Raising a child makes you rich in lovePublished 3:21pm Sunday, December 22, 2013
QUESTION: Thinking about the financial cost of raising children today is pretty staggering; how do you count the rewards?
ANSWER: A government calculation of the cost of raising a child from birth to 18 was $160,140 for a middle income family. Talk about sticker shock! But $160,140 isn’t so bad if you break it down. It translates into: 1) $8,896.66 a year, 2) $741.38 a month, or 3) $171.08 a week. That’s 24.24 a day or just over a dollar an hour.
Still, you might think the best financial advice is don’t have children if you want to be “rich.” Actually, it is just the opposite. What do you get for your $160,140? Naming rights. first, middle, and last! More love than your heart can hold. Endless wonder over rocks, ants, clouds, and warm cookies. A hand to hold, and a partner for blowing bubbles and flying kites. Someone to laugh with, no matter what the boss said or how your stocks performed that day.
For $160,140, you never have to grow up. You get to finger-paint, carve pumpkins, play hide-and seek, and catch lightning bugs. You have an excuse to keep reading the Adventures of Piglet and Pooh, watching Saturday morning cartoons, going to Disney movies, and wishing on stars. You get to frame rainbows, hearts, and flowers under refrigerator magnets and collect spray painted noodle wreaths for Christmas, hand prints set in clay on Mother’s Day, and cards with backward letters for Father’s Day.
For $160,140, there is no greater bang for your buck. You get to be a hero just for retrieving a Frisbee off the garage roof, taking the training wheels off a bike, removing a splinter, filling a wading pool, coaxing a wad of gum out of bangs, and coaching a baseball team that never wins but always gets treated to ice cream regardless. You get a front row seat to history to witness the first step, first word, first bra, first date, and first time behind the wheel. You get an education in psychology, nursing, communications, and human sexuality that no college can match. In the eyes of a child, you rank right up there under God. You have the power to scare away the monsters under the bed, patch a broken heart, police a slumber party, ground them forever, and love them without limits. So, one day they will, like you, love without counting the cost. That is quite a deal for the price!
If you would like to talk about the challenges of raising children, call the toll-free Parent WarmLine at 1-888-584-2204/Línea de Apoyo at 877-434-9528. For free emergency child care, call Crisis Nursery at 1-877-434-9599. Check out www.familiesandcommunities.org.