My 3 kids are not perfect. I’ve had my share of tantrums, meltdowns, late-night puking and the like. It sometimes causes me to cancel plans. Sometimes in gets in the way of things I want to do. But overall, I’d have to say they are worth the occasional pain.
I’m not sure if they are worth $14,000 a year per child though. I’ve seen plenty of articles like this one, pointing out the high cost of raising a kid. When it’s shared on social media, it’s typically among newly married couples, who fret that they don’t have the money or expertise to raise any kids.
Folks, I don’t spend anywhere close to $14,000 a kid. For me, that would be $42,000 a year. I couldn’t afford that. I also somehow eat normal food, live in a nice neighborhood, go out to eat on occasion and have some normal hobbies.
I don’t mean to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but I worry that these articles are an attempt to scare couples into not having children. I’ve had countless couples ask me “How do you raise 3 kids? I’m worried about just having one!” Capable couples mind you, people who are financially stable, college educated in many cases, and are good, decent people. Somehow, these people, many of whom take on incredible challenges at work, are scared of having children, something human beings have been doing since creation.
We need to change these articles about the high cost of childcare to say that you can, in fact, spend $14,000 (or more!) on a kid per year…but that you don’t have to. Yes, you can spend thousands on organic, free-range, gluten-free, insert-diet-trend-adjective-here food…or you can have your kids eat what you eat. You can be that frazzled mom or dad that runs your kids to 12 different activities daily…or you can pick one or two, and include me-time in your weekly schedule.
(And don’t get me started on chores! Every kid in my household has chores, otherwise my wife would go crazy after every meal.)
Yes, kids make you change. Going out for a night of binge drinking is probably not in the cards too often. Non-family restaurants are off the table, especially when they are babies. You can’t just get up and go…most days require a bit of advanced planning. Vacations, and travel, are more expensive. There is a downside. If you planned on being a world explorer on the cheap, kids make that hard (but apparently not impossible).
But kids are designed to make you change. Kids remind you when you spend too much time at work. They ask you to slow down and explain the happenings in the world. They don’t get your references from 20 years ago, reminding you that not everyone has the same life experiences that you do.
But most importantly perhaps is that kids remind you life isn’t solely measured by a financial statement.
This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.