Opportunity Cost: The Decision-making Process In Every Parent’s Life

Everyday we have to make choices ranging from the delicious recipes to cook to the career paths that will be best for our future. Each decision that we take has a cost, and can be either a burden on our finances or rewarded. Economic trends like inflation, interest rate and economic growth are always influencing our lives. We have some things that we can’t control but which can change our life a lot.

Economics frames my choices in regards to leisure, employment, education, consumption, and many other areas. This semester, by taking an economics course, I gained a deeper understanding of the way things work and how to make more informed decisions. Economics is an important tool for evaluating the merits of financial investments, the cost and benefits of alternative careers and public policy. Parenting is one area where economics helped me make better decisions and provided a tool.

In terms of raising children, we all have different views. Let’s take two examples: tantrums with spankings or time outs. My son was in the terrible threes. I know that everyone knows about the terrible twos. Temper tantrums are a major problem for kids aged two and three. According to a large amount of research, temper tantrums are more likely to occur when children are overstimulated, tired, hungry, or bored. Imagine you and your two-year-old were shopping all day, but you still wanted to make one more trip to the supermarket. You would save time by making fewer trips that week to the supermarket and completing more of your tasks. The cost of saving time is the tantrum from a two-year-old in aisle 5.

You can also discipline your child in a different way. Today, many parents prefer time-outs to spanking. If your children misbehave, we can spank them to try and make sure they associate the unpleasant experience of being spanked with that behavior. Some studies have shown that chronic spankings can cause disobedience, violence and long-term behavior. Would spanking have a long-term price? Would using timeouts to discipline children be more cost-effective in the long term than spanking? Economics can be a great tool to help parents make decisions. Parents are often in a hurry, trying to squeeze in as much work and patience as possible to solve the problems. However, the results will be worth it.

As a mother, I’ve learned how to balance the benefits and costs of my parenting styles. My parenting style is authoritative, and I feel that it best represents me as a mother. “The authoritative approach is where parents use reasoning to guide their children and shape their values instead of using command and punishment. There is no doubt that intensive parenting, where the goal is to control a child’s behaviors is expensive. Your child will be more inclined to make the choices you deem appropriate. Your time and efforts spent on teaching your child values and controlling them are more direct costs. Other indirect costs are the love, care and concern of a mother or father and the knowledge of how aggressive parenting can affect a child. I will pay the cost of my parenting style if the returns are high.

As parents, our lives become a series of choice costs. It could be choosing to stay an hour longer at work or spend more time with your kids, or deciding whether to pursue a career or to stay home with a stay-at-home mom. All parents should consider the opportunity cost when making decisions. The opportunity cost also applies to children’s time. If you child is taking lessons in guitar, they won’t be drawing. If your child reads, then they’re not playing baseball. It is important to make the right choices for them. Moderation is important. We need to have fun and stop worrying so much.


  • codyyoung

    Cody Young is an educational blogger. Cody is currently a student at the University of Utah pursuing a degree in communications. Cody has a passion for writing and sharing knowledge with others.



Cody Young is an educational blogger. Cody is currently a student at the University of Utah pursuing a degree in communications. Cody has a passion for writing and sharing knowledge with others.

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