Nadia Taha has two interesting articles on the economic price of parenting in The New York Times this week.
Her thoughts have evoked emotional responses, both in the comments to the second article and in blog comments.
Many commenters seem offended by the idea that an emotional decision such as parenting should be reduced to a balance-sheet issue. And I agree that this is unfortunate. In countries that underwrite healthcare, childcare and education, financial barriers to parenting are less of a consideration.
But in the US, parenting is expensive, both in terms of money spent and in terms of lost income and missed career opportunities if one or both parents cuts back on work hours to take care of the child. This is true even for those of us who don't feel the need to provide our children with "the very best of every[material]thing," who might even believe that showering them with expensive merchandise would run counter to the child's optimal emotional and psychological development.
I have done very few things in my life as rewarding as parenting. I have very few relationships that are as deep and important as the one I have with my son. But that is in part because I am who I am (not all that ambitious) and he is who he is (a brilliant, fascinating and loving person) and in part because we are comparatively lucky—we have good health insurance, fairly solid employment, and access to good public education. Many others aren't so fortunate, and I can't fault them for taking economics into consideration when making this critical decision.