Bottom line, sometimes the numbers simply suck. Recent headlines of the average cost for a blue-collar family raising a family is slightly under 250k in an 18-yr timespan. People seem alarmed by this number. The truth is if you read more than the numbers, the cost increase for raising children is somewhat modest. In 1960, it was estimated that the cost of raising a child from birth to 17 was just under 200k in total. The number projected in the most recent USA Today study referenced 245k from birth-18yrs. Merely an average when you consider that calculated in that number are all vastly different American regions with livable wage the costs ranging slightly higher and lower than the mean. So if you look beyond the numbers, there is something to be said for sensationalism in the media leading to the shock and awe factor that has ensued.
While the cost of raising a family is going up, the number of individuals opting to have children is going down. Perhaps the biggest concern here is, what will that do to our economy? Food for thought but…the cycle of life also fuels the state of the economy. Although, admittedly I commend those who have enough self-awareness to make the conscious decision to forego childrearing and although it is arguable, I firmly believe that you do not have to have children to have a family or to be fulfilled, and ultimately to each his own.
It is also noted that the cost goes down with subsequent children. Why, you ask? Hand me downs, shared toys, “discount rates” for second or subsequent-children, etc. etc. So just because the first cause 245k does not mean the second, third or even fourth will do the same. Most of the parents I know, ourselves included, are well aware that they may never be financially secure “enough” to have a children, but the overall joy and love of having a child is much higher than the projected cost that it may charge their bank accounts. Some argue this is selfish, having a child without being able to afford one. Well, let me let you in on a secret, unless you fall above this middle-blue-collar class you probably “cannot afford” 245k outright. Just like in 1960 I doubt many parents could afford 200k but there is something to be said for making it work. Yes, I fully agree there are many large arguments to be made here, but I’m writing in general for those that fall in the working class, not below or above and (disclaimer: not a political statement ONLY an observation) there are more government assisted programs to help families with this large cost today, than there were 50+ years ago. I digress…
To my point, being a parent is more than $$$ in fact being a parent is not at all about $$$, at least not in the US. It’s about something much more, for those who choose the challenge to take. Yes, there are times when it seems to be mostly about schedules, oopsies, and “No!” Tantrums, poop and breastmilk, but that’s just the first few years 🙂 The single most important reason we embraced having children, and also the reason we have not completely eliminated options for subsequent children (although we are pretty well-set for now) is that it is about family; it is about love; and it is about leaving a permanent imprint of love and stories for generations to come. And I hope that when the time comes (hopefully) many decades from now the memory our girls have of us is worth much more than 245k and maybe a few noted stories and pics of tantrums, oopsies and poop.