The cost of raising children

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! IMG_9763.JPG


About sylcell

Wife, mom of four girls, Catholic, insatiable sweet tooth
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31 Responses to The cost of raising children

  1. LorraineTee says:

    I would so do couponing if it were available in my country! And I still breastfeed so we don’t even spend on formula. I like how Adrian Rogers puts it: Children don’t make a rich man poor; they make a poor man rich. You can’t take your riches to heaven, I’m taking my children to heaven.


  2. Rebekah says:

    Thank you for this post! We didn’t grow up with much, a tiny home and we clipped coupons and stuck to a tight budget & in the long run my brothers and I are better for it! Now that I have a child and our family is growing we’re moving backwards according to society norm, moving into a smaller less nice home, taking lesser paying jobs in exchange for more time at home & we love it! It’s actually a parenting goal of mine for my kids to share rooms!


  3. Thank you for this! I was just trying to keep my irritation under control the other day when I saw one of those articles!! I think the costs they cite are way over the top, and like you said- cutting back on LUXURIES can go a lonnnng way 🙂 great post!


  4. cheryl says:

    What a great response post! I also read that article and balked at the notion of people spending that much money on children!
    The only point I would like to mention is obesity is a problem for the poverty line usually because they only have access to calorie dense, nutrient deficient foods (soda, “junk” food, processed items) Majority of people at or below the poverty line are overweight or obese yet still malnourished.
    Love you blog- keep it comin’ mama!


    • sylcell says:

      And I think with the obesity thing, you missed my point. I was trying to say that we live in a place where the problems faced by our poorest citizens have markedly improved to a point where it is absurd. Consider for a moment traveling to the poorest country in Africa where children are literally starving to death because there is nothing to eat and trying to explain that our pitiful poorest people are too fat because they are just eating empty calories without any nutrition. Imagine that notion from their perspective. They would probably LOVE to have that “problem!” In fact, you would probably have trouble convincing them that that was a problem at all! Gosh, we probably come off sounding like spoiled brats to poor people with actual food problems. Anyway, I was using that to illustrate my point that we are an incredible country indeed if that is the worst of our poorest citizens’ problems. Can you imagine having to worry about your children starving to death?! I’ll take the “problem” of my children eating too much McDonald’s over watching them starve to death any day of the week, and I don’t take that for granted.


      • cheryl says:

        I agree! I’ll take obese and malnourished over literally starving to death any day! I only wanted to mention it because it is a very common misunderstanding that having plenty to eat means youre healthy. Regardless,I absolutely see your point that we are blessed so greatly that even the poorest in our country have access to food, clean water, schooling, medical care etc. More privileged than 99% of the rest of the world for sure. I wish more people understood that fact.


      • sylcell says:

        Yeah, I agree. Obese is far from healthy.


  5. dsudatta says:

    It’s a beautiful thought and I couldn’t agree more.


  6. morgan says:

    AMEN, GIRL! You rock!!!
    Over here, we’ve got the same discussion… over and over again. Some things seem to just be universal…
    But the saying here is, that raising a kid costs as much as a house over the years. What should you do with a couple of houses?

    When we were searching for houses a couple of years ago, many professionals told us things among the lines of “every kid needs his/her own room with at least 16 square meters of space” which almost gave us a coronary – I grew up sharing a room with my baby sister (but I think that room had 16 sq mtrs) and hubby’s family lived in a small flat. And it was somewhat NORMAL.
    (Having your own bathroom is something that seems to be only important to Americans. Around here, a house usually has ONE bathroom (with shower and/or bathtub and toilet and sink) and another room with toilet and sink, that one usually next to the entrance and called “guest toilet”. Reading Twilight (I think that one was it) left my slightly confused because Bella-girl freaked out about having to share a bathroom with her dad…)

    Yes, you have to make financial sacrifices, but as long as they are along the lines of giving up your skiing vacation in winter AND your annual trip to the Maledives (only slightly exaggerating here ;-)), you still have the funds for at least another kid 😉
    And honestly, up to a certain age, the kids don’t care much for the destination of your vacation… They will love it when you show them the sea and won’t care whether it’s a Bahamas 5 star resort or the windy, cold beach next door…


  7. cstockel2 says:

    Amen, beautifully written.


  8. Rachel O says:

    Amen! My husband and I had a conversation recently along these same lines. We are so grateful for our five kids and grateful God has blessed my husband with a job that allows me to stay home full time with my babies. We do go without extras, much to my 10 and 9 yr olds dismay, but we have so much! Thank you for putting into words what has been in my heart!


  9. Holly says:

    Kids are worth the costs and really, other than the initial set up of a baby, they aren’t too expensive til school (hopefully) but I’ve only got a toddler so far… Lol


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