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Diminishing returns

Today, I'm studying the indirect correlation between the productivity of parent and child.  This is an interesting study upon which to endeavor and, while I may never fully develop the study into a well-working model, I consider this to be my own example of diminishing returns. Let's take a look at this economic principle in the light of my own parental experience. 

While my husband at times remarks as to how wonderful it could be to expand on the number of people living within the confines of our home (and, granted, there are moments I, too, think this could be a cute idea), the number of children that we have is very certainly controlled constant.

This is our fixed input.

Now, before we go any further, I must take time to decipher what I believe to be the most adequate definition of the commodity that we're attempting to produce throughout our parenting experience.  On one hand, you might say that this commodity is a well-mannered, intelligent, understanding child.  However, this economic principle is not one of longevity.  So, I must throw out this claim that the commodity here is the development of my children.  No, in the short run, the true commodity of this study is my own parental productivity (a.k.a, sanity).  I've chosen this because, at the end of each day, I view my success as a parent on the fact that I have not completely lost my mind.  I call this productivity because the amount of sanity that I hold on to throughout each day is directly related to my levels of productivity as a parent in the long run.  Ah, but you recall that I stated this was not a study of longevity.  This is where I am theorizing that, as a parent, if I should complete each day in a sane manner, then my children - in the long run - will better develop into better adults and citizens.  Simplified...perhaps.

So now let's take a look at my study.

As previously stated, the number of children within my family is a fixed input.  It is not changing.  The inputs that change are the productivity levels of my children.  But, what is the productivity of a child?  While one could argue it's the amount they learn through the day, I would counter this argument with the fact that my children - as with many other children - seem to learn most productively through play.  I am able to manage certain levels of my children's productivity.  It is a healthy scenario for all of us.  However, as the levels of their productivity increase, so does the level of chaos and destruction.  Thus, there becomes a point when the sought after commodity - my sanity - begins to decrease.

This remains true unless I am able to change the techniques for production of my commodity.


Perhaps this is where one could argue that larger families get it right.  By increasing the number of children, their technique for production changes.  Older kids entertain younger kids.  This might then allow parents time to go to the bathroom by themselves, take a shower, or even make meals - thus increasing our parental sanity commodity.

But, I'm not so sure I'm willing to move into this stage of testing out all of my new found parental economic theories...


*Note: I am not an economist and may not have adequately demonstrated the law of diminishing returns.  This article is meant to be used as a humorous view on my life as a parent.  If I have inaccurately demonstrated this economic principle, I encourage you to add your own demonstration in my comments area.

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