CHILDREN are a big responsibility, and that statement carries a lot of bearing for the majority of parents. In fact, many people will admit that in preparing for the arrival, or upon arrival of their children, they made the conscious decision that they had to radically change the way that they were leading their lives, resulting in many of them cultivating lives that their children could emulate and, even more important, making financial decisions that they believe would improve the lives of their children.
We asked parents whether having a child or learning that they would be parents positively influenced the way they led their lives, and here's what they had to say:
Anika, 25, student/small business owner:
I was just living; I couldn't see my way out. I had an unfinished degree and I was working on my business when I found out I was pregnant with my now one-year-old daughter. She was unplanned but not unwanted, and I knew the moment the doctor told me I was pregnant that I had to change my life — and it meant that I needed to start that very day. I did just that. My pregnancy was difficult so I didn't master everything, but I got a lot done and by the time my baby girl was born I was ready to have a full grasp on everything in my life. Now my business is doing well and I am completing my studies.
Michael, 31, taxi driver:
As a man, getting a youth made me hungry to make sure that my youth never has to see the same hardships as me. When my girl got pregnant I used to just pick up any little construction job and mix mortar or carry material, but I know that couldn't take care of a family. So I just got brave and went to my father for help and he helped me to sort out this taxi and I even worked and paid him off. At least every week I can know where my two children will have their food coming from. It is very hard and sometimes people are disrespectful and test your patience and your temper, but when I think about my youths, it makes me sober up and think about uplifting things.
Jehmar, 36, site manager:
Before I became a father I was into partying a lot and name brand everything, and this would happen every week. I was into a lavish lifestyle and I could afford it, but only because I wasn't saving. When my son was born he had a hole in his heart. I was not prepared and I was so ashamed because when I looked on all of the money I had spent, [covering his bills] would have been a breeze. I had to go through the public health system to make things easier for us. The situation made me realise how stupid I was because I wasn't saving. Note that all the people that are there to help you spend your money will never have it even to loan you when you need it most. I was selfish because I should have been planning better for my kid. Now everything is about him and his needs and making sure I make the best decisions that will benefit him in the long run.
Amanda, 27, customer service representative:
I had my daughter at 25, around the time I was getting to enjoy my 20s. But, of course, any child you have there are certain things that you have to change, but especially when you have a daughter that you want to look up to you, you have to do a little extra. One thing I did was change the type of clothes that I used to wear and, you know how we would say some negative things for a joke, like, “See how you disgusting like you daddy?” When I talked to her I talked positive things. Other small things like saving were also important, as well as keeping a steady job.
Stacy, 41, pastry chef:
Having a child, I would say, is almost like a 280-degree turn. I think for most people, including myself, I was no longer the most important person in my life and it felt right. I wanted to eat right because I was obese and I wanted to live to see her graduate, and I wanted to be involved in her life and I feared that she would suffer if I died because nobody could love her like I do. I also exercised more and I fed her right, too, so she would be less likely to turn out like me in terms of body weight. Overall, I just always tried to do the opposite of all the things that had caused problems in my life. I think I also became more aware, was more eager to better myself, so I went back to school.