It requires 2.1 children per couple to ensure a replacement level birth rate. In other words, if every couple in the great US of A had two children our population would drop every year. This is not taking into account immigration and other factors.
In this Washington Post article, Pamela Paul is getting a bit of grief from friends and acquaintances, as she prepares to have her *gasp* third child. They want to know if she is just showing off. You know, flaunting her ability to pay the estimated $204,060.00 it costs to get a young’un from birth to college graduate.
She does not discount the cost of having children, but she exposes some of the silliness that passes for “good parenting” today.
For a couple’s every conceivable wish or worry, the parenting industry knows the precise formula of guilt, fear, hope, love and desire that will empty the parental wallet. Rather than fret about spending too much money, most parents these days are consumed by the anxiety of underspending — the fear that somewhere, some other parent is offering her baby an educational toy or child-development class that will propel the toddler ahead, and that if you skimp, your child risks losing out and falling behind.
So parents quickly adjust to the demanding realities of the child-rearing industry. Baby showers have replaced bridal showers as the blowout du jour; American women today have an average of three. The accompanying baby registries have mushroomed into a $240 million business, according to research firm Mintel International Group. Between diapers and bouncy seats, parents can count on spending at least $6,500 on the first year of baby gear alone. “You walk into Babies R Us, and you’re just overwhelmed,” recalls Brooke Houghton, a 35-year-old mom from Chicago who said she ran out of the store in panic after 15 minutes. “There was just so much equipment I hadn’t even considered.”
Children are not more expensive to ‘get grown’ today than yesterday, not in real dollars anyway. The problem is that there is “so much equipment (we) haven’t even considered” before now. As Mrs. Paul said, there is a whole industry set up to empty our wallets, and they play on our fears of being a bad parent. Who wants to be the only middle class parent who doesn’t own the Blu-Ray edition of Baby Mozart? (Mozart in anything less than Hi-Def might as well be Vagner).
Oh, and listen up all you large family haters… Its our kids who are going to take care of you when you get old, be nice would ya?