for their children, for a great deal of families this is a lifestyle decision. Even in today’s economy it is possible to raise a family on one income and this choice needs to be seen as a socially-acceptable decision.
It is true that having a child today will not immediately solve the workforce problem, but there are no policies that provide an instant solution. Increasing the birthrate is a significant piece of the puzzle along with encouraging citizens to move to SD and improving our legal immigration system. When it comes to encouraging childbirth, the state legislature can pursue strong pro-family policies including tax credits for families and Educational Savings Accounts that parents control.
Ultimately, having children is the greatest way to make a lasting impact on this world. Do you want to see a societal change? Raise your children to be men and women of conviction. You have the power to impact not only the world around you, but generations to come by the values that you instill in your family. The old adage indeed rings true: the hand that rocks the cradle is the one that rules the world.