I’ve noticed an article making its rounds on my Facebook circuit that claims that raising children these days costs around 10 billion dollars per child per year! Ok, perhaps I am exaggerating the findings of the article a bit, but I don’t think I am overstating the despondency toward having children the article made people reading it feel.
First of all, all of the major cost factors the article pointed to were typical first world problems. Yes, it is ridiculously expensive to have the finest day care, private education, clothing, cars, organic farm fresh food, newest amusements, and for each child to have their own bedroom and bathroom. However, if you are your typical American two income, middle class family with 2-3 kids, you are deliberately choosing for your children to have these things that would be considered luxuries in the rest of the world because you want them to have nice things and can afford to do it for them. However, it is by no means necessary for successful child rearing. For those of us who decide not to go that route, we are perfectly content with children sharing rooms and bathrooms, one parent staying at home with the babies, cutting coupons and shopping sales at the grocery store, shopping consignment, the children getting jobs and having to work for it if they want to buy nice things, and homeschooling or using the local public school (if it is any good).
The truth of the matter is, the most important thing to me when it comes to raising my children is that after 18 years of my blood, sweat and tears, they end up being good people. My main priority is not that they are provided with all the material wealth the world has to offer, so I don’t sweat it if we can’t afford to give them all of those luxuries. That will do nothing in molding them to be functioning adults. In fact, some of it has a danger of instilling in them an unhealthy attachment to material things. My only obligations to my children are that I love them and provide them with a secure environment and the basic necessities of food, clothing, shelter, and worthy instruction.
Is having children cheap? Nope. Is having a lot of children cheap? Absolutely not! But my husband and I labor under the faith that God will always help us find a way to provide for our family. I must say, it gives us great comfort that we live in a nation where our poorest people tend to have a problem with obesity. Think about that for a moment. The poor people in the United States have too much to eat! I think people here really take for granted how remarkable and unprecedented that is in human history. Historically, the biggest problems facing the poorest citizens weren’t that organic fruits and vegetables were too expensive, the biggest problems facing them was that they could die of starvation. But I digress. In short, this is a great country with marvelous opportunity to have children if that is what brings you joy.
Would we be able to afford nicer things if we had fewer/no children? You bet. Would I trade my children for any one of those nicer things? Not on your life.
So don’t let that article discourage you! Of course you will have to make financial sacrifices in order to have children, but trust me when I say the dividends pay out in the hundredfold. Because you cannot put a price on all the joy each child brings your family, as much as that article tried. And your money won’t come to visit you when you’re old. But odds are at least one of your children will. And perhaps they will bring the grandchildren! Heck, when I go visit my grandparents, I’m bringing great grandchildren!