One of the most important aspects of parenting is helping our children learn and grow. For the average American these days this task has become increasingly difficult because of the changing socioeconomic patterns such as increased poverty, single parenting, and employment challenges. Helping a child learn and grow takes time and resources.
So just how much does it cost? As reported in 2010 by the US Department of Agriculture (aka. USDA) “Child-rearing expenses vary considerably by household income level,”. As expected annual expenses generally increased with a child’s age, a circumstance true in both two-parent and single-parent families, the USDA news release titled ‘A Child Born In 2010 Will Cost $226,920 To Raise According To USDA Report‘.
For income level the study found the typical two-parent family spent from $11,880 to $13,830 on each child. Households that make less spend less. USDA researchers found that a family earning less than $57,600 a year is likely to spend $163,440 in 2010 dollars to rear a child, while parents earning more than $99,730 may pay more than double at $377,040.
The USDA has a more current report out for 2011that is titled “Expenditures on Children by Families“. The site also has copies of studies dating back to 1995. Perhaps more ‘fun’ or ‘shocking’ to some parents is the ‘Cost of Raising a Child Calculator‘ the USDA provides.
Cost is a big factor to consider when deciding if you want to be a parent but another factor is the time it takes to raise a child. Most studies prior to 1997 reported that raising 2 children required an hour and 42 minutes a day in primary child care activities. Ask any parent if that number is correct and like me I’m sure they would laugh. This was confirmed in a 1997 study published by Cornell University titled ‘Parents put in a full day’s work raising two children — triple the time experts had previously estimated‘. As stated in the Cornell press release:
Parents with two children put in 7.5 hours a day raising kids…For the first time, researchers here have added together all the time parents put in raising their kids; that includes primary child care (bathing, dressing, teaching, supervising, counseling, driving and feeding children), but also secondary child care (time spent with children while doing other things, such as cooking, housework, hobbies, etc.) and shared leisure, household work and eating times — what many parents call “quality” time — playing together, watching TV or eating meals together.
Personally, I find the time estimate to be correct for us with our single child. There is always the desire to have more leisure time as well as time to teach, mentor and learn with our child. Having just come back from a day at the ski slopes my wife and I spent a combined 22 hours with our daughter in between virtual work and some personal time for each of us. Time well spent and it was a very rewarding day for all.
Note: Have you ever wondered why the USDA is the Government agency tracking children and families in the USA? Makes me feel a bit like livestock.