Someone asked me the other day if she could hire someone to parent her daughter, or at least take her somewhere and have it done. Here’s the kicker: she was serious.
In jest, I told her I would do it for her, but she probably couldn’t afford me. The more I think about it, though, the more I realize that I hire out the parenting of my children often. In fact, I work part-time to cover the cost of having other people train my children, and I make no apology for it. I have six children, and it is physically impossible for me to meet all of their needs all of the time, not to mention the emotional strain of it all. My solution is to hire it out. Here’s a breakdown of the costs:
Preschool: $30.o0 a month (a screamin’ deal!)
Piano lessons: $100.00 a month (another screamin’ deal)
Violin lessons: $45 a lesson, about $180-$225 monthly, depending on the month
Cello lessons: $75 a lesson, about $300-$375 monthly, depending on the month
Soccer: $200 a season, plus equipment
Cub Scouts: nominal
Boy Scouts: a few hundred a year, including trips
Church youth groups: free
In the past, we have also had the kids enrolled in swimming lessons, tae kwon do, flag football, basketball, cheerleading and dance. We have sent them to church camps, and this year we are sending our oldest daughter to China with her youth orchestra. This set us back about $3900. Ican’t even BEGIN to estimate the cost of the gas and tires I have burned through to get the kids to all of these activities. We aren’t wealthy, but I have the opportunity to earn the money to cover these costs, and at times we have had the kids help pay for their activities through fund raisers.
What we get for the investment:
The kids learn to play a musical instrument. Research states that the study of music will help sharpen math skills. I’m not sure if it works that way for my kids, but I do know that it sharpens other skills that may be even more useful in their lives. They are required to spend time every day to practice these instruments. They are expected to progress and produce results and to respect the knowledge and authority of their teachers. Through music lessons, my children expand their brains and creativity and learn to keep going, and they learn that quitting is not an option when things get difficult. This is money well spent.
The kids learn the skills and rules associated with several sports. They gain an appreciation for physical fitness and what their bodies are capable of. Sports teach them to work with others, be part of a team, and to follow rules. The kids learn to respect their coach, follow directions, and they begin to understand their responsibility to others socially. They learn to show up, even when they’re tired or don’t feel like it. They learn how to win gracefully, and they learn how to lose, again and again, and still have their dignity and self-respect.
The scouting program is incredibly valuable in raising boys! My boys have learned skills that will come in handy in their lives, but more importantly, they learn what it means to be a boy and eventually a man. The Boy Scout Promise states,
“On my honor, I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.”
Furthermore, they are taught that a scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. Why wouldn’t I rush my boys to the front row of an organization that teaches these values and character traits?
Through our church youth organization, my children make associations with other kids who share their values and beliefs, and gain support in living these values and beliefs. They build a social network of people who are trying to do the right thing.
I’m not naiive enough to think my methods are fool-proof; I know my children are individuals and that they may not choose to follow the path I’d like them to. But, when I look outside my front door at the kids hanging out on my street until all hours of the night, bragging about their multiple suspensions from school and their latest escapades of disrespect, I’m grateful that I have hired out a little bit of my parenting to give MY kids something better to do. I’m spending a little money to increase my chances of producing six amazing people who will make a beneficial contribution to society as a whole. I think I’m getting a GREAT deal!