As parents, we want to give our kids the best of everything. We want to give them all the things and advantages we had as a child, or, alternatively, all the things and advantages we DIDN’T have as a child.
We want them to take the best lessons and classes and to have the best vacations. We want them to have the latest fashionable clothes and the latest electronic gadgets that are the rage. We want to hire tutors for them so they can do the best on their standardized tests and get into the best colleges.
We want them to have the best of everything, but should they?
When You Can’t Afford the Best
One blogger I follow often talks about how difficult her childhood was. Her parents were frequently out of work, and they were routinely short on food. However, every year when Christmas came, her parents splurged wildly so there would be many Christmas presents under the tree.
While she enjoyed the extravagance when she was little, as she got older, she began to resent her parents. She didn’t need or want all the elaborate Christmas gifts. She just wanted food on the table regularly, and those Christmas splurges made it more difficult to do so. She resented how immaturely her parents were handling their money, even if it was supposed to be for her benefit.
Trying to give your child the best of everything when you can’t afford it inevitably leads to both relational and financial stress and conflict. Ultimately, kids don’t need material things so much as financial security.
When You Can Afford the Best
Of course, there are plenty of people on the flip side of the coin who can afford to give their child anything they want. The question is, should they?
When you can afford to give your child everything he wants, how much to give is an individual decision.
Still, giving limitlessly can set up an expectation in your child that she can get whatever she wants when she wants it. Unless you’re going to support her for life, maintaining this standard will be increasingly difficult as she grows up and goes out on her own. In addition, it can also ruin her work ethic because she’s used to just getting whatever she wants.
According to The Huffington Post, “Graham Tuckwell, the founder and chairman of ETF Securities,. . . does not plan to give much money to his kids because ‘lots of money is poisonous to have. If you just give them stuff, it almost destroys their desire to do things and you actually end up with kids who are a lot worse off.’”
There is much to be said for making our children work for their own achievements and their own “stuff”. Not giving them everything they want and that we may be able to afford to give them is difficult. Still, it may be the best thing we as parents can do.
How do you determine how much to give your child and when to say no?
- Looking for a New Investment other than Stocks? Give P2P Lending a Try!
- Compare Mortgage Rates
- FREE Credit Score!
- Get the Best Car Insurance Rate
- Best Savings Account
- Join Personal Capital Now for Free Financial Tools!
My view is that our children will find so much on the Internet that our main input as parents should be explaining those things when questions arise. And yeah, we should also do some work in the attitude department, as that is something where our input will make sense. Work on the ethic side of things, the information side of things we won't be able to do much with anyway.
I think providing your children with what you can reasonably afford and explaining the value of what you purchase is an important lesson for them to understand. Our son didn't always have the newest electronic game player or the fanciest shoes, but we talked about value and needs versus wants. Yes, he always wants more, but has become a young adult with good shopping skills and is slowly learning delayed gratification.
I think giving your children everything they want is a huge diservice to them. In order to develop a healthy work ethic children need to learn how to meet their own needs without help from others. I will always be there to help my children but saying no is sometimes the best thing you can do for them!
When I was young, my parents forced me to work to have the things I wanted. All through high school I worked at a McDonalds. When I finished my education and entered the workforce, I already had a work ethic. Had I been handed everything I wanted, this never would have happened.
My grandparents left my parents an inheritance. My parents will leave us one about twice as big, maybe a bit more. I plan to leave my kids even more. Hopefully, I'll be well into retirement by the time my parents die, so I don't really see it as any kind of disincentive! I'm continuing to have kids later than my parents did, but that means what we leave will be split more ways, and with any luck, the youngest will be at least in his/her mid40s by the time we go.
But as far as STUFF, now... They certainly have less than most of the neighbors (most of whom have lower incomes than ours), and I think that's still probably too much. I'm not a big believer in giving kids too many things--it's easy to spoil them!
I made sure my children had the best education which included some classes after school. There will not be a big inheritance for them. They graduated college without any debt and the rest is up to them. They are successful adults, but I gave them the most valuable of all things, my time and a good education.
I think we should give our children the best after they have accomplished a challenging task in order to get them used to what it takes to get the best.