Friday

The Economics of Parenting...

I have had a revelation. Being a parent is expensive. Between the formula, food, and fun, it’s a wonder that anybody signs up for the job. If you analyze from a pure economics perspective, it doesn’t make sense.

I was an Economics major in college. I’ve been supporting myself for over 10 years. However, parenting has truly taught me the value and limits of a dollar. Babies are expensive. For years, I’ve heard parents lament the costs of parenting, including my own. However, I didn’t get it until now.

In the literal sense, babies are merely little consumers.  They pay you handsomely in smiles, and contribute loads to the family in terms of joy and satisfaction, but they add nothing to the bottom line.

Mathematically, it’s a lopsided equation. Their needs are high. However, their economic contributions and their potential to contribute are quite limited, unless you happened to birth the next Olsen twins. Also, you sacrifice a huge part of your life, you may even lose friends, people you actually liked because you no longer have time to cultivate the relationship. You have a major cash flow reduction.

We spend more in childcare than I pay for my mortgage and co-op fees every month combined. And we spend enough in diapers to feed a small village.

It’s not quite as bad as throwing cash out the window, but it can feel that way. According to figures compiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a couple can plan to spend between $143,790 and $289,380 on a child through age 17. Even if you’re Donald Trump, that is real money. It’s enough to scare the bejesus out of you!

I imagine that’s why the cost factor of babies is de-emphasized and the cute factor is overemphasized. Really, if they had a price tag attached to all of the cute baby photos I think that a lot of people might think twice and even three times about procreating!

So why would anybody ever do it? For one thing, there is something about becoming a parent that desensitizes you to price. Once the kid gets here you will spend anything to make it happy, stop crying, or have a comfortable bottom. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor. If your kid needs something you’ll find a away to get it, even break the law. (Has anybody seen John Q?!)

Also, what babies lack in economic contributions they more than make up for in hugs, kisses and smiles. Every day when I see my daughter’s smile or hear her laugh fills my heart with joy. Can you put a price on joy??? Perhaps not, but because my I can’t take joy to the bank or buy toys, food, or shelter with it, I work!

Here’s to working mommies!!!





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