Beyond scary: the full price tag of childlessness

From Mariette over at Mercatornet:

Sorry, I cannot divulge the cost or any statistics behind this headline, because I just made it up. But someone ought to write that story. After all, reports about the (insert fear-mongering adverb of choice here) high cost of parenthood are so numerous, frequent and ubiquitous, that they would be boring if they didn’t make me so irate.

Well, here is one more: “Beyond the scary Christmas list: the full parenting price tag”.  I stumbled across this story on Yahoo news the other day, and when I re-Googled it a day two later to work on this post, there were so many corresponding hits, I didn’t know which site to link to. This version will do:

In the equation of life, few parents ever really do the math on the actual dollars-and-cents cost of a child. […] few parents would guess that the average American child costs more than $200,000, and that’s before college even starts.

“Cost of a child”? Are we talking about acquiring a fashion accessory, or the welcoming into our family of a unique individual with inherent human dignity?

As a mother of seven, stuff like this makes me crazy, and for numerous reasons. For starters, I find these cost-estimates, for all their pretended scientific ‘accuracy’, extremely misleading….

[F]or some strange reason, in western culture, there’s nothing scandalous, horrible or scary about spending great gobs of money on yourself, only on your dependents. Am I the only one to find this odd? When it comes to pampering yourself, “I’m worth it,” as the L’Oreal ads opine, but when it comes to raising children, we need to be forewarned, if not terrified into, thinking twice before attempting.

Read the entire piece at this link. Fantastic!

6 thoughts on “Beyond scary: the full price tag of childlessness

  1. So very true…so many people these days see kids as a chore or a burden or a freedom-sapping, energy-sucking, fun-spoiling burden to be put off until you’ve “had your fun”. The reasons a lot of folks give for not having kids indicate that it’s really common now to believe that kids will keep you from having a social life or being yourself or having any kind of enjoyment in life. It makes me angry but it also makes me really sorry for these people…they have no idea what they’re missing out on. Children aren’t always easy, I’ll grant you, but they are wonderful. They bring so much laughter and life and joy to a home and give you something worthwhile to live for other than, as the article says, spending gobs of money on yourself. Plus you don’t really grow as a person when your entire life’s focus is on fulfilling your every whim and doing whatever you want.

    And I’m not so sure that we adults are cheaper to maintain than children. We have many more expenses, we eat more food, we buy more stuff, our clothes and shoes cost more, etc. Yet we are worth it…we deserve it. But spend $200,000 over the course of 18 years – that’s a little over $11,000 per year, which is what many people pay into their mortgage or rent – on a kid, and all of a sudden it’s too much? Why? Actually, thinking over the expenses our family’s had this past year, we’ve spent a fraction of that. We don’t buy our kids a ton of expensive junk that they don’t need. We don’t shop at expensive trendy boutiques for their clothes. We don’t go to Disneyland for vacation every summer. We almost never eat out. There’s no reason to spend such lavish amounts of money…nothing says you have to show your kids you love them through your wallet.

    I hope that our culture has a moment of awakening soon and realizes that they’ve scared themselves out of enjoying one of the greatest blessings God has given humanity: children.


  2. Well of course its costs hundreds of thousands of dollars if you buy brand new name brand everything for each child. The “it’s so expensive” mantra seems to leave out poor families. They seem to be able to raise children tolerably well without a large pocket book. Even if they do choose to use government assistance programs that still will not ever add up to the mythical $200,000 price tag. One year recently, our family(then totaling 7) only needed to purchase a few packages of socks and underwear as the rest of our clothing had either been handed down among the kids or given to us by others. How far out of touch with reality are these people???


  3. I agree with the article and above comments. These same people that will cringe at the “cost” of children, think nothing of treating their pets as humans. I live in Chicago and the office visit for a vet is close to $200 (just to walk in the door). You can actually buy dental plans for your cat! We simply take our pet out to our country home and see a vet there (office visit once a year is $60 and they do not sell pet dental care).

    I want to write an article that looks at the “expense” of children from another angle. Your family must pay for housing for yourself and (I know, I know, there are single Mothers – but for the sake of argument) your husband no matter if you have children or not. For the first year or so the baby will not “need” their own room and when they are a toddler they can have any space designated as a room (for example in the city it is not uncommon to turn dining rooms into a childs bedroom). Heat, cooking gas, and electricity are already bills to be paid and at most a child would slightly increase the gas bill as you will be needing a little more hot water for washing. Breast feed and there are no food costs at first, after solids are introduced the amount a child eats is so small you will not notice it. This assumes you prepare your baby food instead of buy it for $1.00 an ounce at the store. It’s simple – take what you and your husband are eating then mash it up or run it through the blender. Feed it to your child. You may throw out more food that what it takes to feed a child. Toddlers also eat very little. As a matter of fact by the time your children will be eating as adults, they will be able to work a part time job.

    Children have built in economies of scale. Meaning there is an inversely proportional cost to adding additional children to your family. Regardless of what politically correct organizations tell you, there are only two sexes; male and female. If you have a female child first and a male child second, you will have all the baby clothing you need to have a third child! You will also be able to reuse cloth diapers, a lot of onsies (not the pink ones obviously but green, blue, white, etc. are unisex), bottles, crib, sheets, etc.

    I could go on for pages all the way up through teen years but I limit my computer time as my job is primarily to raise my children and they are waking/done with nap/quiet time.


  4. We must also consider the cost of not allowing the body to function in its default mode (ovulation, conception, pregnancy, extended breastfeeding ). Not going through these processes greatly increases a woman’s chances of cancer, for example. I know that sometimes it is through no fault of her own…ie infertility, singleness, etc… But there is still a cost (suffering, healthcare, regret) and this must be considered too.


  5. I believe that people should make sure to be able to provide for a child before marriage, otherwise it would not be fair to bring up a child in poverty.


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