|Hal’s Take: Yep, kids are ridiculously expensive creatures. After you figure in food, diapers, clothing, doctor’s visits, braces, haircuts, birthday parties, and several trips to Disneyworld, the average American family spends close to the GNP of Guatemala to raise one child. Then there’s college! As parents, we’ve made a choice to procreate and raise the next generation. That’s a choice that will cost us quite a bit of dough and even more of our youth. But, it’s a choice that will also reward us handsomely with sticky kisses and bed head mornings. You just can’t put a price on those homemade birthday cards and spontaneous hugs…and then you get to watch as they grow into adults and surprise you with their kindness, generosity, and compassion. With all of that said, don’t relegate yourself to second class citizen status when it comes to your expendable income. If it’s been two years since you treated yourself to a new outfit because Jimmy needs the newest pair of Heely’s every three months, you’re headed down the primrose path of resentment and martyrdom. Let your kids start paying for some of their expenses like music, clothes, and entertainment. They will not only learn the value of a dollar, but they will also take better care of what they buy. Then, take yourself shopping for a change and leave the guilt at home with your babysitter.
-Hal Runkel, LMFT, Author of ScreamFree Parenting and ScreamFree Marriage