Children are remarkable little bundles of joy, and they can also be bearers of great misery. Honestly, they ask for a lot and don’t give much in return. In fact, they probably won’t thank you for your hardship until they’re in their thirties, and that’s only if you’re lucky. Now that I’ve finished telling you the good part, let’s get on to the bad news.
What’s most interesting about kids is that they are always going to keep coming. The fact that something as exciting as sex can produce the cute little human beings who follow us around all day has to be one of the cruelest jokes to ever be played by Mother Nature. When you meet that Hot person who makes you want to get naked, do you ever really consider the possibility that you might end up creating life together? I thought not.
But beyond the stress, joy and contemplation of child rearing, there’s also the financial hurdle of raising a child. According to BabyCenter.com, if you live in the suburbs of the Northeast, have a two-parent household, and earn between $38,000 and $64,000 per year, it will cost you roughly a quarter of a million dollars to raise the baby you might decide to create during the year 2010. The number doesn’t assume you want to send the baby to Harvard or Yale. It actually factors in a public university. Throw in private university tuition and you’re talking about a cool $330,000.
The cost of raising a child can be analyzed in a few ways. First, it assumes that you only have one child. So, if you decide to imitate Claire and Cliff Huxtable, you need to increase the number to an even $1.25 million. That doesn’t count taking care of Denise’s husband Martin, little Olivia, Sandra’s husband Elvin, and her two kids. Now we know why Cliff was working all the time and had to keep wearing the same tacky sweater – it was all to save money.
Beyond the financial commitment that children require, there is also the investment of time, love and attention. In fact, those assets are far more valuable than money. So, the irony of child rearing is that the astronomical cost of raising a child causes us to have to work more, but by pushing harder to take care of our kids, we deny them the time they deserve. Raising a child is a beautiful, complex and essential process. In fact, it is the reason that we exist.
Another point to consider when analyzing these numbers is that these results assume you have a two-parent household. Many families in the African American community don’t have both parents, so this increases the challenge of rearing kids. The baby cost calculator I mentioned argues that a single parent would pay $340,000 to raise a child, even if they send the child to a public university. This is because the cost per person rises when you are doing everything by yourself. This also creates a scenario in which children are fighting that much harder to get a finite amount of energy from their custodial parent that they need in order to become successful. So, when you choose to lie down with the guy you met in the club, understand that he could be a husband, father or “baby daddy” to your kids some day. If the other party doesn’t hold up their end of the bargain, you could be getting good service one night and footing the bill for the next 18 years. Keep that in mind when you choose to “get busy.”