It Costs What??

Purposeful Parent Tip:  Choosing to become a parent is an investment in our collective future.

I read an article in my Sunday paper about how much it costs a middle-income family to raise a child from infancy to age 17. Are you sitting down? $235,000. Let me say that again. $235,000. It’s important to note that this is only through age 17. Translation, it does not include college expenses. So depending on your school of choice – add on a few thousand (or tens of thousands) more dollars. Wow.

I wonder if people had this information at the time of conception, would they still opt to start a family. Think about it. People put off buying a house because of the lack of money to pay the mortgage. Do we think the same way when we are considering expanding our family unit? Do we say things like, “Dear, it’ll cost us almost a quarter million dollars to raise this child. Do we have enough money?” Probably not.

Like most long-term decisions, we are operating from faith. We take a job hoping it’ll work out for us not only monetarily but provide us some sort of job satisfaction. We buy a house with a 30-year mortgage hoping that the job we just took will help us pay that mortgage. We have a child hoping that our inadequate parenting skills and ever shrinking bank accounts will result in a happy, well-adjusted, productive member of society.

It’s all done on faith. Perhaps blind faith, but still faith.

I did not approach becoming a mother from a financial perspective. (Admittedly, I don’t approach too many decisions from this perspective sadly). While perhaps some of my decision was based on a biological clock ticking, most of my decision was based on being able to one day hold a precious little baby in my arms and help them grow up to be a better person than I was. I guess you could say that I did approach this decision somewhat in blind faith. I had faith that my secure corporate job would help me pay their expenses. I had faith that my marriage would endure. I had faith that with no previous
experience of being a parent somehow miraculously would result in normal kids.

I have no idea how much money I’ve spent on my children to date. There are days when I feel I’ve already spent the requisite quarter-million dollars, especially since my children are older now and their wants are bigger. They’re no longer content with Legos or Barbies for birthday presents, but rather the latest (for the moment anyway) electronic gadget. With college expenses looming ahead shortly for my oldest, I have to have faith that the scholarship gods will smile down on me or a huge Lotto win is in my future.

Here’s the rub. Whether it costs $235,000 or not to raise my children is irrelevant.  I consider it a privilege to have been given the gift of motherhood, to have had the opportunity to influence and guide these two little ones through their journey here with me. Honestly, my “investment” goes far beyond the balance (or lack thereof) in my savings account. For how do you measure the price of a hug? Or an “I love you Mommy” at bedtime?

I may have shelled out more than my share of expenses to raise my children in their short time with me. But they have paid me back ten-fold in the lessons they have taught me, the endless kisses I’ve received, and the multitudes of special moments that are burned in my memory forever.

Now I’d say that’s a terrific investment, wouldn’t you?

(To see how much it will cost you to raise your children, go to www.cnpp.usda.gov
and click on the Cost of Raising a Child Calculator link.)

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Jennifer Covello, Copyright 2023