15

The Illusion of Security

One Child

 

 

 

Lauren Sandler, a proponent of having one child, writes a predictable piece in a predictable news magazine, Time, about he joys of stopping at one child.

She’s on to something. According to the USDA, a child born in 2011 will cost an average of $234,900 to raise to age 18. If your household income is over $100,000, you can raise that number to about $390,000. Yes, there are some savings after the first child — you don’t have to buy another high chair! — but it’s not as though you get a huge volume discount on subsequent offspring. There are also opportunity costs of a mother’s loss of income from parental leave, scaling back hours or dropping out of the workforce entirely. No wonder, according to the USDA, two-parent households with two children devote over one-third of their income to their kids. Add it all up and there’s a strong economic case for stopping at one child.

And yet the world will tell you — from grandmothers to sitcoms to strangers in the supermarket — that money shouldn’t be a factor in deciding to have more children. If you express concern about how much children cost, then you’ve clearly got your priorities wrong. You’ll make it work, they tell you. Don’t be selfish. (I wrote about this and other stereotypes of parents with singletons in a cover story for TIME.)

Having raised three children I can say that for my family the 234,900 per child figure was way off base, unless one adds into the mix the lost funds of my wife not having a job during much of the time that the kids were growing up.  Of course that is the wrong way to look at it.  My wife and I did not get married in order to see how much stuff we could accumulate during our lives.  We got married because we loved each other and hoped that our love would be blessed with children.  My wife worked harder than I had to in our efforts to raise our kids, and I often told her that she had the important job in our house and I worked merely to facilitate her efforts for the kids.

In this vale of tears we have no guarantees as to our economic success, no guarantees as to how many, if any, kids we will be blessed with and no guarantees as to how they will turn out.  Every minute of our lives we are working without a net.  I often plan and calculate various aspects of my life to ensure the best outcome that I can, but I realize that the most important parts of my life are often completely out of my control.  It takes quite a bit of faith to endure the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” that come our way in this world and to realize that we always and everywhere are dependent upon the mercy of God to see us through.  Modern men and women mostly do not accept this.  They think that they can eliminate risk and turn our journeys through this life into a cocoon where we will have endless fun, accumulate lots of material items and never hear of such things as pain and sacrifice.  Such is not, and never will be, our mortal lives.

A much more accurate reflection of our lives is contained in the closing prayer of the Rosary: Continue Reading