In the past, I've been accused of not understanding the situations of parents because I have no children. Au contraire, mon ami, I understand plenty AND I do have children. Now, granted, I haven't raised them and they aren't tax deductions on my 1040A but I have had children. I'm also sympathetic and empathetic to those who have children living with them. Everybody's children are different so how they act in one household may be completely different in someone else's. Everyone has different variations on their belief systems which causes them to raise their children a bit differently. Some choose to put the needs of their children before paying their bills and, well, others don't.
I attended training for foster parenting a couple years back and, shortly before the application process was complete, I took a long hard look at my situation and realized that I need to be a hell of a lot closer to being consumer debt free before I even consider adding a child/teenager to my home. Kiddos are stressful--good and bad (kids and stress)--and being stressed about paying down my debt would take a lot of the attention off them.
My goal is to have all my consumer debt paid off by the time I'm 35. That gives me just over two years and it's totally doable...provided I don't add to what I've already got. lol. In May 2011 (when I hit that milestone), I will be five years from my first retirement and, hopefully, quite a few credits closer to my Bachelor's but...I digress.
Going back to kids, stress, and debt. If you are stressed because you have kids--you put yourself there. If you're stressed because you have debt--you put yourself there. I fall into the latter category and am working to get myself out. Now, when I say "stressed", I don't mean that it keeps me up at night though that can be the situation for some. Instead I mean: at the times that I do think about making the payments for my debts, and wondering if I'll be able to double this month's payment or will I have to pay a few hundred $$ to get rid of the squirrel condo that is situated behind my chimney, my body reacts with traditional stress responses--elevated heart rate and the like. I am not going gray because of my debts, thank God. Are you washing the gray right outta your hair?