Sat | Mar 25, 2023

Calculating the cost of a child

Published:Monday | March 8, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Mel Cooke,
Gleaner Writer

I'm sure that at some point every parent has tried to calculate just how much money he/she has shelled out - willingly or under duress - for a particular child. And I am sure that, save for a very specific time period or major event, such as school fees, they have given up.

It is simply impossible to work out from that first pregnancy kit to the present (whatever stage of their lives that is) just how much money has gone into providing for that child. And even figuring out a little part of it, you have to wonder where you found that amount of money to spend and still have something left over to live on.


Of course, there are those parents who will toss the cash it has taken to care into the faces of their children in reminding them of their obligations, under the 'I took care of you, now you take care of me' approach to this task of raising children. I don't speak to (in the literary sense) or for those sorely misguided individuals who intend to extract their pound of flesh plus a couple quarts of blood from their children for imagined debt, seeing them as guaranteed pension.

There is another way to calculate the financial cost of parenting a child. Instead of engaging in the futility of trying to work out the dollars and sense, I prefer to focus on the common sense. I think about the cost of not having a child or children to parent. Just what would the money have gone into? A more expensive car? A huge house? Buying lots of beer? Partying every weekend? Investing in retirement funds? Trips to Russia and Thailand? Playing the stock exchange market?

I have no idea, but one thing is sure. Well, a couple things. One is the cliché (but, as with many a cliché, true) 'nothing would have been as rewarding as the children'. The other is that just as I cannot calculate how much money we have spent on our children, I'm sure I would not be able to pinpoint where the money I have earned has gone if I had no children to spend it on.

There would be major waste, having two bottles of coconut water where one would have sufficed, driving to Negril and back just for the hell of it. There would be all that expenditure on telephone calls and changing shoes that have lots of wear still left in them. Plus, there would be investment in that particular Chinese bank which pays absolutely no interest, does not permit withdrawals or even keep your name on the account - someyounggal.

It is far better to be broke and experience the joy (and frustration) of having your children than be broke and not have them. 'Cause you're gonna be broke, anyway you take it.