The American family unit is the backbone of our country. The traditional family structure is considered to be a support system involving two married individuals, providing care and stability for their biological offspring. However, this two-parent, nuclear family has become less prevalent, and alternative lifestyles and family situations have become more common in modern times. But no matter how the family unit is made up, it is still and always will be an essential part of our DNA as an American culture.
Stresses on this family core can be many and varied, but money, as it turns out, can be one of the largest factors of all. A survey by the American Psychological Association (APA) shows that money causes major stress between partners, and some of the statistics are quite shocking. Money is a significant source of stress for the majority of Americans but even more so for parents. Seventy-seven percent of parents have said they were stressed about money.
It makes sense if you think about it. Adding a child to the family represents a major financial challenge. The cost of raising a child today can be astronomical at times. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it is $233,610 – excluding the cost of college – for a middle-income family. [1.1]You can see how this would be a stressful situation when considering the average income in American families. The 2017 median household income was $61,372.
Parents are also less likely than non-parenting Americans overall to report being financially secure. It seems that parents are anxious about their finances, and it really is no surprise with the fluctuating economy — being responsible for a growing family cannot be easy. Kids require investment, both in terms of time and money.
For starters, parents have to consider clothes, food, healthcare, childcare, school supplies, entertainment, and let’s not forget diapers and all the many, many things that were previously not in the budget before a baby came along. And that is all before you enter the crazy world of schools and their fees. Private schools can command fees in excess of $40,000 per year. Of course, not everyone is sending their kids to private school, but even though public schools have free tuition, there are other costs involved; supplies, gas to take them to and from school, missed time at work for one reason or another, and on and on goes the list.
Statistics show that 70 percent of married couples argue about money, and that number rises to
80 percent when those couples have children younger than 18. As if fighting about cash were not bad enough, Americans seem to be not only panicking about it and taking their frustrations out on their significant other but also drifting apart physically as well. Sixty percent of husbands and wives said that they check their bank accounts more than they have sex. Not a particularly healthy state to be in as a couple.
Money should not be something that divides a family but rather brings them together. If American families can learn to plan together and talk openly and honestly about their financial situations and their goals with their partner, then they will be one step closer to long-term security and happiness.
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