Raising babies by the numbers: Breaking down the child support debate
June 09, 2016 at 8:53 am
The crux of the argument is that moms/mothers/baby mamas don't deserve to be given child support for multitude of reasons. As a person charged with raising a human being - I feel like I have some insight to educate people once and for all.
Child Support shouldn't even go to the mother it should go to an account that nobody can touch except the child when they turn 18— 3kFilms (@toys3k) June 8, 2016
Before I begin, let me preemptively say this: Yes, there are bad moms out there. But they are no more the representation for all single moms than deadbeat dads represent all fathers.
So let's break it down.
I'm going to skip pregnancy costs for a reason. People are very excited to give you things while you're pregnant, usually tiny adorable clothes that they grow out of within a couple of weeks. High ticket items such as a stroller, car seat and crib can cost hundreds of dollars at minimum. It's funny to me how people want mothers to bargain and spend less on tiny humans than they do on Yeezy’s they don't need. But I digress.
Baby is here! Yay! Hopefully, you've stocked up on diapers (they go through about 10 per day), wipes, and if you aren't able to or don't want to breastfeed, formula. The cost of formula is about $35-45 per tin, which lasts about three or four days. So actual math tells us that formula alone can run you about $245 per month.
Sure, you can go for a Walmart brand of diapers over Pampers, but if they leak through those (like my kid with Huggies) you make up costs in laundry. Which, if you don't have it in-house, has now also tripled (You have your regular load, your spit up load and your kiddos load). Oh, and don’t forget that you shouldn’t use regular detergent on newborn clothes.
If you breastfeed, the baby eats what you do. So you love spice? Forget it. Made a batch of chili in the slow-cooker? Good luck with that. You wanna eat healthy like you were forced to do during pregnancy? Anyone that grocery shops knows the price of real, healthy foods. But who has time to cook while you're a sleep-deprived mom of a newborn? Often your takeout budget will also skyrocket.
The infancy stage is the end of the honeymoon period. You might still have grandma to thank for some adorable clothes, but unless you have a great village around you, you're trying to figure out which clothes your kid grows out of quickly and which ones fall apart after one wash. Your child will start eating real food too. Great, right? Most infants are still breastfed and some still on formula when they start solids. Whether those purees are made or bought in jars, your food costs go up again. And remember, they're still in diapers at this stage (sweet-potato-colored poop anyone?) at around five per day.
Oh, and if you're in America you've returned to work by now. So welcome to the awesome world of daycare fees. Parents are charged more for younger kids because they require more care. The average cost of daycare is around $900/month (depending on your location). If your rent is also $900, you've spent $1,800 and not fed or diapered a soul.
Children can now have the occasional happy meal. They can walk, run (safety gates!) and talk. They get into things. They need toys and books to learn and grow (Yes, toys help them to learn). You might decide to put them in activities. They decide to have growth spurts (my 3-year-old is in 5T pants...). You gotta get them ready for school. They no longer fly for free. Up until last year, they weren't free on the public transit here either.
School-age until official adulthood
Clothes. School supplies. Field trips. Occasional treats. Birthday gifts for all their newfound friends. Birthday parties. Extra-curricular activities. Food. Growth spurts. Puberty (pads/tampons). Laundry. Groceries. Dentist. Glasses. Medical emergency. Braces. Hair.
All these things are just the bare minimum of raising a well-rounded human being — a costly expense that is cute but costly. This is ON TOP of regular bills such as rent, car payments, hydro/gas/water, cell service, cable, internet, etc.
Sometimes, you get tired of looking and feeling ragged so you get your nails done because that $35 for manicure isn’t going to break the bank. (Despite the fact that you still feel guilty about it). Or you get your hair done so that you can actually look presentable and remain employed, not because you're attending a gala. Because your pay went toward that unexpected child cost, you use some child support or baby bonus money — sometimes the accounting just works out that way. The child might not have new clothes from Instagram because child support went toward keeping the lights on.
Let’s put it another way — watch any home renovation show. Homeowners get upset when money has to be put toward electrical costs, plumbing or fixing foundation, the stuff that is VITAL FOR COMFORT AND SAFETY but isn't seen and isn't sexy or cute. Insulation or a new kitchen? What use is that new kitchen if your house is freezing in the winter and your heating bills are through the roof?
If I didn’t have a child, I wouldn’t need a two-bedroom apartment. I wouldn’t have daycare and child-related fees. A car wouldn’t be a necessity. Life is a heckuva lot cheaper when you are childless. Let certain people on Twitter tell it, though, and women are just looking for a come-up and to use the pittance to make it rain on some hoes in the club.
In the end, I know this will mostly fall on deaf ears. People see what they want and believe as they need to. Usually it's to assuage their own guilt and help them sleep at night.
I'm a single mom that has gone to bed hungry and has cheated transit out of some coin just to get to work. I've gotten up at ungodly hours and worked them as well. I've lugged my son in the rain and taken taxis in the extreme cold. I've considered $900/month schooling when daycare options were limited. I've looked around my house to sell things for a quick injection of cash. I've cashed in my retirement plan when on stress leave from work. I've taken my son to work when there were no babysitting options. I've spent $130 just to go to the movies.
The quiet, hidden sacrifices made on a daily basis are part of the package of becoming a parent. So child support is a small (in most cases) piece in helping make the best possible decisions for the child. I’d argue to call it FAMILY support, because it’s going to support the family. If the parent isn’t doing well, the child can't flourish.