Depreciating the Value of Children

A 2017 U.S. Department of Agriculture report estimated the cost of raising a child was $233,610. That figure from an editorial by Janie B. Cheaney in the February 2024 edition of World Magazine caught my attention, but it was Cheaney’s closing sentence that captured not only my mind but my heart. (I’ll share the almost electrical sentence later.)

First, I shall revisit Psalm 127:
“Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.
Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.” (Psalm 127:3–5, ESV)

I understand that Psalm 127 was composed by a poet living in an agrarian culture when sons labored alongside their fathers to raise livestock and to harvest fruit and grain. Modern city dwellers seldom need children as co-laborers to provide for the family.

The Bible consistently values children and calls for the protection of orphans. Jesus delighted in children and rebuked his disciples for attempting to keep them at bay. A child served as Jesus’ example of “saving faith” when he said that unless we come to God as a child, we cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

China, Japan and several nations are facing a potential economic crisis because of low birth rates. Their population is aging with fewer young people to replace their elders who are dying. After decades of China’s “one child policy” and now, even with government funding encouraging parents to have more children, the decline in childbirths continues. It is no longer a matter of the cost of rearing a child but the inconvenience of parenting.Sadly, that is not just a China problem or mindset.

Cheaney points out that estimating the cost of raising a child began after Roe v. Wade. Coincidence? Reproductive freedom—the slogan of today’s culture—has become a license to eliminate anybody that makes life less convenient. Today it is a baby; tomorrow? How about the infirm and elderly?

So, now, I share Janie B. Cheaney’s parting shot:
“When did we start talking about what they cost instead of what they’re worth?”