Without fail, every few months national magazines and news programs feature stories about, “The Cost of Raising a Child.” It’s usually parents of small children who pay the most attention to these features, because they’re new to the game and are still gathering information about the enormous responsibility children are—emotionally and financially.
When our kids are small, it's easy to impose limits and set rules because, well, they're physically smaller than us and we can pretty much inflict our desire at will. If I can pick you up and have the power to rock you to sleep, things are easy. Meal times, food choices, play date partners, all of these things are almost completely within parental control. I put the food down, you eat it, I tuck you in, you sleep, I drive you to Sarah's house to play because her mom feeds you a healthy lunch as opposed to simply leaving an econo-size tub of Nutella within reach.
There are consequences to everything in life. What was it they taught us in physics class? Every action has a reaction? Something like that. I can't be sure because during physics class I was cutting class at home making grilled cheese sandwiches and watching "The Flintstones."
My teenage daughter doesn’t work. Okay, she empties the dishwasher (sometimes) and she’ll blow dry her brother’s hair (he’s high maintenance), but beyond school and homework she doesn’t “work” for any financial gain. She’s never been a fan of babysitting as she’s not a fan of children in general and she’s found that responding “Ugh!” to “How do you feel about toddlers?” doesn’t secure much repeat employment in that realm.
Teenagers can be notoriously quiet when it comes to conversing with their parents. My daughter will often go all day without a word uttered, but if a friend is here, they don’t come up for air unless I slide a pizza under the bedroom door. My daughter is constantly on me for asking her too many questions, and it’s true; I do. And if you have teenage kids, I bet you ask them too many questions.
I have a teenage daughter, which, according to my nonsensical mathematical prowess, should entitle me to free chocolate until she’s twenty-one and also maybe a sparkly crown of some sort. If you have — or have had — one of these mystical teenage creatures, you understand what I am talking about.