Let me tell you a little bit about my children.
My oldest child is the most serious of the bunch. He relishes being the older brother and teaching his younger siblings about life. He’s constantly asking questions and enjoys reading so much that he’s started a book club for early elementary children. He’s very good at focusing on relatively large projects and carrying them through to completion. He has a strong interest in martial arts and enjoys surprisingly complex games for his age.
My middle child is the most artistic of the bunch. She’s constantly drawing pictures, playing the piano, singing, dancing, and playing dress-up. She makes up characters and voices all of the time. She’s also the big dreamer of the family – she talks extensively about traveling all over the world and can recognize landmarks from many places. She’s shy, but she’s also the one in our family who will make sure that a new child is welcome and can join in with the group.
My youngest child is the comedian of the bunch. He works overtime to make his older siblings and his parents laugh and his bright laugh fills our home all the time. He’s also an incredibly good storyteller for his age, coming up with elaborate stories for why he can’t go to bed yet or why there was a mess in the bathroom. He’s also the most willing child I’ve ever seen to share what he has – he’s been known to share his entire portion of his favorite foods with his siblings.
They are all growing in different ways and becoming such distinct people. It’s easy to see that, if we nurture their burgeoning gifts, they’ll go on to very distinct paths in life and are all capable of achieving great things, and they deserve every opportunity to chase those dreams, as does every child.
Our oldest one has a voracious appetite for books, so we go to the library regularly. He thrives on his martial art lessons, too.
Our middle child goes through art supplies like a tornado. She’s also getting ready to start piano lessons.
Our youngest child mostly just needs attention and encouragement for his good behaviors, which is true for all of our children.
They all need time and attention. That time and attention takes away from other things that Sarah or I might be doing, but it’s time and attention we’re glad to give.
They all need opportunities to grow intellectually. Lessons and books and supplies provide those opportunities, but they come with a financial cost.
They also all need the basics: nutritous food, clean clothes, good hygiene, and a safe home. All of these things take both money and time as well.
When you add it up, giving children everything that they deserve to start on their path in life takes a lot of time, focus, and money. It’s a commitment, and if you’re not willing to step up to the plate for that commitment, you’re either making the wise choice to not have children at all or the poor choice to have children that aren’t going to get the opportunities they deserve in life.
I’ve received several notes from couples lately who are unsure as to whether they want children. The answer to that question is actually pretty easy.
When you think about this kind of challenge, of raising children and ensuring that they have the basic needs and the opportunities that they should have in life, are you completely overwhelmed and afraid of the challenge or do you relish it and look forward to it? Do you feel comfortable giving a significant portion of each day for the next twenty years over to a child, and that each of those days is going to be full of successes and failures? Are you all right with the fact that this child will cost you, on average, $250,000 during their lifetimes in the form of real expenses and missed opportunities?
Some people want to do this. Others do not. There is no right or wrong answer – just different people.
If you choose to have a child, though, be prepared to give a lot of time and a lot of money to that child. That child depends on you and deserves the opportunities that you can give. If you’re up for it, there are few things more rewarding, but that reward comes with an intense price. Some will find it worth it. Others won’t.