A $455,000 Child Vs. A $145,000 Child

is it wrong to hate a childIf you invested almost half a million dollars into raising one horse and only a fraction of that raising a second horse, you’d expect the first horse to do better in life, wouldn’t you? Be shinier, sleeker, more confident, faster. Maybe it would jump higher, eat more apples. Brush its own hair, I don’t know, whatever good horses do. Maybe you’d think of it as more valuable. But what about children?

High-income families who live in the urban Northeast, for example, are projected to spend nearly $455,000 to raise their child to the age of 18, while low-income rural families will spend much less, an estimated $145,500, according to the report.

Part of this can be chalked up to the astronomical cost of childcare, especially in certain regions:

In 2012, center-based care for one infant was greater than median rent payments in nearly half of the states, according to Child Care Aware of America’s most recent report. In Seattle, Britta Gidican and her boyfriend spend $1,380 each month on daycare for their 17-month-old son, just $20 less than they spend on their mortgage each month. “When I was pregnant I knew daycare would be expensive,” said Gidican, a public relations manager. “But I didn’t expect to pay two mortgages.”

Hahaha I’d be THRILLED to pay $1380 for daycare. That’s how crazy the situation is in brownstone Brooklyn. But yes, even $1380 is ridiculous. (“Even.”) $1380 a month is $16,560 a year to have someone else wipe your child’s nose and give them blocks to chew on and sing the ABCs for the forty zillionth time.

In France, where many children go to a high-quality, subsidized creche, and then a free ecole maternelle for pre-school starting at age 3, kids don’t just learn language and numbers. Presumably they learn to socialize with other children who are not exactly like them. We don’t learn this very well, America, and we don’t teach it. The Mike “No Angel” Brown tragedy, and its fallout, have made that clear.

Increasingly, we live in different worlds. Rich parents can start with baby FitBits and ramp up to paying adult tutors $1K an hour for test prep, while poor/minority parents have to hope their kids don’t get summarily executed in a Wal-Mart or after a car accident. Just this week, a TV producer in LA was arrested and detained for suspicion of … well, for something:

“I get that the Beverly Hills Police Department didn’t know that I was a well educated American citizen that had received a B.S. in electrical engineering from the University of Southern California, an MBA from Indiana University … and an executive leadership certificate from Harvard Business School,” Belk said. “Hey, I was ‘tall,’ ‘bald,’ a ‘male’ and ‘black,’ so I fit the description.”

In a statement, police expressed regret.

The stark inequality in terms of how much certain families can or do spend on their offspring vs others can have real repercussions. Do wealthier families see their own children, and their cohort’s children, as more human, somehow? More worthy of consideration and empathy, because they have had more resources poured into them? Is that partly behind the insidiousness of seeing some people as flawed individuals, more than the sum of their parts, and others as potential bank robbers or “thugs”?

Related: Eight charts that show why racial equality is a myth in America

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15 Comments / Post A Comment

@fo (#839)

“$1380 a month is $16,560 a year to have someone else wipe your child’s nose and give them blocks to chew on and sing the ABCs for the forty zillionth time.”

Haha–that’s more ‘care’ than you’d get for $320/week many places. That amount of individual attention frequently comes only with a nanny. And let’s not get started on that…

Theestablishment (#7,469)

Straight answer – yes. Not necessarily because of the money itself but because of the experiences, exposure, and education that the money can theoretically provide.

It sucks but it’s a natural way of thinking. Pedigree means something.

garli (#4,150)

On a real note what would it take to get subsidized child care in this country?

erinep (#4,236)

@garli men being the ones to give birth.

garli (#4,150)

@erinep Dammit. Men in all those other countries give birth?

erinep (#4,236)

@garli they must!

garli (#4,150)

@erinep I’d like to see that, as long as it doesn’t involve watching a movie staring Ahrnold.

Meaghano (#529)

@garli whatever it takes can we get it done in like, hmm, three months? i’m pretty bored over here.

Theestablishment (#7,469)

@garli a 50% income tax rate to start. The money has to come from somewhere.

levangieg (#3,282)

Ester, I’m kind of confused with the construction of this sentence:

“Rich parents can start with baby FitBits and ramp up to paying adult tutors $1K an hour for test prep, while poor/minority parents have to hope their kids don’t get summarily executed in a Wal-Mart or after a car accident. ”

I understand the point you’re trying to make re: different worlds, and I think it is a relevant and necessary point, but it is problematic to equate poor and minority in this construction. The sentence seems to assume that all rich parents are white parents and I am fairly certain that that’s not what you’re trying to say! This may sound like a petty point, but it is exactly this kind of unconscious assumption that leads people to decide that: minority = poor = thug = see, I knew that kid was up to no good. Again, obviously that’s NOT what you’re implying at all, but these tiny, unintended constructions do have the potential to reinforce biases.

It would have been more accurate and effective to say something like:
“Rich parents can start with baby FitBits and ramp up to paying adult tutors $1K an hour for test prep, while poor parents have to satisfy themselves with overcrowded classrooms and outdated textbooks. White parents see their kids dodge a murder charge with an ‘affluenza’ excuse while minority parents have to hope their kids don’t get summarily executed in a Wal-Mart or after a car accident.”

(And apologies, I know this sounds nit-picky, but again, I really do think it’s important!)

@fo (#839)

@levangieg To your point this:

“White parents see their kids dodge a murder charge with an ‘affluenza’ excuse while minority parents have to hope their kids don’t get summarily executed in a Wal-Mart or after a car accident.”

still has the same issue. It’s *rich* white parents with the affluenza thing, and (lets face it) almost exclusively black parents (both poor and rich) who have to worry about their kids getting shot.

Thingamabob (#5,522)

@levangieg I mean, yes and no. There are definitely challenges and opportunities that are associated directly with income level regardless of race, but as the anecdote from the TV producer illustrates (an anecdote which is backed by actual data), there are some challenges, being “randomly” targeted by the police among them, that are associated with race, issues of affluence/poverty notwithstanding.

levangieg (#3,282)

@Thingamabob and @fo:
I absolutely agree with both of your points! What I take issue with is the equation of poor and minority. I think it’s a dangerous and damaging thing to do, especially when it happens in a post like this, which is obviously on the side of the both the poor and the minorities.

“Do wealthier families see their own children, and their cohort’s children, as more human, somehow?”
This is a ridiculous question/premise. If somebody said to a poor parent, “Would you like your kid to go to a better, fancier school?” They would all say, “Yes, but I can’t afford it.” If you said, we’ll lower the price just for you – every single one of them would take it.
So no, most wealthier parents don’t think their kids deserve more. Every parent thinks their kid deserves more. They can just afford to get it.

eatmoredumplings (#3,808)

“Hahaha I’d be THRILLED to pay $1380 for daycare.”

YES. THIS. Sigh. (Posting from another major city on the east coast, obviously.) You know when people are like “it’s not worth it for me to work if half my income goes to daycare”? I’m hoping to find somewhere where it’s under 100%, just because otherwise we’d have to go into debt (!!!) to hold down two full-time jobs.

And my husband and I don’t even make minimum wage. So all of these stories lately about women getting arrested for letting their kids play on playgrounds while they work at McDonald’s? I have so much sympathy, and I am so mad that they’re getting arrested instead of getting help. What exactly do we expect people to do if we’re going to make childcare mandatory, but not require high enough wages or enough social subsidies to make it possible?

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