Counting the Cost of Parenting

One of the few nuggets of information that I retained from business college was the concept of opportunity cost. According to Investopedia.com, opportunity cost refers to a benefit that a person could have received, but gave up, to take another course of action.

When making decisions concerning our time and money we must consider the opportunity cost. Most of us do this in the decisions we make everyday.

If I work full time, than I won’t be there when the kids get home from school.
If my kids play sports, we will frequently have to miss church.
If I teach this class, I won’t be home on Wednesday nights.

There is a cost to parenting. Just as God sent His Son to pay the price for our sins. And just as there is a cost to following Christ. Having kids also costs us something.

The question is, who will pay?

I recently heard about a friend of the family I hadn’t seen in a long time. He and his wife have a four-year-old daughter and a baby. Let’s call him Max.

Max had lofty career goals from the beginning. After college, he attended one of the most prestigious, and the most expensive business schools in the country. When all was said and done, he had student loans in the ballpark of $100,000!

He got a job working for one of the most prominent consulting companies in the country. It required travel which meant he would be gone Monday through Thursday just about every week.

After being out of town for a project, he noticed his relationship with his four-year-old daughter was suffering. Max wasn’t home very much, and when he was, he felt like he was constantly disciplining her. They were having very little positive daddy-daughter time. So, he requested to be put on local projects, and their relationship improved.

It’s not just quality time that matters, because . . .  it takes quantity to get to quality.

Max’s next project was only for two weeks. But the project was in Paris. This highly prestigious job was sought after by most of his colleagues, and the competition was fierce. It was the chance of a lifetime and he couldn’t give it up.

So Max went. And he traveled again, and again.

Max’s daughter suffered when she didn’t see daddy for long periods of time. There was a cost, and she was paying it.

There is a sacrifice required when we have kids. If we, as parents, aren’t feeling the pain of sacrifice, than our kids probably are.

Let’s look at another family. Let’s call them Jack and Diane.

Jack is a an I.T. guy at a consulting company. Diane is a partner at a prominent law firm. They have two boys approaching the teen years. Most of their money is tied up in their trendy, suburban, house, and Diane likes to shop for new clothes, new furniture, and new cars. Their lifestyle requires both of their high incomes.

The oldest son is having difficulty in school. He doesn’t fit in and is having a hard time making friends. He experiences bullying at school and doesn’t feel like his parents listen to him. What’s most alarming, however, is that he recently threatened suicide. 

A threat of suicide should never be taken lightly. It’s true, you know your kid best, and every adolescent is different. Some fully intend to follow through and some don’t. However, we must err on the side of caution. We must err on the side of life.

Never ignore a threat of suicide.

If your kid is getting bullied at school and it is affecting him enough to threaten suicide, drastic measures must be taken. Parents must do whatever it takes to help their children out of despair. If parents won’t, who will?

For Jack and Diane, this may mean that one of them quits their job and homeschools their troubled son. Or, they may need to move so he can go to a different school and have a fresh start.

When parents sacrifice for their kids, they feel valued. When parents don’t sacrifice for their kids, they feel worthless.

If we are unwilling to sacrifice for our children, they will likely suffer.

If we want to give our kids the very best, we must be willing to do radical things. Are we willing to sacrifice for our kids? Are we willing to give up our career and/or dreams temporarily so our kids can thrive?

There is a cost to parenting. Will we, as parents, sacrifice for our kids? Or, will we put the “sacrifice” on them?

I am not saying that both parents working is wrong in every situation. Parents know their children, and their needs. And every family is different.

However . . . .

If we, as parents, are not feeling the pain of sacrifice in our parenting, then it’s possible our kids are feeling it.

What are we giving up to be a parent?

4 thoughts on “Counting the Cost of Parenting

  1. Rosalie herzner

    Kim, this post is very thought provoking, and I appreciate that you used the term ” sacrifice”. No one wants to use that term these days, because in our society don’t we believe we can have it all? In fact, the “we” includes all of our family members too. We can be who we want to be and do what we want to do and no one should have to give up anything. The media portrays this constantly. No one wants to believe that they might have to give up thier desires for the benefit of their children. If more parents recognized that their children would be making this sacrifice, maybe better decisions would be made. Thank you for writing about this topic.

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