Typical families, those making from $56,870 to $98,470 a year, will spend a whopping $221,190 to raise a second child born in 2008 through age 17, estimates the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (.pdf file), a division of the
U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Higher-income families will spend even more. Those earning more than $98,470 will spend $366,660 overall in the U.S. to raise a second child; that figure rises to $406,680 in urban areas of the Northeast.
Though not as steep, the figures for lower-income families are just as unsettling: $159,870 for families making less than $56,870 to raise a second child. That averages $8,882 a year for a lower-income family, $12,288 for the middle-income group and $20,370 for top earners.
Ah, but fear not! According to the author of this article there's no need to take a vow of celibacy because there are ways to trim costs. (Interesting, isn't it that the only choices presented here are having kids or taking a vow of celibacy - no mention of the obvious other option of using birth control and not having kids at all.)
I continue to be utterly fascinated by the undying devotion to parenthood and the never-ending claim that it is so worth it. So worth working yourself to the bone for? So worth giving up any chance of saving for retirement? So worth endlessly struggling to make ends meet? So worth ruining your marriage for? So worth losing your friends for? So worth giving up your hobbies for? Your personal privacy? Your sex life? Your sleep? Your mental health? Your energy? Your free time? Your attention span? Your career advancement? Your community involvement? Educational opportunities? Your sleep? Your health? and on and on and on and on.....?
Oh, that's right. Of course it's worth it. Having children is the most joyful, blissful, fulfilling experience in life. This is so evident when we look around at our friends and family with children, isn't it? Aren't they all just beaming with joy and happiness?
Here's my theory about the it's so worth it line. I think this line is nothing more than parents' rationalization to convince themselves they didn't majorly f*ck up by having kids. They realize they have gotten themselves into deep doo-doo, and they are coming to terms with the fact that they can't undo the doo-doo, (they can't take their kids back to the hospital and get a refund), so they delude themselves chanting the it's so worth it mantra, like glassy-eyed Stepford wives, because facing the truth head on is simply too horrifying.
To be clear, I do not claim that there are no joys involved in parenthood. There most certainly are joys. But to date there has not been a single person who has effectively convinced me - either through discussion or by example - that the joys of parenthood outweigh the costs. Yet somehow, despite the fact that the painful costs of parenthood are in everyone's face all the time, the having kids is so worth it mantra continues to wash over everyone like mind-numbing Muzak and we are all hoodwinked.