Stop here every day for a new question and answer, practical help for busy parents.
If your child has been forbidden to use the computer at home as part of a punishment, should you still enforce this at the homes of cousins or friends? Is it wrong to ask your family to assist you and apply the punishment if they visit their house?
There are limits to what we as parents can control, and we are all healthier and happier for knowing them.
Yes, it’s OK to ask your family to comply with the punishment. But sometimes family members will not agree to do so, for a variety of reasons ranging from a belief that the punishment is unfair, to a desire for your child’s visit to be pleasant, to a simple unwillingness to invest the time and effort in enforcing the punishment.
You know your family better than I do, and you can better assess whether they will go along with it.
Asking the parents of your child’s friends to enforce a punishment is more problematic than making the same request of a family member. If you know them well, you may want to ask them to help you out. But nonrelatives are less likely than family members to go along with the punishment, and some may consider the request itself odd.
While seeking outside help is not necessarily a bad move, you must consider it on a case-by-case basis, based on your knowledge of the adults involved. The simplest solution is to accompany such punishments with a literal grounding and not allow the child to make social visits to the homes of friends or relatives.
What does is cost to raise a child, on average, from birth through age 18, or through age 22, accounting for a college education?
There is no single answer that applies to everyone. Certain expenses cannot be avoided. But a huge percentage of the costs of raising a child depends on whether or not you choose to spend the money.
- Will the child require full-time day care?
- Do you want your child to participate in sports or play a musical instrument?
- Do your plans include travel with the children?
- Will you routinely purchase brand-name clothes, or do you shop at thrift stores?
- What is your income level? Wealthy parents tend to spend more on their children than middle-class parents, largely because they can afford a higher-end lifestyle. If you spend $1,000 per month on food for two adults, the addition of a child could boost the food budget by $300. If you only spend $300 per month on food now, a child won’t double that cost.
- Does your child have special needs? Disabilities can be expensive to manage, and are likely to increase your costs.
As you can see, the cost of raising a child depends a lot on assumptions you make about your life. For an illustration of this fact, check out this cost calculator and play around with the values.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2009 report “Expenditures on Children by Families,” the average two-parent household with income of less than $56,670 spent $8,330 to $9,450 per year. For families with incomes of $56,670 to $98,120, that cost rises to a range of $11,650 to $13.530. Costs tend to rise as the children age, and they also vary by region of the country. The report provides a lot more statistics. According to that report, the average middle-income family will most likely spend about $286,000 to raise a child born in 2009 to the age of 17.
Realize that your particular costs are likely to be vastly different from that average, simply because you are not the “average family.” That “average family” does not exist. However, the number should at least provide you with a framework for estimating your costs.
College costs are a different matter, and you have far more control over them than you do over other costs. Will your children attend state schools or private schools? Will you require them to foot a portion of the bill? Will you pay for graduate school?
As is the case with overall child-rearing costs, a lot depends on the assumptions you make. To estimate your college costs, try the College Board cost calculator.
Thank you for reading today’s Q&A. Check back here tomorrow for another installment of the Ask The Dad advice column. If you’d like to submit an Ask The Dad question, send it to [email protected] If you liked today’s column, click on the Subscribe link at the top of the page to receive e-mail whenever a new column is posted. Don’t worry, it’s free.