The Cost Of Raising A Child

I had never before seriously thought about the cost of raising a child until the United States Department of Agriculture recently released some staggering statistics on the subject. The USDA’s research excluded all of the medical costs associated with the pregnancy and the birth of the child which I found to be interesting. The Department of Agriculture’s report also omits the price of a college education, but it does include 30% of the parents’ housing costs which I also found to be somewhat intriguing. I would think the study would’ve concentrated more on the costs of having a child and their continued education than focusing on how much their parents pay for housing, but I suppose the unconventional formula does give us a fair and accurate picture, of the true cost of raising a child, in the end. The findings of the study are a bit unsettling nonetheless.

The results of the USDA research represents the cost of raising one child from birth until the age of eighteen. The total amount (per child) can be reduced some, for households with multiple children, because the Department of Agriculture then presumes the cost of housing, food, and even toys would be shared amongst siblings. The report concludes a middleclass family (households earning above $61,500. annually) spends approximately $245,000 on one child. Families earning less than $61,500 are predicted to still spend $176,000. on average. The wealthy (households earning more than $106,500. annually) tend to spend an estimated $400,000. on one child throughout their first eighteen years of life. I think those results seem to be somewhat inflated. At least I sure hope so. My one and only child had everything he needed and plenty of what he wanted, yet I am certain my wife and I spent nowhere near the dollar amounts indicated by the United States Department of Agriculture.

I did the math (I easily could since it wasn’t algebra), and I estimate we spent a total of $111,325. on our son during the eighteen years he lived with us. I’m pretty sure I included everything when tallying up the amount. I included all of the basics such as housing, food, clothing, and health insurance premiums. I remembered all of his school supplies, sporting gear, band fees, and doctor visits over the years. I also added eighteen years of birthday and Christmas gifts to the mix as well, and I certainly could not forget about his braces, glasses, tonsil and gum surgeries, or his hospital stay when he contracted RSV around the age of two months old. I even remembered to include the $7,000. we spent on his first car, a sweet ’98 Mitsubishi Eclipse, and then I finished calculating the costs by adding an additional $5,000. to the total just to be safe. However, the total I came up with was far below the amount given by the USDA for even the poorest of folks.

That is probably partly why our son has accused his mother and I, more than once, of being Amish, but most likely it’s because we never had cablevision or satellite television in our home when he was growing up. We still don’t. The USDA’s statistics appears to indicate the more money parents have the more money they’re willing to spend on their children. That doesn’t make much sense to me. I think parents should set forth an adequate and reasonable standard of living, for their children, and not be inclined to expand that amount just because their paychecks may happen to increase. I confess to being an avid coupon clipper, and even if I were to win millions of dollars playing the lottery I can assure you I would not stop clipping. I would continue to find a pair of scissors each week and cut out the great coupons found inside of the newest ads. My wife and I simply refer to that as being good stewards of the money the Lord has blessed us with. Of course we have no chance of ever winning the lotto because “you can’t win if you don’t play.”

Sadly, these days I see many parents desperately trying to befriend their children by offering them worldly possessions, whether they can afford them or not, and then many of those recipients, who seemingly have “everything,” turn out to be spoiled, ungrateful, and irresponsible individuals when reaching adulthood. I’m sure the parents of the aforementioned children had good intentions, but in actuality they did a great disservice to their offspring. I will tell anyone who is willing to listen I was not my son’s friend while he was living under my roof. That was not my job, and I didn’t have to read any parenting books to find that out. I simply was his father and because of that we are now great friends. I suppose the only reason my son is not my best friend is because I’ve known his mother much longer. I would like to offer the following piece of advice to any parent who desires to have a close relationship with their family. Put the confound cellphone away, and give your children your undivided attention whenever you’re together. Do not allow your children to interact with any of their gadgets either when you’re trying to acquire some quality time with your loved ones.

My lovely wife and I are thankful our son was the firstborn amongst my siblings; therefore, we were afforded the opportunity of doing what we thought was proper for our child, whether right or wrong, without having to worry about “keeping up with the Joneses.” For instance, we did not allow our boy to have a cellphone until his 16th birthday. We didn’t think it was necessary for him to have his own phone until then. I am not quite sure what we would’ve done if our son had been one of the younger cousins and if one of his older cousins had received a cellphone from their parents before the age of sixteen. I would like to think our self-imposed policy would not have changed, but I’m not so certain. I’m glad we’ll never have to find out. This took place over nine years ago, and most children didn’t have cellphones then, so it probably wasn’t that big of a deal. However, nowadays it’s a whole different story since it appears as though most kids are on at least their second or third phone by the time they turn sixteen.

The actual cost of raising a child shouldn’t be anywhere near the amounts proposed by the USDA regardless of what the income level is of any household. I understand, as a parent, wanting to give your child more than what you received as a child, but giving to them in excess will undoubtedly do more harm than good. It certainly is true that raising a child can be costly (at times) but raising them improperly, by giving them everything and attempting to be their “buddy” instead of acting like a parent, could be even more costly in the end.

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