Today we are tackling a pretty heavy subject: spoiling your children.
Growing up, my mother used to frequently say, “Money is the source of all evil.”
Not only was money evil but it was a personality killer, a relationship ruiner, and a poison to all things good and decent and fluffy in the world. Because of this, there was quite a shortage of things in my house: running water, reliable electricity, food….
I once overheard my stepdad’s plan to buy each of us three kids one long sleeved shirt for the winter, then when summer rolled around, we could simply cut the sleeves off, set them aside, and sew them back on for the following winter. Needless to say, I wasn’t the fucking prom queen.
My mother reminded us often that we would be so much better off than our spoiled, lunch-and-dinner-having peers. We were going to have charisma and toughness and the favor of the Lord! All of the kids at school who had things like college funds and music lessons and clothes were going to end up vapid and selfish and boring, and then probably go to hell.
Now, I perfectly understand that my situation was not the norm, but the sentiment is entirely too common. The message around the trailer park, the housing projects, the grocery section of the 7-Eleven was very clear: money made people bad.
As an adult I see this mentality still thrives, and not just in ridiculously poor communities. The middle class have adopted the delightful motto of “once they’re 18, they’re on their own!” and “They have all the money they need to attend The School of Hard Knocks!” with the same fervor as the “money is the source of all evil” crowd.
This madness must stop, so let’s talk about it:
Spoiling your children
Let me make this perfectly clear: having money set aside for your children does not make them spoiled. It will not make them bad people. It will not prevent them from learning the “value” of hard work. That is some bullshit that not only is keeping you down, but keeping down the generations of you’s to come.
It doesn’t matter how broke you are; if you have children, make an appointment with an investment firm and chuck a 20 dollar bill into your child’s college fund. Minuscule contributions now add up to big money eighteen years from now.
You have an obligation to set your child up for success. Unfortunately, it’s not the lack of funds that prevent people from providing opportunities for their children. It’s something I like to call…
The Pride of Poverty
The poor and middle class cherish how we “come from nothing,” how our children will be “good people, not obsessed with money,” that “money isn’t everything.” That you can somehow instill self sufficiency onto your offspring by pushing them out of the nest without a safety net.
These are the money myths that will prevent your kids from becoming successful people. These are the myths that will prevent your children from ever being in the financial position to take care of you when you need it. The facts?
- A study published in June by Johns Hopkins suggests that the things that really make the difference — between prison and college, success and failure, sometimes even life and death — are money and family.
- Children who are raised without financial security are typically rated by their parents and teachers as having more behavior problems than their peers. In childhood, this is reflected in elevated levels of externalizing problems, such as aggression and acting out, and internalizing problems, such as depression and anxiety; in adolescence and later adulthood, in higher rates of non-marital fertility and criminal activity.
You’re not raising a tough, self-sufficient child with a good heart who doesn’t worship the almighty dollar. You are setting your progeny up for emotional instability, mental illness, lifelong poverty, and criminal activity.
So let me repeat: ditch the myths, momma, grab your change jar, catch the bus, and talk to a professional about how you can end the poverty cycle for that little person in your life that you want better for.