Another Rosemond quote from his book New Parent Power!
By and large, today’s children have been overdosed not only materially but emotionally as well. They’ve been given too much attention, too much praise, and too many rewards. In short, we’ve made their lives easy, and in so doing we’ve created a fantasy of how the world works. Another family therapist once summed up the situation for me quite well. He said, “This generation of parents has done a wonderful job of sharing their standard of living with their children, but a miserable job of endowing those children with the skills they’ll need to achieve that standard on their own.”
This is something that I’ve been a little thoughtful of lately. I often listen to Dave Ramsey’s radio show. Many of his callers have little comments from their kids who ask their parents “Do we have coupons for ice cream?” or “Is a candy bar in the budget?” – different things like that. I think kids having an awareness of the fact that money isn’t infinite is awesome! I like the idea that kids know that everything has a cost and some things are worth the cost and some aren’t.
I also know that I have a higher standard of living as a young couple than my parents had when they were first married. My parents were 18 and 21 and just getting started in life. My husband and were 30 and 33 and pretty well established when we married. (While being older has it’s advantages, it’s also not what I would’ve wanted – I would’ve loved to have been younger when we married – maybe not 18, but not 30 either! This isn’t an argument to wait til you’re 30s to get married.)
My husband and I budget, but our budget isn’t super tight. We can go on vacation if we want to. If our car were to burst into flames tomorrow, we can buy another one. Maybe not a Porsche, but we could buy a Toyota Corolla. I do coupon at the grocery store, but it doesn’t make or break our ability to buy something. I fear that Phinehas will turn 22, be out on his own for the first time and expect to own a house right away, take vacations, and have a pretty car even though he’s just starting out. I hope we can set his expectations correctly.
As a parent, how do you balance the fact that you can afford a middle class standard of living, but also set the expectations that your children will have to work to get to that same standard – and it will take some time to get there? I think, for us, it won’t be saying that we can’t afford something, but rather telling them that we’re choosing not to spend our money in a certain way. And probably talking about what our lives were like right after we got out of college – apartments, roommates, cheap cars, no vacations.
Setting the expectation that money comes from working and helping him to build a good work ethic and skills that will lead to a good job. It’s parenting!