Affording School

Speaking of the high costs of raising a child…education is expensive. From kindergarten through college, school costs money…and lots of it! Even though public schools are provided by the U.S. government, they may not be the route you want to take. In my family of five kids, we’ve all been through different stages of private, Catholic and public schools. And all of them have incurred various costs. From pencils and binders to uniforms and tuition, my parents have footed the bill. And here Sarah Gilbert explains how these costs are increasing and “technology” fees are becoming more and more prevalent. As I was thinking about how large families get by, while covering all these school-related expenses, it dawned on me that many of the large families back home are home-schooled. The U.S. government spends about $8,000 per student to have them educated from elementary school through high school graduation. $2,500 of this is spent on materials and supplies, which homeschoolers must also pay for. And if one parent is devoting their day to educating the children, they aren’t bringing in income from a job outside the home.

But regardless of what kind of school you attend, being poor may be advantageous. Kids from low-income households that fall at or below the poverty line qualify for reduced or free meals (breakfast and lunch) at public schools. The students at my Catholic school who really couldn’t afford to be there, received financial support from the local parishes. And when it comes to attending college, these students are eligible for state grants to get a degree, whereas kids from middle to higher incomes don’t qualify for these and either have to foot the bill, or take out loans. Yes, there are scholarships out there, but there are very few generic ones. Most of them are directed at very specific students and many of them have a “need-based” requirement. Many fail to look at the fact that some of these students whose parents make a middle-class salary are trying to get multiple kids through college (at the same time). Although there are very few scholarships for college-goers with many siblings, you may want to check out if your university offers up any tuition discounts for families who have more than one kid attending their school.

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Affording Children

In my last post, I mentioned some famous families with multiple children. Now, having your own reality TV show provides a pretty decent income. But how do ordinary large families cover the costs of so many kids?According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average middle-class, two-parent household will spend about $226,920 raising a child from birth to age 18. So parents who plan on putting their child through college can expect the cost to increase to about $290,000. Of course, these numbers will vary, depending on your income, marital status, locations, and spending habits. Baby Center has a nifty cost calculator that will estimate how much your child will cost, depending on these factors. But no matter what your financial statuses are, the bottom line is that raising children is expensive. So, if one child (including college) costs nearly $300,000. That means caring for 5 kids through college is close to $1,500,000. And if you’re really ambitious like the Duggar or Bates families, then this number jumps to nearly $5,700,000! Now, “The Big Payoff: Educational Attainment and Synthetic Eestimates of Work-Life Earnings” reports that the average high school graduate will earn about $1.2 million in their lifetime. Yes, this number increases as your education increases: bachelor’s degress are worth about $2.1 million, master’s degrees are aroun $2.5 million, Ph.D’s are worth around $3.4 million, and professional degrees will bring in about $4.4 million in a lifetime. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 84% of American adults have acquired a high school diploma and 26% of those graduates have gone on to earn a bachelor’s degree or higher. That means that about 58% of American adults are only going to make about $1.2 million in their lifetime. Raising three kids would pretty much mean spending all your income as it comes in and not being able to put any away in savings. Having kids is a huge investment. But, authors Frank Bunker Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernistine Gilbreth Carey would say that kids come Cheaper by the Dozen. The jist of this is that each subsequent child costs less than than previous one, which makes sense, if you’ve hopefully kept old baby clothes, bottles, cribs, toys, etc. Theoretically, if all but the oldest child are receiving hand-me-downs, then those children will cost less. Plus, families with many children tend to be more creative when living on a tighter budget, so when extra money rolls in, it’s easy to put it straight into savings.

What are the benefits of having many children when they cost so much money? Single people tend to be able to travel more and can afford bigger and better and newer cars, electronics, etc. for themselves. And yet so many people choose to have kids (or at least to keep their accidents) over a single-person’s carefree lifestyle. What do you think?

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Some Famous Large Families

I thought it’d be fun to map out the hometowns of some of the U.S.’s famous large families, as well as my own (the Cordoniers).

Here I’ve plotted the homes of the Kardashians, the Gosselins, the Duggars, the Bates, and the Brady Bunch. These five famous families are drastically different in pretty much every way, except for the fact that they are large familes. Let me break them down:

The Kardashians: This blended family of eight is parented by Bruce Jenner and Kris (Kardashian) Jenner. Kris had four children (Kourtney, Kim, Khloe, and Rob) with lawyer Robert Kardashian (famous for the O.J. Simpson trial). She then remarried Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner and had two more daughters (Kendall and Kylie). The Kardashians are famous for being famous.

The Gosselins: Jon and Kate started out as an ordinary couple, just longing to raise a family. However, after having a set of twins and a set of sextuplets, they gained fame through the TV show “Jon & Kate Plus 8”. Their twins (Cara and Mady) were born on October 8th, 2000 and their sextuplets (Alexis, Hannah, Aaden, Collin, Leah, and Joel) were born on May 10th, 2004. Their show ran on Discovery Health and TCL from 2007-2011. Unfortunately, Jon and Kate’s marriage ended in a messy divorce in 2009.

The Duggars: Jim Bob and Michelle are the proud parents of 19 kids (Joshua, Jana, John-David, Jill, Jessa, Jinger, Joseph, Josiah, Joy-Anna, Jedidiah, Jeremiah, Jason, James, Justin, Jackson, Johannah, Jennifer, Jordyn-Grace, and Josie). They’ve received a lot of criticism for their decision to forego birth control completely. This Arkansas family preaches of a home-grown church and is innovative when it comes to grocery shopping and doing laundry. Unfortuantely, they lost their 20th child, Jubilee, via a miscarriage during Michelle’s second trimester. Through their four-season long (and continuing) TV show “19 Kids and Counting”, they are known for being America’s most famous large family.

The Bates: Long-time friends of the Duggars, Gil and Kelly Bates also boast a large brood. This Eastern Tennessee family also has 19 children (Zach, Michaella, Erin, Lawson, Nathan, Alyssa, Tori, Trace, Carlin, Josie, Katie, Jackson, Warden, Isaiah, Addallee, Ellie Bridget, Callie-Anna, Judson Wyatt, and Jeb).  Their 19th child, Jeb, was just born on February 1st, 2012. They’ve finally caught up to the Duggars!

The Brady Bunch: Yes, the Brady Bunch is a fictional family. However, they are one of the most iconic TV familes. This blended family came together when widower Mike Brady married widow Carol. Mike had three sons (Greg, Peter, and Bobby) and Carol had three daughters (Marcia, Jan, and Cindy) from previous marriages.

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Abortion

Yes, this is a highly controversial topic that is probably best left undiscussed. But I thought I should bring it up in light of my last post that discussed China’s One Child Policy. In continuing my research, I came across some abortion statistics worldwide. According to The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, there are approximately 42 million abortions performed each year. Of these, about 13 million occur each year in China, alone. That’s 31% of the world’s abortions, all taking place within one country.

Source: Wm. Robert Johnson's "Global Abortion Summary"

China’s numbers are significantly higher because so many female infants are aborted, simply because they’re female. And you can see that the metropolitan areas of China, where the One Child Policy is most strictly enforced, are the areas with the highest percentages of abortions. The map below shows China, North Korea, and Vietnam as the only countries who currently have forced abortions.

Source: Wm. Robert Johnson's "Global Abortion Summary"

Forced abortions are a tragic issue that many Chinese parents (but specifically mothers) have to go through. Here’s one pregnant mother’s story of how she was imprisoned and her unborn fetus was poisoned: China’s One Child Policy by AlJazeeraEnglish.

Usually the fear of unreasonbly high government fines are enough to encourage abortions. But in some cases, imprisonment and forced abortion ensue, like in Xiao Ai Ying’s case. And abortions aren’t the only issue…the majority of the million orphans abandoned each year in China are healthy females and these daughters are twice as likely to die within thier first year of life, than their male counterparts, according to the awareness organization, All Girls Allowed. Here’s a quick video that will help explain how this drastic decrease in China’s female population is negatively affecting the country:

How far would you go to protect and raise your daughter?

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Child Limits

America is known as being the “land of freedom”, where we’re able to do pretty much whatever we want, as long as it’s not harmful to another human being. So, the thought of putting limits on the number of children we can bear sounds unlawful. But, there are countries in the world that have done this.

This government sign in China reads "Please, for the sake of your country, use birth control."

In an effort to control its overwhelming population, China has put into place a “FamilyPlanning Policy”. This policy (introduced in 1979) restricts married couples who live in cities to having only one child. Exceptions to this policy are made for ethnic minorities and couples who live in rural areas. Also, parents whose first child is a girl, can apply to have a second child. That being said, about 36% of China’s population is subject to this policy. It’s said that the policy will stay in place until 2018.

However, this policy has had some negative side effects: About.com Guide Matt Rosenberg discusses how this rule has caused contempt for baby girls. This also unfortunately means that many duaghters are aborted, are subject to infanticide, or are abandoned/put up for adoption.

Rwanda officials are now pushing for a three-child limit on  its citizens because the current rate of six to seven children a woman is taking a toll on the already dwindling water supply. This iscreasing demand on the lacking water supply could create further political tensions. The same goes for Uganda. Its population is predicted to increase at the same rate as Rwanda’s.

Here in the states we don’t ever really have to go without anything. That being said, could you imagine what it would be like if you were told you had a limit on how many children you could bear? As members of large families, can you picture how drastically different our lives would be if we were reduced to such a small unit?

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Wickedness of large families

I recently came across some interesting articles that stress just how burdensome large families are on the environment. This article didn’t just state how large families consume more than small families–No, it states, “THE MOST serious evil of our times is that of encouraging the bringing into the world of large families. The most immoral practice of the day is breeding too many children.” The article addresses possible counter arguments about prostitution, war, child labor, etc. as being the worst evils in our world, but overrules those as being related to having too many children. For example, it reads that prostitution happens because mothers have too many kids that they can’t provide for, so their daughters are forced to bring in money by selling their bodies. The article also states (without any real explanation) that the planet’s overpopulation is the basic cause of war. It goes on to say that the parents of more than two children will never be able to support the needs and desires of their kids, and will therefore create helpless human beings who will be drains on society. From here it goes on to say that large families are essentially just waste factories; that all we do is drain the planet and society of its resources. Basically this article ranted about how large families are what will cause this planet to finally give up.

I can’t tell you how offended I was after reading this article. First of all, my parents had five kids and neither me nor my sister have had to turn to prostitution to help support our family financially. Secondly, my parents have raised us to be competent, respectful, productive members of society. They’ve taught us the value of hard work and the resulting value of a dollar. They’ve taken care of everything, while teaching us how to take care of ourselves. And finally, I’d like to point out that we recycle so much, it’s not even funny. Seriously, we recycle everything. In fact, we easily put out two bins of recycling a week, and less than half of a trash can of garbage each weeks. In contrast, the neighbors (who are a household of four) put out three to four full trash cans a week. So you really can’t just simply categorize large families as being the only (or main) contributors to the destruction of society and Planet Earth. In fact, because large families often have to further divide up resources (such as income), it’s in our nature to be conservative with resources and we automatically use less than someone who feels as if they can “afford” to throw stuff away.

A mother of 11 shares her take on similar accusations against large families at this link.

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Serious Blogging is Not for the Faint of Heart

I originially chose to give insight on life in a large family, because I thought, “Hey, I’ve been going through this for the past 21.5 years of my life; I got this.” So, I made a list of some possible blog ideas that I thought would keep me going for awhile. Then blog-a-day week came along and pretty much cleaned out my stash. I was afraid of totally draining my sources, so I tried to take a branch of one of my ideas and expand on it, making it a post that could stand alone. It certainly got easier, deciding what could stand on its own and what information really should remain part of a larger idea. It was a little difficult to avoid totally garbage posts. Sometimes I would slap together a post, then have to go back a practically rewrite the whole because what I had just simply wasn’t going to cut it. This week I was definitely forced to go through my blog roll and stay up-to-date on other peoples’ blogs in my field. I also started researching more of what’s going on with large families in the news and science-related fields of study/research. This week I definitely became more familiarized with searching in various places for topic ideas. But it was still frustrating trying to get in a legitimate post every day. I have a deeper respect now for bloggers who blog every day on real news issues.

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