Recently I went to a Parent Coffee meeting at my daughter’s school. She goes to a Montessori, and these gatherings center around certain topics that are very insightful. It’s also a great way for parents to connect and it brings a sense of community that I value.
At this particular gathering, the topic of how to handle finances with children came up. It was a great convo, and because my gal is six, she’s at the perfect age to get an allowance, etc. The meeting mediator shared that a good rule of thumb is to give them their age in allowance every month (not week) starting at the age of three.
She explained that she’s been doing this with her now teenage kids and that it works out really well. They also get the opportunity every weekend to do $5 chores to score extra cash (vacuuming the car out, bathing the dog etc). This allows them to earn more money when they want it. They are the ones who save up to go to the movies with their friends, get a shirt they see in a store window and the like.
Then she said something kind of wonderful: “IT TEACHES THEM TO DISCERN WHAT THEY REALLY WANT.”
How simple, yet profound!? What good are we doing our kids, handing them every thing they ask for? Are we setting them up for success? I mean, isn’t our job to prepare them for life WITHOUT us? That’s a hard fact to accept but its the truth.
Look, I hate it as much as the next person, but time doesn’t stop for anyone. We have to let go at some point whether we like it or not and we should always be preparing them for life outside of the four walls we offer them.
So why do parents spoil their kids so much today? Well, I have a theory and it has nothing to do with how much income their parents earn. Rather, I think it’s all about their ego.
I’ve come across so many parents who want to give their kids everything they never had. And to see their kid not really want for anything makes the parent feel good. And if your little one is always wearing the latest brands, has the best athletic gear, technology etc, that makes YOU feel pretty damn good, no? Even their friends comment on how lucky they are to have such a cool mom and dad who ‘get it.’ This makes you look good (i.e. your ego is fed), kids are happy and everyone wins, right?
Wrong. Not really. Maybe not at all.
It’s hard to see your kid want for something, isn’t it? Especially in cases when you can easily provide it. Do you really want to be the parent that has to explain that your child can’t go to the movies because they blew their allowance on something meaningless and were too lazy to do some extra chores to earn it back? No. We rather give them the money and let them have a night out with their friends. BUT, are they learning to discern what they really value?
And is that how the real world works? Don’t we owe it to them to be…well, real?