Kids & Families

The Wall Street Journal tells us it costs from $279,000 to a million dollars to raise a kid nowadays. Reading their article one sees pretty quickly that they’re talking about the rich folks of America. These are the families that think their little kids need $1000 birthday parties, $800 strollers, private schools, and daily music downloads. I know kids are expensive. I don’t think the government does, though. Or they think that kids get less expensive as they get older. While I have been led to believe finding transportation (and insurance) would raise our expenses, now that our son will be turning 17 this year, this is also the age at which the tax code eliminated child tax credits. Hmmm.

I also read today that the insitution of marriage, while seriously in decline, is claimed most often by the educated and affluent. Here’s the report from the Washington Post:

As marriage with children becomes an exception rather than the norm, social scientists say it is also becoming the self-selected province of the college-educated and the affluent. The working class and the poor, meanwhile, increasingly steer away from marriage, while living together and bearing children out of wedlock.
“The culture is shifting, and marriage has almost become a luxury item, one that only the well educated and well paid are interested in,” said Isabel V. Sawhill, an expert on marriage and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Anecdotal evidence shows that despair over the possibility of a good marriage is a major cause:

Arguments that marriage can mean stability do not seem to change their attitudes, Smock said, noting that many of them have parents with troubled marriages.
Victoria Miller and Cameron Roach, who have been living together for 18 months, are two such people, and they say they cannot imagine getting married.

She is 22 and manages a Burger King in Seattle. He is 24 and works part time testing software in the Seattle suburb of Redmond. Together, they earn less than $20,000 a year and are living with Roach’s father. They cannot afford to live anywhere else.

“Marriage ruins life,” Roach said. “I saw how much my parents fought. I saw how miserable they made each other.”

Miller, who was pressured by her Mormon parents to marry when she was 17 and pregnant, said her short, failed marriage and her parents’ long, failed marriage have convinced her that the institution is often bad for children.

Is marriage worth doing something about? Though I’m not as convinced as some that supporting the institution of marriage is a direct imperative of Christian faith, I think it can be seen as an indirect imperative. Here are a few reason, in no particular order:

  • The institution of marriage is a gift from God. Obviously we haven’t all done a good job living within that institution. But it’s still a possible blessing from God – if we’ll take it up.
  • Marriage seems to be a strong indicator for financial stability. Many things in life are easier to afford when a husband and wife work together – even in cases when both are not employed.
  • A two parent household is, in general, better for kids. Obviously it’s not always better, but on the average (from studies I’ve seen) it is very much better. I know I’d be hard pressed to raise my kids alone. My wife says the same thing about her own ability.
  • My hope is that we Christians can demonstrate to people that marriage is the best way to do family. Clearly we have our work cut out for us.

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    3 Responses to Kids & Families

    1. David says:

      Thought you might find this an interesting corollary to your thoughts, which I appreciate.

    2. Bob says:

      Regardless of our beliefs, marriage and families should be taken seriously. To have a family is best if every member is present and is living together. This is no longer the reality. That leads to the point that parents should be more responsible in keeping the family together.

    3. John says:

      We may end up in the situation of Iceland and other post-marriage nations, where the idea of marrying the person in one’s house is a foreign novelty.

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