The costs and benefits of children

Published 6:02 pm Thursday, April 15, 2004

By Staff
Arthur McLean Editor
In my last column I told that I discovered the Easter Bunny's secret when I was a little younger than I am now. Even though I might know his secret, he visits me every year and leaves a basket of goodies. Gone are the days of stuffed plush animals, and in their place is usually a DVD. This year I received the movie, "Cheaper by the Dozen."
This movie stars Steve Martin as a third-string coach who gets the opportunity to be head coach of his college alma mater. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention he is the father of twelve kids. Yeah that's right, not a typo; twelve kids. It makes you wonder families that size are even possible nowadays.
My mom is from a big family, she has nine other brothers and sisters. But back then, not that she is old or anything, but big families were more common. You don't hear of too many families that size unless it is the result of a fertility drug or something like that.
What is the reason for today's smaller families? I would venture to say that it is cost, in very simple terms. This thought leads to a question that I am sure many people have asked themselves. How much does it cost to rear a child? Or in monetary amounts, how much can I expect to spend for this child over the next eighteen years?
Well according to Arizona State University, the government can give you a pretty good idea. For a middle income family, the cost to raise a child from birth to the age of eighteen will cost you somewhere in the neighborhood of $160,140. For those teenagers who are thinking about having a baby, look at that number and think again.
For those who are a little older and in a position to start thinking of having a family or already have one, let me help put your mind at ease. The first time I looked at that number I thought to myself, "I might as well forget about that new pair of socks," but then the numbers were broken down. You have to think of it like eating an elephant, if you had to eat the thing, you wouldn't do it one bite, but a little bit at a time. You have to do the same with that huge amount of money, after breaking the number down to years, months, and weeks, it comes down to basically $24.44 a day. A bite that is a lot more manageable.
Something else on the university's website was a portion of a page that tells you all the things you get for your investment of $160,140. Listed here are only a couple of examples that I liked. Giggles under the covers at night, a hand to hold usually covered with jam and a partner for blowing bubbles, flying kites, building sandcastles and skipping down the sidewalk in the poring rain. One that wasn't listed, but that I find worth all the money in the world, is watching your little one blow bubbles after taking a big bite of squash.
I guess in the end, what it boils down to is you can never put a price on the love of a child. If anyone would like to read more on your investment, go to the following website. It's address is:
Chuck Bodiford is an Atmore native and publisher of the Advance. He may be reached by calling 368-2123 or by email at

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