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Raising Children: The Sacrifices and Rewards

sister hugging brotherA little over a week ago, I was scanning through Satellite Radio and stumbled on an old Oprah Winfrey show. It’s not a station I listen to regularly, but I caught her statement at the right time in my commute. She said “I chose to NOT have children because it’s the ultimate sacrifice. I never really seriously considered having children.” She went on to talk about her career aspirations and how the path she chose let her accomplish those. Her comment really caused me to think about my own sacrifices, especially with my son JUST turning 4 years old.

There are many sacrifices you make when you become a parent, but here are the Top 9 that come to my mind. Remember though, for every sacrifice there is an even bigger reward.

1. Sacrifice: Sleep – And not just in the infant stages. With kids who are bursting to wake up with the sun, I long for one lazy day where I can sleep in, in my bed, in my house. I’m convinced I’ll be waiting until both kids are in college. 

  • Reward: Regular Snuggle Time Early morning wake-ups from super warm, delicious-smelling kids who crawl into our bed and help us gradually come out of sleep.

2. Sacrifice: Travel Some couples have no problem traveling long distances for extended times without their kids. I can’t. So on hold for now is a trip to Greece, Italy, Wine Country in CA, Hawaii and about a dozen other places I’d love to explore.

  • Reward: Family Travel A reason to visit Disney World. Opportunities to watch your children fill with wonder and amazement during the smallest of trips.

3. Sacrifice: Lazy Nights I remember when I used to come home from work and sit on the couch for a few hours watching Jeopardy and shows of my choice. I’d eat leftovers or perhaps I’d eat an artichoke paired with brie and crackers (yeah, that was a normal dinner years ago!). Gone are those days.

  • Reward: Random Fits of Laughter – Evenings filled with lots of laughter as a result of old school games like hot potato, made up games like “You Can’t Catch Me” and the constant attempts from little kids trying to make you giggle.

4. Sacrifice: Career Growth I don’t care what any working mother says, it’s darn near impossible to climb the ladder when you are mothering young children. For those who have done this, I envy you.

  • Reward: Work/Life Balance I am fortunate to have balance.  I get to enjoy millions of moments with my kids and the whole family, an opportunity that won’t last forever.

5. Sacrifice: Vacation Home  Not everyone wants a vacation home, but if we didn’t have child-related expenses and college to think about, I’m convinced we’d own a vacation home by now, even if it were just a small one bedroom!  Oh and if we COULD afford a vacation home, nothing sounds less appealing than house hunting at a distance with young kids in tow.

  • Reward:  Our Home We may not have a 2nd home but I feel blessed everyday that we have a 1st home filled with love, laughter, memories made, memories to be had and 2 beautiful children,  a dog, a husband… our complete family.

6. Sacrifice:  Further Education I’d love to get another degree.  I would love the opportunity to learn, share ideas and provide myself a chance for career growth. The reality is, right now it’s not feasible in terms of time or finances.  Perhaps one day.

  • Reward: Life’s Lessons While I may not be actively learning in an educational setting, my kids teach me something new each day. I love learning from them and having them share their knowledge. I’ve learned all sorts of things about inch worms, sea creatures, how to make a pinch pot and a world of other interesting facts . And above all, I love watching them learn.

7. Sacrifice: More Time to be Creative Looking at the birthday party posts I’ve written, you’d think I was satisfied with this one. But, there’s so much more I’d like to try and with much less stress. From new recipes, to new organizational techniques to just general crafts. Heck, I’d love some time to just put together photo albums (which I’m behind on by two years) but then again, without kids in my life, I’d probably have very little to put into albums!

  • Reward: Inspiring Creativity – So I may not get the opportunity to try out many new recipes but I have these adorable little sous chefs who get absolute pleasure out of helping me make eggs or pizza or cookies and test new things out in the process.  I love when they try to figure out new ways to transform the house during the different holidays and how excited they get when they come up with a new idea for how to use something.

8. Sacrifice: Relaxing Weekends – It’s kind of like those lazy nights. In another life it was an easy decision to go for a walk, stay in bed all day, go get my nails done, leisurely shop (for me) or meet friends for lunch. It’s just not that easy to do once you have kids.  

  • Reward:  Chaos – Weekends filled with birthday parties, soccer practices, trips to the zoo and trying to convince the kids that yard work is a fun family activity (especially if yard work involves bubble blowing and riding bikes).

9. Sacrifice:  Financial Freedom As a parent, many of your decisions are financially driven. How you spend your money and how you save it. That’s true for most people but when you are a parent you have to consider the impact of these decisions on more than just you and potentially a significant other since you are financially responsible for more than just you. And the reality is, with dependents, you have a lot more financial burden. It’s expensive to have kids. In fact, they say a child from birth until 18 years of age will cost parents an average of $200,000-$500,000 over the course of their childhood.

  • Reward: Unconditional love – It’s all worth it. What’s the saying? You can’t put a price tag on love? Well, you can’t. The love you give and receive when you have children is like nothing else you will ever experience. That unconditional love is worth every single sacrifice and then some.

4 comments

  1. joeval andrew dela cruz April 18, 2015 at 12:02 pm

    Comparatively, having a child is a fullfillment and gratefulness that you gave a life to your child literally. Even you sacrifices a lot of things to your personal happiness but you recieve much happiness by seing your child happy after what you did to them in such a simple way but meaningful event to their life each day.
    you can develop friendship to your child anyways, which the’ll never left you thru thick and thins, even in the hardest way. But havinf a friend literally, they’re always there when they gain from you but a friend which is also your child they’ll live right beside you always and forever no matter what, how,and why.

  2. David Saslav August 28, 2015 at 6:36 pm

    Nice article. Your “Sacrifices” are all spot on target, IMHO. Your “Rewards” however tend toward the pollyanna-ish or “best case” scenarios. For instance, your whole article is predicated on a fairly normative assumption (ten fingers, ten toes, healthy brain, etc.). Many of your “Rewards” do not accrue to parents who are unlucky enough to give birth to children without one or more of the blessings that most of us take for granted.

    Also, I can’t tell you how many new parents I have spoken with, who blame their own parents for their current maladies, social issues and financial problems, and therefore have no intention of letting their parents “infect” their kids — “we’re going to raise them the right way instead”.

    Your final takeaway – in fact all your points – would be strengthened by adding postscripts starting with “Assuming…”

    E.g., “Assuming you wind up raising kids who decide to love you unconditionally”.

    In sum – the Return on Investment of having children is undisputably negative from the financial standpoint, as you rightly conclude – and “disputably” positive, assuming several best-case assumptions play out, from the spiritual/emotional perspective.

    NB: I am child-free by choice and have listened to friends discussing these tradeoffs for years – in other words, these are not first-hand observations and likely somewhat biased.

  3. David Saslav August 28, 2015 at 6:40 pm

    PS: Your projections on financial investment range needed over 18 years would be more helpful to prospective parents if it were extended to include college tuition and expenses, from age 18-22, given the skyrocketing cost on that front. Fortunately there is the 529 fund, a marvellous give-back to parents, but the range should be $500,000-1,500,000 over 22 years.

  4. Pingback: Still Waiting For Your Reward, Mom? - Make Your Perfect |

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