I was having a conversation with a coworker recently who was thinking about having another child, but was afraid of the massive expense that he says comes with raising children. Yes raising children does cost, but I was wondering why he seemed to be so concerned. Some of his opinions came from raising his own daughter, but most of it came from the many statistical reports that suggest that raising children will financially bankrupt a family. According to CNN, it will currently cost a middle class family over $240,000 to raise a child to the age of 18 . Just a few days ago, the Huffington Post reported the same statistical numbers, citing that the majority of the costs were coming from things like housing, food, transportation, and health care . These things sound standard when it comes to what parents generally provide for children and based on the statistical data, I can see why my co-worker would be shaking in his boots. However, me being me, I felt the need to explain why I felt that the statistics were a bit skewed.
Yeah, sure there has been considerable inflation over the last several decades and cultural standards have changed, but does raising children have to be as financially taxing as we are being made to believe? For one, the stats only include the children that are raised in middle-class families. So does that mean that lower income children need less food? Does that mean that those children who are raised inside of gated mansions, never hungry? Concerning housing, if we take a look at the family of yesteryear (or maybe even our own upbringing), was it standard for families to have the a house with enough bedrooms and bathrooms for each individual child as it is more common today? Speaking of transportation, is it necessary for a family to have the most expensive auto loan sitting in their driveway, while saving to purchase their child the latest model car for their first vehicle? When we look at the families of yesteryear, did mom and dad spend buckets of money to support a childhood sport that lasted all year and left their child with very little time to bond with anyone other than the coach? With regards to education, did our ancestors spend top dollar for the best private daycare, primary school, or after-school care program while underestimating the value of education at home? When we take a look at some of these things, it is no wonder that the statistical data looks like it does. Over the last several decades, there has been a rise of needless cultural suggestions given to parents to make them feel worthless as parents unless Little Johnny gets the top notch pair of shoes or Little Suzy gets into that world renowned ballet program. What happened to the day when kids were just happy to get outside to exercise and play their childhood sports with the neighborhood kids? Some of these kids did go on to play for professional teams. What happened to the day when it was OK to buy your children nice yet inexpensive clothing without having to compromise your "social integrity." What happened to the time when one income was the norm and the family of yesteryear (which usually included at least seven children) was able to eat heartily from that one income? Has the inflated standards for raising children caused the stats that we see today?
If we look at what is really needed to raise a child, we can surely say that a lot of the things that parents feel that they have to provide for their child in order for them to have a great life is completely unnecessary. Although being able to take your child on a Disney vacation is nice, does that act show an expression of love to them or is it just a filler for all of the hours that they spend away at the day care? Does giving a child a pair of expensive Jordan shoes show an expression of caring or is it just a cover-up for the lack of time that you spend with them. If parents would just re prioritize (myself included) and really reevaluate what is really necessary to love and raise a child, I would imagine that the $240,000 child-rearing bill would drop drastically.