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(LifeSiteNews) – Raising a child does not have to cost an arm and a leg, but it does require sacrifice and prudence when it comes to how money is spent and the way family life is structured. 

The Brookings Institution, a liberal think tank, recently reported that the cost of raising a child from birth to age 17 is now $300,000, or about $18,000 per year.  

The researcher behind the report, Isabel Sawhill, supports abortion and has argued that banning the killing of babies will “create more inequality of opportunity for children.” She argued in 2014 that policymakers should give up on encouraging marriage and just accept that marriage is disappearing as an institution and make sure women have cheap birth control. Not exactly a champion of the nuclear family. 

The analysis counts in expenses like food and clothes, but also throws in more costs that are not real necessities. The report “covers a range of expenses, including housing, food, clothing, healthcare and child care, and accounts for childhood milestones and activities—diapers, haircuts, sports equipment and dance lessons, among other costs,” according to the Wall Street Journal, which had an exclusive on reporting the results. 

Some of those “other costs” include “nannies, preschools and nursery schools,” which are “one of the greatest costs for most families,” according to one expert the newspaper spoke to for the article. 

But a nanny is not a necessary cost. A 2017 analysis by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that high-income families spend twice as much raising a kid as low-income families, which shows that much of what is considered a “cost” is excessive. 

There is a way for families to raise kids for less than $300,000 but it requires serious conversations about mothers working outside of the home and what a family really needs to be content with life and what is important.  

The primary purpose of raising children must be to get them to Heaven. 

The financial cost of both parents holding full-time jobs outside of the home, when coupled with the harm to the family, makes it a better decision in almost all cases for the mother to be at home. 

Consider that the costs include not just daycare, but money and time spent driving to and from work, getting ready for a job, less time to take care of the household and a tired-out family. Do we need to review the ways that public, and private schools, can pervert the values of children and scandalize them? 

A mom at home can search for deals on clothes, groceries, and home items and cook nutritious meals instead of buying seed oil-filled fast food. She can also care for and educate children in the faith while teaching them right from wrong. 

Children also will see the sacrifices their parents make and absorb that for their own life, when they have to give up some pleasures and luxuries to support their own families. Watching dad work hard to provide financially while mom works hard to stretch a dollar and make do with less is an excellent way to model bearing sufferings for a greater good. 

A shift to a home-focused life is required – mom doesn’t go work “out there” for someone else and the kids don’t go “out there” to daycare or travel baseball. Parents and kids enjoy time at home reading together, in their neighborhood going for walks or at church going to daily Mass. 

And the “home” can include extended family, friends, church and neighbors who band together to enjoy time together and help each other out with babysitting and hand-me-down clothes. 

The focus must be on creating the home as the center of family life, not other places. The philosophical approach to life drives our spending. 

So, if the focus is on climbing the corporate ladder and making more and more money not to provide for basic needs but to buy nicer things, then the costs of raising children will go up, because you “need” that new car and bigger home. 

But once you decide that the purpose of your life is to raise virtuous, healthy, and faith-filled children, the costs will drop. And the benefits are eternal. 

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Matt lives in northwest Indiana with his wife and son. He has a B.A. in Political Science with minors in Economics and Catholic Studies from Loyola University, Chicago. He has an M.A. in Political Science and a graduate certificate in Intelligence and National Security from the University of Nebraska, Omaha. He has worked for Students for Life of America, Students for Life Action, Turning Point USA and currently is an associate editor for The College Fix.