Being a parent of teenage girls, I always assumed that they were the more expensive gender to raise. With girls, there seem to be weekly expenses like fancy shampoo, nail polish remover, feminine products and twice as many grooming products as I use myself.
Even though they have their own money, it seems that I am often asked to contribute to their small purchases like gifts for friends or a Starbucks treat. And of course, if I gave in to their every whim, there are always haircuts/styling/highlights, the latest makeup or manicures and pedicures—expenses that parents of boys just don’t have. Due to my own experiences, I resigned myself to the fact that girls were simply more expensive than boys.
But then when I started asking parents who are raising both sexes, which are more expensive to raise, I was surprised by some of the answers. Generally speaking, parents of both girls and boys concluded that the costs are pretty much equal. I was even told that boys often even have more expenses—different ones—that aren’t necessarily gender specific.
Every family situation is clearly very different, but it seems like there are a few common, reoccurring themes.
Girls like clothes, but boys wear them out.
Not all girls are fashionistas but as they approach their teen years, many take more interest in what clothes they wear and their overall appearance. My youngest daughter never cared much about fashion, but once she entered high school, she started to take notice.
But boys, while maybe not as interested in the latest fashions, tend to be harder on the things they wear. As one mom told me, “My boys blow through shoes and clothes so fast because they are so hard on them. My girl just wants them because she wants them.”
Kids activities are pricey, no matter the gender.
Millennial kids are participating in all kinds of extracurricular activities like skating, dance, soccer, art classes, rugby, music lessons and hockey. No matter what activities your teens participate in, the costs of each isn’t gender specific—and most parents would agree that all activities are expensive. From lessons, to ice time, to gear, if you want your kid to learn or play an activity or sport outside of school, it’s going to cost you.
Teens should learn to pay for the ‘extras’.
No matter the gender this is an important one. Parents of teens are more likely to implement a budget or expectation that their kids pay for/earn certain extras for themselves. I haven’t come across the word allowance in awhile, but many mentioned that their teens either have part-time jobs or earn certain privileges by working around the home.
Online gaming or music accounts and cell phone plans are popular extras that are certainly not gender specific, but common. For my girls, the extras are dance workshops, or a shopping afternoon with friends.
Despite what I had originally surmised, the parents of teens that I spoke with agreed that the costs for teen girls and boys were pretty even in most households. The kids may have different priorities and different activities, but generally it evens out in the end—even with haircuts and hygiene products. However, a wise older relative who has raised a girl and boys said it best when asked the question of who is more expensive:
“It all depends on how many cars they wreck!”