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Every day we are faced with the obstacle of making choices that range from what delicious recipe to make to what career path would be the best for my future. Each choice that we make has an opportunity cost and either takes an economic toll on us or reaps a reward. Our lives are constantly influenced by economic trends such as inflation, interest rates and economic growth. Some things we may have little control over and can tremendously change our lives and other things we have more control over.
From a personal perspective, economics frames numerous choices I make regarding my leisure, education, career, consumption etc. By participating in this semester’s economics class, I have a better understanding of how the world works and how to make better decisions based off of thinking from an economical mindset. Economics “offers a tool with which to approach questions about the desirability of a particular financial investment opportunity, whether or not to attend college of graduate school, the benefits and costs of alternative careers, and the likely impacts of public polices” (Department of Economics). One major area economics has helped my decision-making skills and offered that tool was in is parenting.
When it comes to raising our children, there are a great deal of different perspectives. For a better understanding of how economics may apply to parenting, here are two examples concerning tantrums and spankings and time outs. I know everyone has heard of the terrible two’s, for my son it was more like the terrible three’s. A major battle with kids the age of two or three are the temper tantrums. Based off of plenty of evidence, a lot of temper tantrums occur when kids are tired, bored, hungry or over-stimulated. Envision you were out shopping with a two year all day and you wanted to squeeze in one last trip to the grocery store. The benefit would be less trips to the store that week and more items on your to-do list completed. The opportunity cost of that time saving would be the two-year-old breaking down in aisle five with a tantrum because they have reached their limit.
Another example would be how you discipline your child. Many parents nowadays frown upon spanking and lean more towards time outs. If your child misbehaves, we may spank them and hope they tie that unhappy experience with their behavior and will discontinue that specific behavior. The costs of chronic spanking however may lead to long term disobedience and violence according to some studies. Would the short-term solution of spanking be with the long-term cost? Would the long-term cost of using time outs as a discipline method be more productive than spanking? These are things that economics can help us to decide when it comes to parenting. As parents, it is hard being in the moment, holding on to all of our patience and investing in the work to get through those tough issues, but rest assure the benefits will greatly outweigh the costs.
As a parent, I have learned to weigh the expected costs and benefits of implementing my preferred parenting methods. When it comes to my parenting style, I believe that the authoritative style best reflects me best as a parent. “The authoritative style is one where parents attempt to influence their children’s choices, but they do so by reasoning with them and by shaping their values, rather than through command and discipline”. It is known that parenting within the intensive parenting style that’s purpose is more to control the child’s behavior will most likely come with costs. The benefit is that your child is more likely to engage in the choices that the parents deem appropriate. More direct opportunity costs consist of the time and effort you spend on instilling control and values on your children. More indirect opportunity costs consist of the love and care of a parent and knowing aggressive parenting may impose effects on the child. If the return is high, I am willing to bear the costs of my parenting methods.
Life as we know it becomes all about opportunity costs when we become parents. Whether it be deciding between staying at work one more hour or being with your children for an extra hour or even deciding to continue your career or stay home to be with a full time stay at home mom. Opportunity cost should be part of all parent’s decision-making process. Opportunity cost is an important issue in the context of children’s time as well. If your child is taking guitar lessons, they aren’t drawing. If your child is reading, they aren’t playing baseball. We need to choose wisely for their benefit. Just keep in mind, moderation is key and sometimes we need to all stop being paralyzed by thinking too much and have a little fun.
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