How do I raise poor children

Debate Having children despite poverty: Priceless ease

Are you allowed to want children if you can't afford them? Absolutely! Hartz IV is better than a lot of work and little time for the family.

Upside down world: the birth rate is lowest where there is most Photo: currantbun / photocase

“How long do you want to lie on the taxpayer's pocket? Having a child doesn't make your life any easier. You can't offer your child anything! "

What I would have wanted to answer to the employee at the job center only occurred to me when I was outside: “My life shouldn't get any easier. I need a job! If my labor is not needed, at least I want to have children. They need me. And what can I offer you? One life! ”I didn't say that, but put my maternity record in my pocket and swallowed the lump in my throat. Perhaps the woman would have shrugged her shoulders and replied: "Not everyone can have everything?"

Perhaps I had my children out of spite, because I didn't want to make my reproduction dependent on money, but instead believed that with time and low demands, it had to be possible without a lot of money. My conclusion from the assertion that not everyone can have everything is: Then it has to be shared.

Because if the struggle that humanity is waging only meant: Everyone rakes in as much as possible and ensures that nobody takes it away from them, then we would have long since died out. The struggle we wage is: to share or not to share. The birth rate is lowest where there is most. A woman with German affluence has an average of 1.3 children and one in Kenya 6.3.

Used, borrowed, given, exchanged

When I had my first child at the age of 24, I was sure that I could achieve anything. Then there were compromises and more and more compromises. What I wanted to achieve had to be changed, and I wondered how many application rejections a person can actually endure.

My main task was to get everything that cost money, used, borrowed, given, exchanged and sometimes stolen for the children. When my daughter went dancing, I would wipe the hall afterwards. When the children were still walking around with sandals in October, I asked friends and acquaintances about old winter shoes. If the washing machine broke, we drag the laundry to friends until someone bought a new one and we got the old one.

A bicycle helmet for 2 euros was pasted and sprayed by a neighbor for my son. When I looked down on myself, I couldn't find any clothes I had bought. The stream of clothing passed on has supplied us in abundance. When we went on a weekend excursion with our bikes and the S-Bahn out of town, only a trained eye for inspectors helped. 42 euros for the tickets to the surrounding area were not included.

Our lives worked by seeking help. We benefited from living in a society in which most people have enough or too much and are not reluctant to give something when someone really needs it. We really needed it. We were satisfied. As long as it was about the children, the role of always taking didn't bother me.

Necessary more expensive than luxury

If a millionaire is of the opinion that he is entitled to all the money, why shouldn't I be of the opinion that I am entitled to the little Hartz IV? After all, I raise children for this society. I would, however, prefer them to grow up in a society in which the essentials are cheaper than luxury. But rents are more expensive than air travel, and a monthly pass is as expensive as two new pairs of pants. I didn't want to regret having children, but rather thought it was possible to turn the sometimes unworthy circumstances into worthy ones. For the children at least.

Then I saw myself in the mirror, stood there in the dance hall with a mop in hand and was startled. Could it be that I feel sorry for myself? Get up in my victim role and it's all just a diversion so as not to see myself as a failure?

I had believed that I could offer the children just as good a childhood as a mother with money and without time. It took a lot of effort, but I was young and happy with the children. The power was there. Against the charge that you shouldn't have children if you don't have money, I made the argument that you shouldn't do it either if you would rather work than keep your children busy.

Sometimes we could just make a living from jobs and Hartz IV. The only problem was: no child was allowed to get sick. Staying at home meant: no money.

I didn't want to recognize money as the main recipe for happiness.

The pride of having cooked something healthy from cheap groceries or of sitting between my parents at a dance performance, who could pay 30 euros a month, was enough to drive me. Sometimes we could just make a living from jobs and Hartz IV. The only problem was: no child was allowed to get sick. Staying at home meant: no money. Dispo: zero. Reserves: zero. No grandparents who can help.

Our demands were low. I wanted to enjoy what was there. To have children as a matter of course.

Don't be afraid of falling

But it was also sometimes stressful for the children that we had to cheat our way through so often, even though I really just wanted to be an honest role model for them and did what I did best and what I wanted most. Having children among other things.

If you have nothing, you can't take anything away from you, that gives life an unaffordable lightness. Knowing that you can do it without money is one of the most valuable experiences missing for those who live in financial security and have learned to fear the crash.

An old photo of us lying in a field reminds me of the time when we lived from Hartz IV. It reminds me that I was happier than now, because I juggle three different jobs and I have to spend 90 percent of my time on work to be able to live 10 percent.

More texts from the “Family Affairs” series at taz.de/Familie