The Cost Of Raising Many Children Isn’t Just About The Money

Antoine Watson, 19, decided to bum-rush and kill an 84-year-old man walking on the sidewalk minding his own business. Apparently, Antoine Watson was vandalizing a car across the street when he looked up and barked at the 84-year-old man to mind his own business.

This incident hit home with me. I was parking my car in Golden Gate Park once and I also saw a fella across the street smash a car window to steal something. As I looked at him, he told me to “mind my own business” as well.

The difference with me and Vicha Ratanapakdee, the 84-year-old Thai man Watson killed, is that I would have busted out both tennis racquets from the trunk of my car and beat his ass if he rushed over and threatened my family. There is no honor in attacking an elderly person, unprovoked.

The Cost Of Raising Many Children

As I followed Antoine Watson's story and the uptick in violence against elderly Asian-Americans, I noticed from an SF Examiner article that Antoine Watson is one of 10 kids!

“He has his mother, father, nine brothers and sisters, and community standing beside him. We will work to show his innocence.”

I'm not sure how Antoine Watson is going to show his innocence when there is video footage of his violence. I'm also not sure why Antoine decided to throw his life away a year after he became an adult.

Maybe Antoine suffers from mental illness. Or maybe he was neglected given he is one of 10 children. With 10 children, how much time can you really spend with each child?

The average time a parent spends with each child in the US is between 80 – 150 minutes a day. I'm assuming Antoine got even less 1X1 time with his parents than the average child.

When we talk about the cost of raising 10 children, most of us will focus on the monetary cost. But in the case of Antoine Watson and his family, the cost is heartbreak, shame, and tragedy. The same goes for Vicha Ratanapakdee's family due to Antoine Watson's senseless act of violence.

Difficult Enough Raising Only Two Children

I've noticed my mood changes a little bit each day depending on how my son treats me. When he's nice and loving, I feel like the best dad in the world. When he's cold and distant, I get a little down.

Over the years, I've used his rejections as a way to go exercise or work online guilt-free. After all, if my son doesn't want to play with me, I've got plenty of other things to do with my time.

But I'm starting to think I'm just being a wimp for finding it difficult to be a stay-at-home father to two young children. If Antoine Watson's parents have 10 children and get by, why am I struggling with just two?

I should have no problem spending 6+ hours a day every day with my kids until they finally go to school. But after almost four years, I have yet to build up such consistent endurance.

Therefore, it seems to me some people are just fit to be better parents than others. If you are a parent of 4+ children, please share your parenting and endurance secrets!

Maybe There's A Case For Having Too May Children

In my post, When To Have More Children, multiple surveys say the ideal number of children to have is two. With two children, parents can provide more 1-on-1 attention. Any more and parents are playing preventative defense.

I'm not here to say how many children is ideal. The choice is truly personal. If I could snap my figures, own a mega mansion, have support from preschool, family, and others, I'd probably have four children.

However, perhaps there's a limit to the number of children we should have. If we have so many children to the point of neglecting them, maybe some of our children might become menaces to society.

In the Watson family case, at least one of their children needed more love and attention.

Maybe Children Aren't That Expensive After All

Another conundrum many big city parents face is the extra cost of raising children. In order to afford children in more expensive areas, parents find themselves having to delay having children beyond the ideal biological age. And when you delay beyond the ideal biological age, complications may arise.

Based on data from the Consumer Expenditures Survey, a family will spend approximately $12,980 annually per child in a middle-income ($59,200-$107,400), two-child, married-couple family.

Middle-income, married-couple parents of a child born in 2015 may expect to spend $233,610 ($284,570 if you include projected inflation) for food, shelter, and other necessities to raise a child through age 17. This does not include the cost of a college education.

Although spending almost $300,000 to raise one child through age 17 sounds like a lot, maybe we are severely overestimating the cost of raising kids.

Having a net worth target before having kids may sound responsible. I had one and have recommended others have one too. But it now seems completely unnecessary based on what I've observed.

There seem to be many middle-class families with more than two children, let alone 10 children. Therefore, raising kids can't be as expensive as what the data and surveys show. Maybe parents are just being overly neurotic about how much to actually save.

I don't know what Antoine's parents do. But, let's make some basic assumptions in order understand how to raise 10 children and house 12 people.

Income Needed To Raise 10 Children

In order to raise 10 children in the San Francisco Bay Area, we should assume Antoine Watson's parents make at least $300,000 a year. $300,000 a year is roughly what a family of four needs to earn to live a middle-class lifestyle in the Bay Area. But let's try to make it work anyway.

Although $300,000 a year might sound like a lot, it's a relatively common household income due to all the well-paying companies in the Bay Area. For example, a fresh-out-of-college engineer at Facebook, Google, and Netflix makes $150,000 all in.

MUNI janitors and elevator technicians make over $200,000 a year with overtime. Therefore, if they marry someone with a similar occupation, a $300,000 household income is quite feasible.

After paying a 25% effective tax rate, $300,000 comes out to $225,000. We must then add on $20,000 a year in child tax credits ($2,000 for each child) for a total of ~$245,000 a year.

With about $245,000 a year in income after tax and child credits, the Watsons should be able to spend $10,000 a year to raise each kid ($100,000 a year total for 10 kids). $10,000 a year is about $3,000 less a year on average according to the government. With 10 kids, there should be cost-saving synergies.

The Watsons' remaining ~$145,000 a year in disposable income can be used to pay for housing, food, entertainment, retirement savings, and college savings.

House Needed To Raise 10 Children

To house 10 children, you would need a house with at least five bedrooms. The parents would sleep in one bedroom and 10 kids would split the remaining 4 bedrooms. Ideally, the Watsons would own an 11 bedroom house so each kid could have their own room.

The five-bedroom house would also need a minimum of three bathrooms. Splitting each bathroom 4-ways seems like a comfortable maximum. Luckily, most five-bedroom houses come with three bathrooms or more.

A 5-bedroom, 3-bathroom, 3,000 sqft home in Daly City, where they currently live, costs about $1,500,000. Although $1,500,000 violates my 30/30/3 rule for home buying, given mortgage rates are so low, it's OK to stretch after putting 20% down.

The Cost Of Raising Many Children Isn't Just About The Money

I didn't think there was such a thing as an 11-bedroom house in Daly City (15 minutes south of San Francisco). However, I found one with nine bathrooms for a $2,690,000 asking price!

If Antoine Watson's parents make $535,000 or more a year, they could feasibly buy this house if they also have the 20%+ down payment. However, let's remain conservative and say they make $300,000 a year.

The Cost Of Raising Many Children Isn't Just About The Money

The True Cost Of Raising Children

Unless the San Francisco District Attorney, Chesa Boudin, goes light on Watson, he will likely have to spend at least a decade behind bars. Watson's life is ruined and Vicha Ratanapakdee's life is gone.

Here are some of my takeaways from the cost of raising many children. I'd love to hear some of yours.

1) Parents Are Over Thinking Costs

For those of you diligently trying to save lots of money to buy a home and pay for tuition, you might be overthinking things. You have to ask yourself: If the cost of raising children is really so expensive, how can some families afford to raise so many children?

There are plenty of middle class people with many children who are raising big families just fine. Although it's nice, you don't have to set net worth targets by age. You don't need to make a certain amount of money or have a certain title before having kids either. The choices are yours to make.

If you want kids, it may be better to have them sooner, rather than later. If you wait too long, you might find yourself struggling to have just one. And when you find yourself tired from raising two kids, think about families like the Watsons who are able to raise 10 kids.

One of my regrets is not having children 3-5 years sooner. I was too focused on achieving a minimum level of financial independence. As a result, the only thing I can do is make up for lost time and try and live longer.

2) The True Cost Of Raising Children Is Time

Once you get over four or five children, the true cost of raising children is time. As a parent, there's only so much time in the day you can give to your children, especially if you are a working parent.

You don't want to have so many children that you push your children to find attention and love elsewhere. Left to their own devices, children can often get into plenty of trouble as we see with Antoine Watson.

Each child you have sucks away your free time and energy. Without time and energy, you won't be able to make enough money to care for your family. As a result, a negative loop happens, and the temptations of divorce grow.

3) Parental Involvement Matters For School

For parents deciding between private grade school and public grade school, perhaps the deciding factor may be parental involvement.

If parents are paying private school tuition, these parents may be more involved because they have more skin in the game. If parents can afford private school tuition, there might be more families who have at least one stay at home parent. As a result, private school parents may be more involved, which may lead to fewer troubled kids in school.

Then again, parents shouldn't make general assumptions. Therefore, when deciding on a school, parents must ask about parental participation rates for volunteer activities. Parents should dig deep into the community aspect of each school.

4) A Trend Towards Bigger Families

In 2019, the number of babies born in the U.S. hit the lowest level in more than three decades, according to a federal report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

American women, for example, are now projected to have about 1.71 children over their lifetimes – down 1% from 2018 and below the rate of 2.1 needed to exactly replace a generation.

However, there is a real possibility that with rising financial support from the government, an improving economy, and the realization that kids may be cheaper than reported, fertility rates may start ticking back up.

As savvy investors, we must pay particularly close attention to demographic trends. One of the main reasons why I've been buying lots of real estate in the heartland of America is due to the demographic shift towards lower cost areas of the country.

However, if there is another baby boom from the millennial generation who can now work more readily from home, then we should be buying rental properties now. For in 10-20 years, demand for housing will be through the roof. Let's not have our children ask us decades from now why we didn't realize such opportunities today.

Time May Be Everything

If more parents spent more time with their children, there would probably be fewer criminals. I've got to imagine there would be fewer angry individuals and more empathetic people if there were more nurturing parents as well.

If it's 10 pm and you don't know where your kid is, get on it! Don't let the bad actions of your kid negatively affect someone else's life.

Due to the growing cost of college, I'm thinking of going back to work. I've had a great 11-year run at early retirement, but now that my six and three year old are in school, I have a void to fill.

If I can save an extra $50,000 a year for 12 years, by the time my boy goes to college, he'll be good to go!

Related posts on the cost of raising children:

Three White Tenants, One Asian Landlord

Why It's So Hard To Speak Out Against Racism Sometimes

How Older Parents Can Spend More Time With Their Children

Readers, do you think the cost of raising children is overblown? Why do so many parents with higher incomes stress so much when plenty of lower-income families are doing fine with many children? Why is there so little outrage for crimes against the Asian-American community?

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87 thoughts on “The Cost Of Raising Many Children Isn’t Just About The Money”

  1. It is possible to raise children on a less than upper middle class income. I am one of three children raised by my single mother and we turned out fine. We lived a frugal lifestyle, worked at age 16, and all went on to pay our own way through college ( a novel idea, I know). People need to stop acting like not having two latest model luxury SUVs, a 7,000 sq house, and a car for every kid, college funds for all their kids is “abject poverty”.

  2. People exaggerate the costs of raising children because they confuse needs with wants. Every child does not “need” his own bedroom. This was not the norm until relatively recently. Every child does not “need” his own car the minute he turns 16. Parents do not “need” to pay for their children’s college tuition. There are scholarships and loans available. People have a pity party over their exorbitant student loans but there are ways to keep them reasonable so that you’re not paying them off until retirement. Go to a college you can afford. Do your first two years of lower division undergraduate courses at a community college and transfer to a state university. Work while you study. I only used my loans for books and tuition, not rent, eating out, partying, traveling abroad…As for priorities, choose wisely what you spend your income on. Your children don’t need 15 extracurricular activities. We raised four kids and I was able to stay home and homeschool them on my husband’s moderate income and we lived comfortably. All of my children are now in college on scholarships. They grew up with plenty of privileges and opportunities but we didn’t blow our money on excessive, unneccessary nonsense.

  3. This is a very sad story. I grow up on a conservative, religious area where many neighbors had large families, and the kids who I grew up with already have large families themselves. The fact is, most of the children that are around my age have struggled and do not have a lifestyle that I wish for myself or my 2 kids. Drug problems, poverty, mental health issues.
    A few of my childhood friends from large families who remained faithful to our religion and have now have their own large families appear to be humble, but happy. None of their kids participate in sports and I doubt they have any college savings, but they don’t really need college savings because they will almost certainly get financial aid if they make it to college. Still, I consider myself very lucky that I had a sport and academic interests that got me away from my background.
    I also know of a few large families (4-6 kids) who are super rich and I envy them! If money were no object, and you accept that it takes a village to raise a family and are willing to hire help in your home so you can take care of yourself, your marriage, AND put in the time with each of your kids to develop close relationships with them, then it sounds like a great life to have a big brood and give them the world if you are so inclined.

  4. A few thoughts on larger families. With larger families like this there is bound to also be a large age range. For example, my Grandparents raised 6 children with an age range of 18 years; in a 2 bedroom home, with a partially finished upstairs sleeping area. With that age range there was a very small amount of time when all 6 lived at the house at once, the norm was 3-4 children in the house at once. My Grandmother was mostly a stay at home mom and my grandfather was working class. My best guess is he earned somewhere around the current equivalent of $40,000 a year. No one missed any meals and all of their children became fully functional adults.

    I have 4 kids and although we have a 5 bedroom house it certainly is possible to have more children in the same amount of space. One of my wife’s friends grew up in a house where the 3 girls shared a bedroom. You don’t need a mansion to raise multiple children, sharing rooms is perfectly fine. For a short period of time a friend of ours moved in with us with her 3 kids. We had 10 people, 7 being children in the house at once with little problem. Housing costs are also much less expensive in other areas, both in total dollar cost and relative to median income. I’ve bought 2 4 bedroom homes in Michigan for <$50,000 each. The house I live in cost $145,000.

    When 1 parent is a stay at home parent the marginal cost of each addition child is relatively small. You have the same house (shared bedrooms), no child care cost, and they add very little to utilities. You make slightly larger meals so the grocery bill goes up a bit and hand me down clothes makes a big difference. We keep totes of clothes for each size and we have a lot of clothes that all 4 of our boys have worn. Granted, I live in a lower cost, Midwest area and spend a lot of time and effort thinking about finances, but we routinely spend under $50K per year with our household of 6 (while earning $80K-90K). Income taxes are almost irrelevant because the child tax credits offset a good chunk of what our income taxes would be.

    I also do not think that parents are 100% responsible for their children's actions. The vast majority of children who grow up in large families, or who grow up in the foster care system, or grow up as latchkey kids with parents always at work don't kill strangers on the street. There is much more that was going on in this man's life and his psyche than his parents not having a lot of one on one time with him.

  5. Just writing to share my opinion on why the number of children in a family is probably less important that the quality of the parenting involved, based on my personal experience of course.

    And I’m writing this primarily because of the responses that Sandra’s initial post generated. It’s as if the fact that she raised many children as a single-working mom automatically means they were at a disadvantage. And I guess this prejudice is what causes people to believe that the above-mentioned crime must have something to do with the fact that he was one of 10 children, and probably neglected in a certain way. I’m sure this prejudice is what made Sandra write her post in the first place.

    There’s a wide range of why people have children, and not all parents are good parents – sure, a lot can be learned, but instinct, availability, and how family members (parents/children, siblings) get along is often something that just is.

    Involved parents are usually better parents, but parents who work a lot are not necessarily bad parents. And the dynamics of having more children is not a simple extrapolation of having fewer of them.

    My grandmother was someone who just knew how to handle a big family – having had 5 children herself as a small town primary school teacher and housewife, she managed to raise functional, capable children, who went on to be doctors, engineers and teachers. Not only that, the family came together long after the children had their own families, and she continued to be the “glue” that kept everything together. I only go to know her relationship with her children in this time, as I also was present, and what I saw was a mother who could be a mother for five as efficiently, if not more, that some mothers are for 1 child.

    What I’m trying to say is that some people are just born to be good caretakers and parents (women more than men maybe? could that be just cultural bias? what is cultural bias? are some women better parents because their mothers were better parents etc etc?) and naturally have the skills to raise multiple children as easily as fewer ones, because they just know how to interact with them.

    And this set of skills, while partly learnable, has at least in the beginning nothing to do with the time one puts in for parenting. I try to spend as much time as I can with my son, and probable manage at least 3 hours on week-days and much more on week-ends – but there are situations in which my wife just has a better instinct of what to say, or do – and although she taught me a lot, I still lack the magic touch that she has when it comes to parenting.

    1. I agree. Antoine Watson will be vindicated. I’m sure his parents were good and his parents having 10 children has nothing or little to do with his actions.

      The old Asian man probably called him names and threatened him to the point that no matter how good Antoine’s parents were at teaching him about respecting his elders, Antoine couldn’t help himself.

      Therefore, it is not Antoine’s fault or his parents fault that he rushed Vicha.

      1. Hi Rachel, my thought had nothing to do with the case in question (I myself must have missed the subtext in my own words).

        Of course I condemn the heinous act and don’t blame the victim for this, who would even think that?

        Antoine Watson should get what he deserves, but it’s not my place to act juror or prosecutor here, I have no clue whatsoever about this case other than what I read in Sam’s post.

      2. Oh Rachel, can you clarify: you ARE kidding, right? Your answer reads as sarcasm, but one can never be too sure in a text format.

        1. Look, black people should get more of a pass than other minorities due to past atrocities.

          Why do you think there was so much outrage for the murder of George Floyd, a felon, versus little to no outrage for the murder of an old Asian man without a record and who wasn’t on drugs?

          We must provide more affirmative action for Black people in schools, and housing, and job opportunities.

          It is not the fault of the parents or Anton for killing another man. It is the system that is at fault.

          Offering $2000 per child and child tax credits is one step. But I think Antoine’s parents should get more like $5000 per kid, or $50,000 a year and child tax credits to help raise their family. We owe it to them.

          1. I always enjoy a well played sarcastic comment.

            As a European, I find it very interesting what my post generated. Now that I find out that Antoine is African-American I start to understand how this is so much more that just a discussion about parenting for many of you living in the States.

            Of course Antoine being black “changes” things. Even I can’t help assuming that he grew up in a dysfuntional family, and lacked parental guidance.

            Even ignoring the family situation (and please note I still have no idea of who Antoine is) being African-American makes it more likely that he is of low social class, is likely to have anger issues and whatnot, and more inclined to commit a crime in the end.

            This is the sad but I guess true reality of the American society.

          2. Unfortunately even though I believe your comment to be sarcastic, there is much truth to it. Just compare the capitol riot to the blm riots. kamala harris was helped to obtain bail money for the looters; a book “in defense of looting” was discussed on PBS which justified the looters stealing. The capitol rioters were arrested and in all likely hood face jail terms.
            I seriously doubt the family in question makes anywhere near what Sam discusses – I am willing to bet that it approximates what a single mother on welfare receives for having that many children.

      3. @ Rachel:
        If Antoine ‘couldn’t help himself’, that only wildly underscores the fact that he must be put in prison to protect both himself and the public from his uncontrollable actions.

        All healthy people are capable of self-control. It is THE thing that separates us from animals. Don’t even joke about this in this context.

    2. From the post:

      “But I’m starting to think I’m just being a wimp for finding it difficult to be a stay-at-home father to two young children. If Antoine Watson’s parents have 10 children and get by, why am I struggling with just two?

      I should have no problem spending 6+ hours a day every day with my kids until they finally go to school. But after almost four years, I have yet to build up such consistent endurance.

      Therefore, it seems to me some people are just fit to be better parents than others. If you are a parent of 4+ children, please share your parenting and endurance secrets!”

      I definitely believe some people are naturally better than other people at being good parents. And having more children may be correlated with being better parents… but then that involves more time involved in developing one’s parenting skills. But is there no threshold where having too many might be suboptimal?

      So far, it is interesting how there’s much of a defense towards having large families and that having 10 children couldn’t possible mean Antoine had less nurturing than if he was part of a smaller family. I feel bad for Vicha and his family and I wonder what more I can do to help shed light on their situation.

      As a parent to one son, what do you think is your child number limit for when your quality of parenting would decline?

      1. My son is 7 and my daughter is 1.

        As a working dad, I already feel that I’m at the limit of my availability to be with them. To put it differently, I feel that I could do better if I worked less, so seeing that there’s still room for improvement you could say I’m struggling too just like you.

        But every parent sees it differently, and the debate of how a parent subjectively sees his parenting skills can be a long one – we all remember Idiocracy, one can be afraid to fail in having one kid or be completely oblivious to raising 10 future delinquents.

        The last paragraph might make you believe I agree with they who say that ” more kids, less quality parenting”, but I just don’t know. Statistically it might be true, but I do believe it need not be the case always.

        One of my wife’s good friends from Massachusetts grew up with 11 siblings. They turned out fine, have families and all. Might they have some issues I don’t know of, but none of them are felons or failures in the common understanding of the word as far as I know. Theirs was a stay at home mom, the dad had a small business I think, and were raised quite religious.

        Does the latter make a difference? Or the fact that they are white? Again, maybe statistically yes.

  6. It’s amazing there is no equal outrage against the death of Vicha and the death of George Floyd, the criminal.

    America demonstrates selective outrage. Asian Americans need to organize better and let their voices heard.

    Women like Sandra down below minimizing Vicha’s death is part of the problem.

    1. It IS sad and everyone feels this but the American police force is meant to PROTECT the American public so when they instead turn on that public and kill or torture them with abuse then there is absolute rage for the breach of trust these public servants have enacted.

      Vicha was killed by an angry teenager – also very wrong but not a professional breach of public trust. A tragedy nevertheless and one that is helping to shed light on a lot of perspectives – all for the better. His death is not in vain.

  7. The general societal antagonism towards children, and especially large families, comes through loud and clearly in this article.

    I appreciate Sam’s openness. He is my # 2 favorite site after the Wall Street Journal for excellent unconscious social commentary by virtue of unstated and often unexamined personal assumptions.

    1. People have forgotten that children are meant to be an expression of love yet the common experience is to have a baby nearly as soon as you get married. Like rabbits. It is so irresponsible. An accordingly it is overwhelming for parents who are not acting out of pure love. Love is the only force strong enough to accommodate the sheer labor of presence involved in raising children.

  8. With the days of kids paying their own way through college entirely behind us, unless the US undergoes radical formal education cost reform, I would ask yourself if you can provide for each of their education/living expenses way before you begin to procreate. Not to mention the cost of primary education until then.

    Don’t even have kids unless your neighborhood’s public school’s are competitive to the local private school, or you are personally passionate about top-notch homeschooling. This isn’t the idealistic 1950’s America.

    1. I’m not sure if it’s feasible to look so far ahead. Saving and investing for 15-20 years in the future is difficult, so many do not.

      There’s a possibility Antoine Watson’s parents saved up or are saving up $50,000 – $500,000 per child to attend college too. Hard to say. Rationally, this is what parents would do, save for their child’s education. However, only ~35% of Americans have college degrees.

  9. You are taking an outcome from an r selected family to advise your K selected readership. Apples and oranges.

    1. Don’t think it’s apples and oranges at all. The cost of raising a family is a big factor. But so is time and the complications that can arise from having more dependents.

      I’d like all of us to think more before taking big life actions. There are potentially negative repercussions to others, as in this case.

  10. In our household (two working parents) we stopped at one. We’re both ex-consultants and we once semi-jokingly did a pros/cons Powerpoint analysis of having more than one. The cons outweighed the pros for us and one main reason was time and energy we could devote to the one. That interestingly included time and energy after they turn 18 as well. We’ll be able to repivot our retirement years and move to their location and eventually act as grandparent babysitters. Grandparent provided free daycare is one of the most underutilized wealth building assets in the U.S. for college educated working parents (not so in many other countries). Mostly, I believe because the grandparents live where kids grow up and the kids range, based on education and job prospects.

    If we had 2+, we’d pretty much have to nest in place, while our kids go to college, find a city and put down new roots, and then come back to visit us for holidays. That was the model I grew up with (saw my grandparents once per year) and the thought of that model is depressing.

    1. Sounds like a rational and responsible thing to do. And I’ve got to imagine Antoine Watson’s parents did a similar analysis after having each of their 10 children.

      Some people are more fit to be parents than others. Two is our max.

    2. Your situation sounds similar to my wife and I. I moved 3000 miles from my parents after college. Primarily because I chose an industry where to make a quality living I had to live near Hollywood. I know it pains my mother not to see her granddaughter very often. We do our best with FaceTime, but her other grandchildren live down the street and they aren’t “big city” people so moving to where we live to be close to their granddaughter isn’t feasible. By only having 1 child I guarantee this never will be a problem for us. Unless we ruin the relationship with our daughter, we will always be able to be a part of our child’s adult life and her childeren’s lives, if she choose to have children. There’s a multitude of other complicated reasons, some that could complicate things, but less variables are always easier to handle in life.

      We also realize our own limitations. We are very Type B personalities, messy, unorganized, but able to go with the flow easily. We barely keep on top of bedtimes/ meals and a clean house with 1 child… and we realize this wouldn’t improve with more children. While we are very Type B.. we have strong self control and plan for our future to a higher degree than a lot of Type A personalities.

      The problem with the Antoine situation is I highly doubt his family is as self-reflective as ours. Based on the grandmother’s comments to the media… she’s oblivious to at the very least how she comes across to a large swath of people.

  11. Plenty of low-income families do ‘fine’ I think because the women assume the bulk of the responsibility and labor for raising those kids. My parents raised three children on way less than $40k a year in the 70’s and 80’s. Yes we all grew to be outwardly well-adjusted adults but all of us suffered from the neglect that comes from poverty and obviously none of us went to college: two of us went to trade schools paid for on our own and I became a realtor. Forget about paying for college on a minimum wage job in the 90’s. But one of our parents was German – they have different, HIGHER, social standards than the average American making under $40k. And of us were fortunate to have high IQ’s for whatever that’s worth. Without those two advantages, as well as white privilege, I doubt we would have survived as well.

    That childhood experience made me swear by the time I was 15 that I would never have children without enough money to provide a decent private education and the professional childcare that the average American family requires – there are no more villages full of the necessary extended family support for the average family here. It is unnatural and unreasonable to ask one parent to sacrifice their entire day to care for children. That has never been how children are raised historically until we came to America. Everywhere else on the globe even very rural farms have villages nearby – except for the American midwest farms of the pioneers. Huge tracts of land with no neighbors for miles only existed here to my knowledge. And so women were forced into childcare 24/7 effectively ending their lives. So cruel. It’s not natural.

    1. Meant to clarify that the brutal child-rearing model of the pioneers remains today in the vast tracts of suburia where the average parent, OFTEN the mother, has very little support if any at all. Everyone suffers.

      Love is the most important factor yes. But you rarely see that love extend past the annoying and taxing toddler years, let alone the difficult teen years and then into the challenging young adult transitional years. Therefore Money – or the ability to provide working alternatives to what money provides – is a very, very close second. Not having more than enough money loses all glamour when children are involved.

      But living !reasonably! frugally is something that everyone at every income actually benefits from. I hate ultra frugal spending – enjoy your life! Just be mindful of privilege and the downsides of excess.

      1. Christine Minasian

        Then why even have kids….
        Did you actually say it’s not natural for a woman to raise kids…then who should raise them?!?! Everyone suffers?!?! No wonder why we have so many children with anxiety issues…please tell me you didn’t reproduce yet?

        1. Hi Christine, I think OP’s point pertains to a specific set of people (many of us, I believe) who do not have friends or family who will help out with kids. And therefore brings up the important point that the support costs a lot of money, and if not money, than the time of one parent or the other. The cost of raising children in modern western society is definitely incentivizing many people to limit the number of children they have. Women fertility is down to 1.71/woman on average (to cite statistic in the article above).

        1. PS: thanks Amanda, for clarifying perfectly. And Yes, Christine, I strongly believe the average person should not have children AT ALL until they can provide for both their own needs, which will be considerable, AND the child’s needs. I feel like that is the responsible thing to do. Childrearing should largely be a joy, not a hot sweaty overwhelming mess, which is the general norm when two people are trying to do it all on their own.

          Pardon me but can you please clarify your question? If it is addressed to my comment – it does sound like AW has a large extended and supportive family for better or worse, heh, but clearly he has not gotten the attention he needs in life so it more proves my point about parents/mother’s being overwhelmed and the whole family suffering because of it. But it doesn’t matter what size the family support network is if they are all emotionally toxic. If the grandmother is insane enough to publicly support a relative who is so obviously out of line then that kind of tells you all you need to know about the type of influence in his life.

          So, size doesn’t appear to matter, where families are concerned. It has always been about quality not quantity. And quality for any size family is about adequate support: emotional financial material etc. And I guess the theory that quantity inevitably produces quality does not apply to complex systems like family life.

  12. I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that the kid having 9 brothers/sisters had very little (and I would argue probably nothing) to do with him getting to a point where he was willing to lash out and attack an octogenarian stranger on the street.

    I conclude that, in part, because of his own parent’s and family’s reaction to their son being filmed murdering an 80+ year old man. Instead of asking for mercy or understanding for their 19 year old son’s ignorant actions, they are saying “he’s innocent” – “he’s going to walk out of here the same way as I am” and ultimately making zero statements on the tragic nature of the attack or their remorse for the man who was literally murdered by their son with virtually no provocation.

    Something else is going on in that kid’s house. Because the majority of large families I’m aware of (at least when those large families are on purpose) have been some of the most functional and loving household’s I’ve ever seen and the vast majority of their kids grow up to be pretty awesome and (generally financially capable) adults.

    1. Sandra S Snook

      Indeed they do, IMO. No one has enough information to know what led to this horrible attack.

      1. Try not to defend a murderer, no matter how much guilt you feel about your people enslaving Antoine’s people centuries ago.

        To defend a murderer with video witness is an insult to the family of the person who got murdered.

    2. I looked for details on this, but I’m going to go out on a limb, albeit a very short one, and say that 9 siblings = tons of kids by different Dads from a baby mama and/or a lot of step-sibling relationships.

      Most large families that are intact are highly functional. To the point where one has to sneer at the Duggars and similar families whose evangelicalism can be annoying, at least to certain personality types, but who are overwhelmingly highly productive members of society.

      1. The Duggar’s are not functional, they have incest in the family, unless incest is a regular part of evangelical Christianity, they are are absolutely normal.

        1. Er, yeah I think incest has been a fairly common occurrence in most patriarchies isn’t it? Hopefully winding down now, but thinking of that book, back in the 80’s I think, about the woman who grew up on a mid-west farm and bravely wrote about her horrible experience of normalized incest and rape which she said was fairly common in mid-west farming communities. The isolation of each farm tract had a lot to do with it: again highlighting the point that families without a healthy support network are going to suffer.

    3. Not sure if I can get through Sam’s filter or not since my last comment was deleted, but the reality is that we know with a high degree of likelihood what caused this. And it wasn’t being from a large family per se.

      Good luck discussing it without setting off society’s hair trigger Overton window.

  13. At 42 it’s easy to look back and think that it would have been better to have children earlier. I thought I would be more ready when ingot older and from a financial perspective I am. But am I going to be able to play sports with my infant son when he is in his teens? I doubt it – or at least not at any meaningful level. How will that impact him?

    I don’t know if there is a right time to have kids other than when you have a solid partner at your side. Kids take time to have and to raise. Having a lot of money prior to having kids doesn’t mean they will be any better adjusted than a kid who comes from a less affluent family.

    There are 3 things that I try to expose my kids to
    1. Options: there are infinite paths to be happy and succeed in life. Give the kids the opportunity to navigate to one that fits them and then have them focus on making it happen. It’s ok to be flexible on the specific direction but not on the level of focus/determination/work. Push your kids to realize their potential in whatever area they choose
    2. Diverse Peers and experiences. At 0 and 5 years old, I can be influential in my children’s lives. But that impact is fleeting. The people they will be around at school and social activities will greatly impact who they will be. I, as a parent, owe my kids the opportunity to give them a diverse and positive set of peers to interact with. They need to see that the world is bigger than our little bubble in order to gain empathy and understanding for different perspectives.
    3. Positive actions & instructional support. Kids want to learn and do right. They learn right from the people they are around the most early in life. Seeing my parents struggle but work hard and power through was so impactful to my young mind. Now as a parent I strive (but struggle) to avoid “do as I say, not as I do parenting” but instead do the right things and then discuss why its right or to have a discussion with my kids about what they think should be done. It’s amazing to see my wife interact with my 5 year old daughter in this way. Kids absorb so much of what is unsaid – in my opinion giving them an model for action is more valuable than just telling them what to do.

    I don’t know if there is a max number of kids that a family should have or if there is a set amount of time you should spend with each kid. You do the best you can and probably fail more than you succeed (I do!) but by promoting empathy and setting a good example, I feel you can give your kid the best chance.

    Reading about a 19 year old kids who has destroyed his life (and the life of another) is heart breaking. I can’t comprehend what would have to happen for someone to have so little regard for life in general – both their own and other people. He is legally an adult but mostly still a kid – at what point to do give up on the people when they they do wrong. I struggle to know what will lead to the best outcomes in horrific situations like this.

    1. True, hard to know exactly when is the right time. But for us, I know we would have enjoyed being parents 3-5 years sooner. Then again, we wouldn’t have taken all those international trips that we did.

      Let’s see what the DA does in March.

      How many kids do you have and at what age did you have them?

      1. Two kids.
        5 year old daughter we had at 36(me) and 34(wife).
        11 month old son at 41/39

        We were ready at 30/28 but Mother Nature had other ideas. Lots of tests, emotionally painful miscarriages and finally successfully IVF treatment led us to our two wonderful kids. Glad we still had time but would have started earlier if we knew how long it would take.

        Now just trying to decide if we want to have another child with our last frozen embryo. And researching the surrogacy process.

    2. My father was 59 when I was born. You’d think I’d have no great memories of an active life with him, but I do. We went to the park, we swam in our pool, we took trips, we got season tickets to the local Major League Baseball team for a couple of seasons, visited some cool museums, and did many other things. Did he get out there on a sports field and play soccer or tennis with me? No. But I loved my childhood and wouldn’t trade the one I had with him for anything. So I wouldn’t let your age be a barrier to having an amazing relationship with your kids.

      1. Thank you for the reassurance. I will certainly work not let my age impact my relationship with my kids.

        Awesome to hear the great relationship you had with your father!

      2. Thanks for sharing. Is he still around? If not, do you wish you had more time with him?

        My regret is that b/c I had kids late, I will not be in my children’s lives as long as I could have been. But maybe they won’t think that way b/c their lives and their parents are all they know.

  14. Probably one of my favorite articles of yours I’ve read. It seems a lot of people hop onto the train of having kids before they’re truly ready for the financial impact; although in this case, I’m not sure much was really thought out at all.

    1. Thanks. I thought I would have had more support from readers with your logic. I also thought there would be more empathy for Vicha, the victim and his family.

      But the tilt seems to more towards having as many kids as we want. And that we all have endless energy. And time spent with our kids isn’t correlated with raising good kids.

      This actually helps make me and potentially other parents feel less guilty about the time spent with kids and the quality of time spent, given that’s harder to measure.

      YOLO to the max, except if one of our children ends up hurting others. But even then, there’s more empathy for the murderer than the victim.

  15. Sandra S Snook

    “I’m not here to say how many children is ideal. The choice is truly personal. If I could snap my figures, own a mega mansion, have support from preschool, family, and others, I’d probably have four children.

    However, perhaps there’s a limit to the number of children we should have. If we have so many children to the point of neglecting them, maybe some of our children might become menaces to society.

    In the Watson family case, at least one of their children needed more love and attention.”

    I am a retired mother of 7, by birth and adoption. All my children are now adults. I adopted as a single mom, raised my children on my own while working as a pharmaceutical R&D mid-level executive.

    You don’t have a clue – sorry, but you don’t. Your children are babies. You have barely begun to parent. You are still in that space where you think you actually can control your child’s trajectory in life. You are so full of judgment, without knowing anything about this family.

    To assume it has anything to do with the size of the family is just without any supporting evidence. To use this as a segway into how much it costs to raise children just annoys me. To assume raising a large family is a linear extrapolation of a small family is also just wrong. Stick to what you know about.

    I predict that in 25 years you will cringe when you look back on the parenting advice you handed out here. There is no job more humbling than parenting. It is a pretty big leap to assume more parental love and attention would have or could have prevented this horrible event.

    It’s fine to express outrage at the violence – but to extrapolate it back to the parents’ decision to have a large family and your imagined inadequacies of their parenting is just inappropriate. There are huge differences between raising 1-2 children versus a larger family. IMO many of those differences are positive ones.

    You just haven’t a clue, nor any apparent curiosity about why some people choose to raise large families, the logistics of doing so, nor the benefits of having a large family. You really have no clue.

    1. Hi Sandra – Feel free to clue me in and other parents regarding the positives and negatives of raising a large family. Just saying I have no clue doesn’t help.

      The point is for people to share their real-life experiences so we can all get better. To them say I should stick to what I know about on my own site where you are a guest is pointless. I want to learn and get better.

      If time spent with children isn’t a factor or a big factor in raising children, what is? PS, as a personal finance blog, discussing income and housing costs is relevant.

      1. The Terminator

        I think we all know it’s easier for people like Sandra to tell people they have no clue, without helping others understand. There’s no chance Sandra would ever be able to write a coherent post explaining her views like you have done.

        That’s the problem in America. So much blaming, not enough deep thought and problem-solving.

        It seems obvious that a parent’s time gets diluted the more children they have. Sandra is projecting her guilt about not feeling like a good enough mother as she chased money in the evil pharmaceutical sector as a mid-level executive.

        Shame on you Sandra S Snook for getting people hooked on opioids and other drugs while neglecting your children and then blaming parents for trying to plan ahead.

        You have only yourself to blame for your children’s failings. If you are working as a single mother, you are not taking care of your own kids.

        1. Sandra S Snook

          You are just being mean and a bully. I appreciate Sam for reaching out to me and asking me to elaborate some. I disagree with him on some things he said here, and my tone was bad – I own that. Maybe you can own up to your really off base attck.

      2. Sandra S Snook

        You’re right, I didn’t explain myself well, but I’m not sure I can in an email. Looking back at your post, it reads to me like you made an unsubstantiated leap from the information that the perpetrator of this assault is from a large family to the conclusion that his actions were related to his parent’s not giving him enough time and good parenting. That is a big leap. Do parents influence their children? Yes. Are they ultimately in control of their children’s decisions. No. You sometimes wish you were, but you aren’t. And sometimes children of good parents make poor decisions – devastating, life-altering decisions. A kid may die of an overdose, get in a DUI wreck, or commit a crime. Those same kids may have had a perfect childhood, with no limit to resources, and great parents. There are other influences that also influence children as they grow up.

        In a large family, you have the benefit of siblings. I was raised in a family of 4 and hardly see my brother. In my large family, my kids are very much there for each other in a way that I find remarkable. There are a lot of economies of scale raising a large family. And a lot of ways to have solid 1:1 and group time with them.

        What I object to is the tone of your introduction that implied this man’s behavior was because he was raised in a large family. And using that to segway into the finances of raising a family.

        My tone could have been kinder, but I feel strongly that you stepped over a line judging a family you do not know at all. You have mentioned many times over the years (because I have read your blog for more years than I remember) that you were not an easy adolescent. Do you blame your parents or do you take responsibility for the poor decisions you made (and I don’t know what those were). Were they able to control what you did as a young adult and did everything you did reflect the morals and values they taught you?

        Most of my children came to me from disastrous situations, so I know the impact of poverty, war, and abuse on a child first hand. So I am interested in the influences that go into good parenting. I’ve also seen some huge families that were (IMO) horrible places for children to grow up – as I have seen/known families with 1-3 children where the parents do more harm than good. I’ve sat with good parents and helped them traverse the death of their children from suicide. I know children from great parents where despite everything they do to help their child – to direct, counsel, love, and support their child – they make a horrific decision. It happens.

        That is what I don’t feel here – I feel a lot of judgment. From my experience, many parents of young children project attitudes that suggest they do believe they can control (as opposed to influence) their child’s outcome based on parenting the “right” way. They feel they have all the answers. But I suggest it may be better to be thankful for your blessings while saving energy for the bigger problems that come with older children.

        Sam – before you were a dad you probably had an opinion about parents whose children did not sleep well. From what I read, your son schooled you on this big time. Some kids sleep through the night and some don’t. Given the biology of the sleep center and the part of the brain that controls the diurnal rhythm, until close to a year if your child sleeps at night it’s probably a random event, more than it’s because of anything you did. But parents whose kids sleep all night early on? Often they will suggest it’s because they somehow “did it right.” If you have a child that does not sleep well at night, it’s not because of your deficiencies as a parent. It just is.

        Am I humbled as a parent??? You bet I am. There are not many parents of adult children who would not share that feeling, if they are being honest. There is no harder job, no matter the size of your family. I went against my own advice judging you with harsh words. I apologize for their harshness. But I do hope you will also reevaluate your leap to judgment about large families.

        And to the other commentators – shoot away. It is wonderful Sam has a group of supporters to come to his defense. My family is fine – the best thing I ever did. I raised a group of children who are compassionate, fun, wonderful adults. I hope I influenced them – I think I did. But have I controlled their outcome? Not at all.

        1. Thanks for elaborating. I don’t pretend to know the answers to proper parenting. And I don’t believe there is only one “right way” to parent.

          Things go wrong all the time, and we just have to do our best to control what we control. Some of those things include time spent with our children And how we teach our children and empathize with their situations.

          This is an open forum where I encourage people to share their experiences and tips to help other people get better. Simply criticizing people for their opinions or thoughts is unhelpful.

          We don’t know for sure what Antoine Watson‘s motivation was to kill another man. As I said in the post, maybe it was due to a mental illness. Maybe it was something else. But having 10 children made me think about whether parents might be stretched too thin after a certain number.

          Finally, I don’t judge you for wanting to work in pharmaceuticals and become a mid-level executive as a single parent to seven children. You’ve got to do what you Gotta do to support your family.

          But I would like to ask you who took care of your seven children while you were working?

          What are some tips you have for working parents who want to become mid-level executives as well, but also want to have many kids? I find I am struggling with just raising two children, and I only work about three hours a day early in the morning.


          1. Sandra S Snook

            Those are good questions – I had a live-in nanny and then live out care until my kids graduated high school. I was fortunate I could afford this. My children went to a hodgepodge of public and private schools and 2 homeschooled during high school. Every moment outside of work was with my children. We ate dinner together every night, and I did their homework with them. They could choose 1 major activity to get involved in outside of schools. We said no to birthday parties (except for best friends) and used that time to be together as a family. We took fun road trips every summer. I love sitting around a table when we are all together and listen to them talk about their childhoods and the fun (and mischief) they got up to. My mom and dad both worked low-level white-collar jobs and we were low (very low) middle class. I paid my way through college and vet school (I’m a veterinary pathologist). I am lucky I ended up in a profession that paid our bills, but because of the money I paid in childcare, etc, we live a lower lifestyle than most of my work peers. But that was an active choice. Some of my children went to college and grad school, others community college. I didn’t really have a grand plan – I always wanted a large family though and it worked out for us.

            My role in the pharmaceutical industry was making sure new drugs were safe. I worked mostly on anti-cancer drugs. It was a great career. I’ve retired early (thank in part to your book Sam – I have been around a long time, I just don’t usually comment because of people like the Terminator who I perceive as bullies). I did comment this time because you really ticked me off (what you SAID ticked me off – not YOU as a person) and honestly regret it. You did make a pretty big leap there, IMO.

            But I could have been kinder in my tone and shown more empathy. I am sure you feel a visceral kick to the gut when you see gratuitous violence against Asian people. It’s hard to watch. My kids span multiple ethnicities and seeing the world through their experiences has been even more humbling. I’m so humbled by life experiences that I see everything so darn gray it surprises me I jumped like this.

            PS – maybe send the Terminator a cautionary email – I appreciate you not having an issue with my career. I included it because I thought the context was relevant. There are a lot of misconceptions about single parents – especially single parents by choice.

          2. Sandra S Snook

            One of the biggest blessings of a large family? Being forced to prioritize. I chose family time over driving my kids to a bazillion birthday parties every weekend. I chose dinner with my children every night – and a kid date night every week. My children learned to clean the house, help with grocery shopping, and how to do their own laundry – from an early age. They fixed their own breakfast and packed their lunches. They STILL talk about how helpless many of their peers are. If I had stopped with my 2 birth children I probably would have done more things for them that they needed to learn how to become responsible for. We would have taken international vacations instead of US road trips. But we still took vacations. I was lucky to be high income – because, while I think your numbers are high, it is expensive to raise a family. But I never wanted “stuff” – fancy houses and fancy cars just made me uncomfortable. My kids shared rooms. Sometimes 2/room and for a few years, my 4 girls all shared one room. I could afford to support my family. I always wanted many children, I just did. It’s how I’m wired. I love being a mother more than anything I’ve ever done. I spent years when I worked mentoring and helping other young professional parents on work/life balance. One of the most important things you can do is make deliberate decisions about your priorities. There is a lot of pressure out there about how to parent – and I see you struggling with that in your posts as you work out where to send your children. There is no one-plan-fits-all. But you know you and your kids better than anyone and it’s ok to do your own thing. As I said – we did everything from private, public, and home school. Now I am retired and the kids are grown, and I can honestly say I have no idea how I did it – but I had to do it. When you need to figure it out, you usually do. Nowadays though – I read gobs of books, write and take long walks – and I feel like I am busy. It’s a different season of life I guess.

            1. @Sandra – I commented too soon, thank you for your in-depth explanations. Your life story sounds fascinating and courageous. I just feel protective when women correct men who are trying to learn parenting and want to talk about it. I’d like to see women extend more support and compassion to men who parent.

              1. So many men and so many fathers don’t even bother to try becoming better parents because they are admonished by other mothers for not knowing how to do this or not understanding that. Parenthood is already very difficult. So if you start excluding men from learning and trying to get better, that is a illogical move, unless you are a single parent.

                I am attacked all the time when I share my thoughts openly because I’m a curious person and I like to challenge conventional wisdom. But I also understand why Sandra feels so offended by this post as a single mother. My hope is that Sandra and other mothers and parents are more welcoming to a parents idea to learn.

                I took out more insulting language from her original comment because it didn’t help in the situation. It was just a personal attack.

                I understand a lot of people have a lot of emotion, but I encourage people to be more civil so we can all learn. I was also hoping that there would be more empathy for the victim.

                1. Father Of Two

                  That does make sense why Sandra was so angry! As a single parent, she doesn’t have someone to depend on or receive support.

                  Therefore, it kind of makes sense to attack you for trying to learn more and do more as a father.

                  I hope more women are supportive of fathers wanting to learn. But your husband or partner died or abandoned you, I can see why a woman wouldn’t have a welcoming attitude.


          3. It is a joy for me to see any man writing about parenting at all. There is a continously shifting learning curve so to be called out for, “not having a clue”, well, that is laughable. No one does, really. It is really all an exercise in kindness, love and acts of service – for life. That’s all parenting is.

            Oh and look up the French method of sleep training, Sandra. They have it down and it is their norm for children to sleep through the night as early as one – to three months old. They are provided with sleep training coaches by their hospitals when that is not the case. Eye-opening!

            1. I agree, Ellie. It really is a joy to hear a man’s take on parenting. Sam takes this role so seriously and you can tell he puts a lot of thought into it. As a mother of 3, I really enjoy hearing his take on things.

              1. Thanks Margot. As a stay at home dad in a pandemic, children are on my mind 24/7. They are like my full-time job and I don’t want to mess it up since I’ve only got one chance!

                How is your husband/partner when it comes to parenting? Maybe I can learn some of the good things he does to incorporate them in my life.

    2. Phew! Talk about being the real judge mental person for a parent looking to understand his frustrations of raising two kids and helping other parents consider the true cost of raising kids.

      Yet you offer no insights.

      If you’re feeling guilty about having so many kids as a single working mother, that’s on you to figure out your demons.

      I found the takeaways of this post very insightful.

      1. Sandra S Snook

        Not one ounce of guilt – love my family and they turned out great. Loved my career too. But family was always my priority – and they know it.

        1. “I had a live-in nanny and then live out care until my kids graduated high school. I was fortunate I could afford this.”

          I’m glad you don’t have one ounce of guilt. Many parents I’ve talked to in forums and in person have felt tremendous guilt working a full-time job while another took car of their little ones. As a result, many parents decided to drop out of the work force.

          Hence, I would say many of us are all wired differently when it comes to parenting.

          Perhaps towards one extreme, there are parents who decided to accumulate more wealth so they could both be stay at home parents.

          And towards another extreme, are single parents who are OK with having many children, even if they have to spend most of their time at work.

          It’s up to every person to decide how they want to parent. Having an open discussion is healthy.

          May I ask what happened to the father of your biological children? thx

        2. Oh wow the ‘guilt’ factor: my very deeply considered thoughts:

          Parent/child dynamics for humans are very primal biological processes that ensure that progeny will live to continue the evolution of the species. Children have a primal sense whenever their primary caregiver is not focused ONE HUNDRED percent on THE CHILD. It is extreme and it is biological and it requires a conscious adult to understand that life will not end if the child is separated from the parent and placed under the care of another caring adult. There is nothing to be guilty about if you are building a relationship with your child in addition to having help. Again French parenting is really cognizant of this – my personal research led me to like-minds in the highly recommended book, Bringing Up Bebe:

          This primal effect is what makes your child interrupt your work calls or throw tantrums when you’re about to do ANY THING that is not related to them. It is powerfully intuitive. Contemporary parenting is meant to evolve this dynamic for the good of everyone including, obviously, the child.

    3. Sandra, why do you think that parents don’t influence a child’s trajectory in life? Do you not believe that your parenting efforts impacted how your own children developed and matured? How are your children as adults?

      Parenting is humbling yes. And it also has so much to do with teaching children values that influence the decisions they make as adults. I’m sure you taught all your children good values, right? Or do you feel guilty that you were unable to do so? It’s not clear because you are so focused on attacking Sam without sharing details about your own experience

      If you don’t think a lack of parental involvement caused Watson to turn to a life of crime and violence, please share what you think it was. I’d really like to hear your explanation.

      1. Sandra S Snook

        I don’t know what caused this young man to do what he did. I don’t know him or his family. That is the point I’m trying to make.

    4. It’s sad you think that parenting doesn’t make a huge difference in how kids turn out. That is an irresponsible viewpoint where are you shook your duties as a parent so you can feel less guilty about the way they turned out.

      And to also apologize for Antoine Watson’s parents it’s just a typical way a white person diminishes the her a crime against Asian Americans.

      1. Sandra S Snook

        1. I took my parenting very seriously. I did a good job parenting them. They turned out fine – more than fine.
        2. I am not excusing Mr. Watson’s parents – I do not know them. That is my point. They may have been horrible, they may have been great, or they may have been somewhere in between.
        3. My children cross multiple ethnicities and I have been transformed by seeing how the world sometimes treats them. I abhor the racially motivated violence that is growing in this country.

        You do not know me or my family.

    5. I agree with a Sandra. The segway was strange and inappropriate. Why you connected this murder to the cost of raising children is inconceivable.

      1. Agree. As a personal finance blog, you shouldn’t be talking about the cost of raising children and the income required to raise children.

        Thinking in tangents is inappropriate. You should only think linearly.

        To imply there’s more to the cost of raising 10 children than the cost of raising 10 children is unfair.

        And yes, I am also a white woman.

      2. @ Julie
        It’s just a very obvious connection to make and one that is on everyone’s mind – and therefore on the table for discussion. Far from “inconceivable”.

  16. People forget too that many women, trapped by unwanted pregnancy and poverty, are in horrible ‘marriages’. My mother was married to a man who refused birth control that was not available to her in the 60’s so she had two pregnancies – with me being the first – before she finally got a tubal ligation after a third unwanted pregnancy took hold thru the IUD she’d had placed after the second birth. That third child grew up to be an alcoholic and is totally estranged from the ‘family’. The entire family is estranged in fact. But she was terrified to raise children on welfare and so stayed in the marriage for the financial and social support. Her husband, my ‘father’, was otherwise generally benign. They finally divorced 30 years later after the children were raised and she was able to get a nursing degree so she could support herself. Every one of us is irrevocably damaged by my father’s lack of birth control and my mothers lack of courage. It happens. Make birth control education mandatory for school kids, boys especially, and focus on getting girls directly into higher education.

  17. Arinze Ejiofor

    Well analyzed article and on point. I do agree that it is not about the cost but the foundation and the attitude parents bring in raising their children. To be frank with you, the economic stressors are there and it is making many people delay having kids on time. I welcome the current proposal that is making through both chambers of the govt on child care assistance.

  18. Insightful article, Sam. My wife and I have 3 daughters. It’s a total team effort. If one or both parents are absentee from the home, the cycle of problems manifests and continues.
    Attacking anyone unprovoked, let alone an elderly person, is disgusting and reprehensible. One would have to wonder if there is a mental illness component at play.

    1. TacklingTriplets

      By far the biggest cost with kids is time and energy. The money is not the issue. There’s just not enough time in the day to do my job, work my side hustles, spend time with my kids, spend time with my wife and get quality sleep.

      Granted, my situation is more unique than most (triplets), but I’m confident it applies.

      1. Hope you check out the other comments in this post. Some parents are arguing that it’s all about prioritization and the amount of time spent is less important than quality time. I’m not sure how true this is or whether it’s a justification for spending less time with your kids. But it’s something to consider.

        Sandra has mentioned she raised 7 children as a single parent just fine. So perhaps you can draw on her as inspiration when times are difficult for you.

        That’s what I plan to do when I’m struggling.

        1. But she said her some of her children are adopted. Were they all infants? And if some were old enough to provide the childcare assistance she would obviously need then that’s the support most families do not have – aside from the question of the demand it puts on the older kids. If they were all adopted as infants then surely she had a nanny.

          Who cared for the infants while she was at work? There is a lot of missing info in this story that would likely prove the point of support = expense etc.

    2. Very good analysis Sam, I fully agree. I have only one daughter because juggling full time super busy jobs with travel for both me and my husband, with no family remotely close by, and only one set of grandparents who live 9 hours drive away and difficulty finding good babysitter (I am against having at home19/20/21 year old au pair like some people in or shoes does, but there were some bad stories on that too), it was too difficult to manage a second one. Money was never the issue. Now my daughter has gone off to college and it is very lonely at home specially with pandemic I am at home alone working almost a year (my husband works at ER so he goes to work every day..), i keep wishing that I have one child at home..

      1. Sorry to hear about the loneliness. Hopefully things will get better in 6-12 months. Actually, I’m sure it will.

        How do you feel when you hear about single parents having 7 children or couples having 10 children?

        I wonder how they can do it all. I hope to get more tips from parents who have 4+ children.

  19. Oh wow that is such a sad and shocking story. I hope Watson is incarcerated and that troubled youths can learn from his clearly violent and lethal mistakes. The violence in teens and young adults really scares me. I definitely think that a lack of parental involvement is a major factor in violence. And I’m sure mental illness is as well in many cases. Which in turn is also why parental involvement is so important because being attentive parents can recognize when a child is struggling with mental health and can then seek medical help and counseling so that the child can learn coping mechanisms and get the additional support they need. We really need to break the cycle of violence and hate crimes in our country.

    Personally, I can not fathom having ten children. I don’t think I could even handle four, at least not in the way I would want to even if that was my only job. My heart goes out to the thousands of neglected and abandoned young children out there who are lonely and struggling through no fault of their own.

  20. FocusOnFamily

    Our family makes $250k a year and due to not have family help within 3000 miles, having an impossible sleeper, along with feeling 100% fulfilled with our child we decided against having further children. We also like the idea of knowing all our resources can be poured into one child. We also will be able to support her 100% in young adulthood, financially and in person if our plan to retire when she graduates college comes to fruition. If she wants us to move to be closer to her when she grows up, we won’t have to choose which child to move closer to.

    Our only fear was loneliness for her, and fear of losing 1 child being more painful for us if we didn’t have another child to focus our attention away from our grief. But we realized the loneliness for her can be eased by getting her involved in many activities with peers. And having a “spare” child based solely on fear of losing the first in the 21st century isn’t as practical as it was centuries ago.

    1. I feel you 100% on fear of losing a child. Regarding loneliness, she has you guys :) And, she will make friends.

      I’m wondering though… given I wrote that $300,000 was enough to raise 10 children, are you beginning to wonder whether you are too conservative in not having another?

      This was one of my main takeaways from writing this article. I felt i needed way more wealth than necessary before having our first. In reality, plenty of people are having way more children with much less wealth.

  21. I now have 3 daughters and it does take a lot of time, mostly my my wife’s time since I am working so much (in pharmaceuticals). I also wish I had had kids sooner, but it took me that long to find someone who would date me, and then after we got married, she had health issues took priority.

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