OKLAHOMA CITY -
Ask any parent. The cost of raising kids these days is staggering. The latest government figures put the cost of raising one child from birth to 18 years old at around $241,000. That doesn't include college.
"I'm not amazed by it," said mom of 3, Lena Moralez. "I know it's true!" Parents like Roger Baker, a father of 8, have seen that cost climb over time. "Over the last couple of years, I've seen just how much even a gallon of milk has gone up," he said.
But before you go wishing for the way it was, OCU economics professor and executive director of the Steven C. Agee Economic Research and Policy Institute, Russell Evans, says not so fast. The statistics for 1960 left out one important and unknown cost category.
"There was a cost to the homemaker of staying home and providing childcare to the family, and the cost was the foregone income they could have earned if they were working," he said.
In Oklahoma, full-time care for an infant averages around $7,300 a year. Single-mom Anitria Wright relies on family members to watch her 4 children so she can work full-time. Without them, she says affording child care would be impossible.
"It would be hard enough with 1 or 2 kids. But especially not with 4," said Wright. "I couldn't imagine doing it 100% myself".
With child care costs out of reach for so many, Dr. Evans says we could eventually see a return to more stay-at-home parents, perhaps more dads.
"I read these stories about more men choosing to stay home, and I have to believe maybe that's a reflection the daycare model is not sustainable."
As parents struggle to make it work, they tell us they wouldn't change a thing. Even if it meant all those hundreds of thousands of dollars back in their pockets.
"It wouldn't make a bit of difference," said Baker. "When you truly love your family, there are no exceptions to the rule. They're your family."