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The Price of Parenting

My grandmother reads New York Magazine and recently handed me an article entitled, "The Outsourced Parent: The hands-free, do-nothing, price-is-no-object guide to rearing a child from conception to college." Being an avid reader of anything and everything kid related, I wasn't surprised by much that was in the article, like party consultants, baby nurses, personal drivers, professional potty trainers, behavioral specialists and the like. What was surprising was the price to raise a child from conception to college per "The Outsourced Parent": a whopping $4,184,633.

I understand that the article is called a "price-is-no-object guide," but consider this: A $4,184,633 total price tag represents, on average, $232,479.61 per year over 18 years. If a parent was to invest that entire amount per year in a simple money market account that earned an average of 4 percent interest over the life of the investment, after 18 years the grand total would be $5,962,035.59. (If a parent invested even half of the $232,479.61, that's still a respectable $2,981,017.79 after 18 years.) And that's a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation, not taking into account monthly compounding interest or interest rate fluctuations or anything else.

I can think of a number of things I would do with $5 million, all the while spending time with my kids!

I know there are probably many of you who are thinking the same thing as I: If you are going to pay $95 an hour to former Mets and Yankees pitcher Jack Aker so he can play catch with little Junior, or if you are going to hire a life coach to "talk" to your kid weekly, then why have kids at all?

I've said many times over that being a parent is one of the hardest jobs I ever loved, and part of what I love is growing and learning all over again with my kids. Every time Lucas asks the proverbial, "Why?" it forces me to really think about why! Of course, after the tenth "why," I may resort to "Because I said so!" but most times his questions compel me to think about issues from a new perspective. Or when I see Lucas' apprehension at getting on his bike, I can empathize, recalling the three summers I made my dad hang on to the back of my first bike for fear that I would topple over if he let go.

I doubt that a hired hand could draw on his/her personal experiences to the extent that a "real" parent can. And I would hate for someone else to have those memories with my boys, even if I could afford to hire someone. My own childhood memories and experiences influence the parent I am today, but so too do the memories and experiences I have from the past couple of years with Lucas.

I imagine that the need to outsource parenting arises because the parent(s) must work so long and hard to pay for the services, creating a vicious cycle. Or worse, perhaps these people had children because that's what they felt they were supposed to do, with little or no intention to actually raise them...

Even though the article comes complete with the names and numbers of eager outsource providers, I hope for the next generation, the ones that my kids — and yours — belong to, that the article really does represent satire and irony — and not reality.

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