Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Cost of Parenting?

There has been a lot of discussion lately about the cost of being a parent. Reports claim that it costs $200,000 to $300,000 to get a child to age 18. That sounds pretty scary. How many of us have that much extra sitting around? But year by year, that's between $11,000 and $16,000 per year. Consider that just about everyone of us needs that much to live decently. So that's nothing new. You are adding a new person to your family!
But they say that this recession has slowed down the birth rate because  people are thinking twice about the added costs. A new book on the advantages of parenting an only child or being one is timely for those who might feel bad not having a second child. I agree with the author that having a playmate for your first is not enough of a reason to have a second. But if you as a parent or couple really want another child, I say don't let these numbers scare you.
It is high time we pull back from the idea that every child needs two or three after school programs to round out their resume. Many middle school kids are now suffering burnout already. One sport and one art is plenty and they don't have to be the same year. Today's children need to discover ways to relax, amuse themselves, and interact with others, and not always on the most expensive new digital gadget.
And I advocate against skimping on good nutrition and safe environments, but having the latest games and toys and a new smart phone every two years or the latest fashions just isn't necessary.
On the other hand, if a person feels that children will cramp their style, either by slowing down their career, increasing their stress, or depriving them of time out at cultural activities or with their buddies, then I would advise that they are not really ready for kids.
The happiest parents I have known were expecting the unexpected and were prepared for whatever changes they would need to make to enjoy their kids and be the kind of parents they wanted to be. It's only about 20 years. You Can Postpone Anything But Love. That is the title of my first book (now in its third edition) and it is an important truth in parenting and in life.
Parents need to do the research and some calculations. What are your options to take a break from your career path to get a child off to a good start? How does the actual cost of daycare and commuting and headache and sleep remedies compare with the actual money after taxes that you will bring in from your work? And what about home cooked meals and playing in the park compared to expensive, fattening, non-nutritious fast food on the run to yet another expensive lesson?
Every family is different and every family must make compromises balancing time, energy, and finances. Let your children know that you are in charge and that you have worked hard on these decisions. They will respect you for it and learn that what her or his classmate does is irrelevant to what you and your family choose to do.
Hard times make these decisions harder but kids deserve parents who aren't all stressed out. Take the time to know what you want most and let lesser priorities go. Too often today kids are pressuring their parents to substitute gifts and amusements for simple quality family time. Neither kids nor parents know what they are missing. Keep life as simple as possible and you will all benefit.     
Randy Rolfe Taking Home Tips: Families today need frequent reminding that what kids need most is the loving attention and guidance of their parents. Because of the constant borage of commercial advertising that just one more purchase will make life easier and kids happier, we get sucked in to thinking consumerism is the solution for family challenges. But it never is. Listening, chatting without judgment, just being, walking, laughing, caring questions, and hugs, are the tools of effective parenting. Yes there is another mouth to feed and some resources to have on hand for stimulation and education, but parenting doesn't have to be a big ticket item in your budget. Just love 'em!

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