Limited Parenting, Unlimited Expectations

Economics is the study of satisfying unlimited wants with limited resources.

Most Economics Textbooks

I’m an economist by nature and training, so why did it take years to realize that parenting is an economics problem—satisfying children’s unlimited wants with parents limited resources.

As a friend and I discussed our childhood hurts, we acknowledged that most were due to our parents’ limitations. They did not have the money, energy, training, or experiences to meet our childhood needs, wants, or expectations.

I have also long pondered how children’s expectations of parents have escalated over the decades. And I have lamented that family and community support have eroded. The result? The gap between children’s wants and parents’ resources has widened.

How did the analogy between parenting and the definition of economics help me? I gained perspective. I cannot completely satisfy my children any more than the production and allocation of goods can completely satisfy all consumers. However, I now have the vocabulary to explain this principle.

In which areas are you facing unlimited demands with limited resources?

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