The Pride of Poverty and Spoiling Your Kids

Rotten apples on the ground

Today we are tackling a pretty heavy subject: spoiling your children.

Veruca Salt throwing a tantrum

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.

Mr. Burns says "Excellent"

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.

School of Hard Knocks diploma

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?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

62 thoughts on “The Pride of Poverty and Spoiling Your Kids

    1. me too, utterimperfection

      voyagersheart – this is a great topic for anyone, any age. poverty is a terrible thing. luck figures into life more than people want to acknowledge.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. So true. I have SO MUCH anxiety about money now, all the time, because I remember what it was like to not have any, EVER, when I was a kid. I freak out that I don’t have enough, but I don’t want to have too much either…’s a horrible cycle.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. My scars run deep from my childhood. At the end of an Easter egg hunt you do not reward your kids with carob chocolate, because nothing says I love you less, than something that tastes like it came out of someone’s asshole. And DO NOT make your kids drink powdered milk to save money because that smell and horror last a motherfucking lifetime! And act like you love your kids. Kids are not cattle, or designed to be used as your personal slaves to keep the house tidy. They need nurturing and support. Do you really think that they will succeed if you simply feed and water them, and tell them ‘don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out!’ They won’t. They will fuck it all up. So AMEN to this post. Thank you for this honest assessment! Every parent needs to read this like 100 times or until it sinks in!! You are the best!! 🙌

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You know when you read something that is so sad and hilarious that you’re shaking your head back and forth and your mouth is in a frown but you are also laughing? That Exactly Right Now. Tanya, thank-you for kicking ass, I see us having a “child-hood off” very soon ((like a dance-off)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is so true. Money, unfortunately, IS everything, but it doesn’t have to MEAN everything to you and you can teach your children the value of it and how to work it without worrying about turning them evil. It also buys into that mentality that All children are children right up until they’re not (18) and then they’re expected to know what to do, how to be mature, how to handle the adult world with no experience outside of school and home where you are consistently treated as a child with no real autonomy and never taken seriously!

    But good job! I enjoyed this.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. “momma, grab your change jar, catch the bus, and talk to a professional” this one line says it all! I love it. My mom always told us that we would appreciate things more of we worked/paid for them ourselves. Hell, we were too young to get jobs so that pack of pencils and those paper book covers had to wait. LOL

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh god! I remember that! I detassled (a midwestern torture job for pre-teens involving cornfields and saddists) and My mom charged us gas money to get there and then we had to use our earnings for all our school supplies. and everytime I looked at my #2 pencil I just really really appreciated it….oh wait, “Appreciated” isn’t the right word, I was looking for “resented” LOL Thank you so much for leaving a comment!!


  5. “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 on back on for the following winter. Needless to say, I wasn’t the fucking prom queen.”

    I especially love this bit.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. My mom was similar with her monetary beliefs and I had to work twice as hard and I feel my mental state suffered due to it all. Now, as a mother, I agree with breaking the cycle not perpetuating it. My daughter has a college savings account and I save all the money she gets from relatives on holidays to go towards her savings as well.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I have mixed feelings about this. My dad made me work every summer for extra spending cash. I never just got something (I wanted, needs are different) for nothing. My parents didn’t set aside for college, but I still managed to go & with very little debt. Do I expect my daughter to have the same experience? No. Why? Because she is being raised under different circumstances. She is still expected to pay for her own wants & save for college? Yes because that’s setting her up to be a responsible adult. I suppose what I’m saying is, there must be a happy medium.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I completely agree with you that there has be a happy medium and summer work for spending cash is a totally healthy approach to finances. My feelings about the college savings etc is that the parent has 18 years notice where 20 dollars here and there along the way can turn into thousands from interest. A child on the other hand 1.) already has a full-time school schedule 2.) can’t legally work until they are 15 or 16. giving them 2 years notice to save for college. 3.) With tuition what it is, and minimum wage what it is, it would best behoove them to take up extracurriculars and apply for scholarships instead. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment, I love to engage with my readers!!!

      Liked by 2 people

  8. My mom was awesome – she worked hard all her life, but always believed that education was key to success – and neither she nor my father had much of it.

    My parents both worked hard and my mom put a bit of money away for each kid as we were born, “for school” – and she was GOING to give each of us the opportunity to go to university – even if she had to scrub floors to pay for it.

    Thankfully she didn’t have to – we were able to use the money she had invested, plus work every summer to pay for school – but I don’t believe she would ever have let a lack of money be the reason we didn’t get the chance to get more education than she had.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. “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.”

    Damn, Girl. This whole thing is full of capital-T Truth, but this is what really got me. Your blog is becoming one of my faves.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Oh my gosh, I don’t even know what to say. I love ya’ll at BGR, this is so much of a compliment. Now I’m smiling and happy, it’s unpleasant, make it stop! Really, thank-you so much for stopping by and making my day!


  10. Reblogged this on Hello gorgeous! and commented:
    I am in love with this blog. This post here about setting up your children’s future is great. I have personally never even thought about this and I am guilty of thinking they can figure their stuff out like I did. But the truth is my Mom has helped me tremendously and I need to get my butt to a financial advisor ASAP for my little angels.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Wow — this is a great post. A perspective I’d never really understood, but I witnessed the Pride of Poverty effect in my students while I was a teacher. This is a great piece that makes priorities clear. Thanks for sharing it.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. This actually brought me to tears because it hit home. What a fantastic post and perfect take! I too came from a tough start and that’s where “have your cake and eat it too” blog came from. I agree we should learn from where we came from but not let it dictate where we will go. Fabulous post!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I think a lot of people who are poor need to be proud of being poor to get through the day. Or they compensate for being ashamed of being poor by being tough or aggressive. A lot of artists who aren’t making enough money to get by tell themselves that at least they haven’t sold out like the artists they are actually jealous of.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Preach! “The Pride of Poverty” is definitely a real thing! I’m fortunate that my parents weren’t as bad as what you described, but they were definitely beyond the norm of frugal. Definitely no thought to college savings and I was told to get a job at 14 if I wanted clothes or anything besides the basics (food, bed, shelter, etc.).

    I’m grateful in certain ways because I now know I don’t need a lot of money to live a happy life. But on the other hand, I’m tackling $40K+ of student loans. Still not as bad as others have it!

    However, I also have friends whose parents gave them all the money and resources they needed, and they’ve developed irresponsible spending habits trying to maintain the lifestyle that’s familiar, but beyond their current pay.

    There’s a balance somewhere between the two, but it seems few people ever find it.

    Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I’ve been at the sharp end of that stick. Feeling poor and having grade school friends wave their beanie babies and Barbies in my face, excluding me during lunch, made me feel like crap. I had a slight klepto phase because of this, and good thing I’m not a good thief, because one can only get caught so many times. Looking back I know where my parents went wrong, and now that I have kids of my own I have a guide book, haha.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. This is the best thing that I’ve read for a long time, probably because it speaks to me. I struggle alllll the time with whether I’m “spoiling my children,” and yeah, there’s a fine line, but making sure they have what they need? That’s not spoiling. Love this.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. I work in the Population Health industry and I see this all the time. The excuse we hear a lot is: ‘I didn’t have it when I was a kid, so my kid don’t need it.’ This coming from the mom of 6, all under the age of 10, reeking of cigarette smoke and BO, living on food stamps and welfare. Everyone’s goal in life is to become a functioning member of society; not a lazy mooch that abuses the system.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. We aren’t a “well off” family by western standards, but we certainly get by with a tight budget and have no consumer debt. I have an envelope for each of my kids with their names on it in my sock drawer and when I get an extra $20 or $40 throw that into their envelope for a college fund. It’s not a ton but hey like you said, over 18 years it adds up doesn’t it! My parents were great…they always paid for needs (clothing, school supplies) but not wants (except for a birthday or Christmas gift). I am hoping we can do the same for our kids because like one commenter said, balance is key. Thanks for a great post!

    Liked by 2 people

  19. I think this is very true. An often thought I have, and I share with others is… How do successful families stay successful and raise successful children. It’s because enough of them,in my opinion, are taught to work hard constantly. And in order for them to maintain their lifestyles, and be able to provide the same, and more for their children, they do need to work hard. It’s not just luck.
    Money doesn’t necessarily determine how your child is raised morally.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. My parents were terrible with money.. I had a normal middle class childhood with no major financial problems.. But it wasn’t until I grew into a teenager that I realised that my parents had so much credit card debt.. They just weren’t good with savings and stuff.. Therefore the moment I graduated university, I swore that I wouldn’t be the same as them.. I bought my own savings plan, medical insurance plans and investment fund plans.. Even though I had to pay around $700 per month for all these, it all adds up and my funds will be maturing soon.. I also had an operation early this year and did not have to pay out-of-pocket due to my medical insurance.. I strongly believe that financial literary is one of the most important life skills anyone could have and I’ll definitely teach that to my little girl..

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Your daughter is lucky to have you. Money is so rarely discussed, yet to so important to understand. Good for you girl, I love financially savvy women!


  21. Great article! Parents most definitely shouldn’t be afraid to spoil their children. The only way to build a strong tree is to water it. The worst thing is how a child you look around and see that the children with money aren’t necessarily spoilt or boring. That they get to experience lots of things and look nicer.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. LOVE this post! We have to do better in realizing the difference between extending a helping hand to our youth and “spoiling” them. Ensuring your kid isn’t financially devastated by student loans just because you refused to help them aim for higher education by actively saving for them is a perfect example of that.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Wow….this post and the comments…fabulous. I came from an “18 and out” family, with many younger siblings that taxed their finances. We all went our own way and paid for it with savings from jobs (since age 14) and loans. I was proud of that, but did not subscribe to the ethic with my own kids. We paid for their education…they left college with no debt, and I’m also proud of that. I wouldn’t have done it any other way.

    Poverty can lift us up, or tear us down. It doesn’t always build character, it often builds resentment.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. OMG, I agree with this so much! I grew up in this mentality, and as a kid the thing I was most terrified of was being spoiled. Kids in my high school bragged about who was paying their own phone bill/car insurance. We sneered at the “spoiled kids” whose parents bought them cars and helped them pay for college. What we didn’t realize is that those kids were being set up to be more successful in life than us.

    I HATE our cultural myth that you can be a self-made success! Everyone needs help, and, by definition, your parents are the main people who should be helping you! When I went to college I remember talking to international students who were really confused by this weird American mindset. I once told a European boy that I had bought my car from my mom, and he couldn’t wrap his mind around the fact that a parent would make their child buy something from them. Why wouldn’t they give it freely? That blew my mind at the time.

    I think what this comes from is the fact that a lot of parents can’t help their kids. I think there’s a certain shame and sadness that comes from not being able to give your kids a leg up, so to deal with the psychological strain you twist it into some sort of false positive.


  25. I always found this phenomenon interesting. Pro-poverty. Pro-“tough love”. Pro-struggle. As if it’s something to be proud of – struggling. I don’t like it and I don’t want others to experience it.

    I’ve noticed how much the attitude towards money and “having nice things” has changed between my parents and their parent’s generation. For example, my father, he is the “skip the 18th birthday party, and instead, jump kick your only child yo out the window” type of person… with no money, no resources – nothing, and honestly, I find it to be the most ass-backwards, hypocritical, stupid thing ever. On the other hand, my grandmother is the exact opposite. She genuinely WANTS to see her her family struggle as little as humanly possible, she wants us to have nice things – things she literally couldn’t have growing up in rural Philippines with her other dozen brothers and sisters. She didn’t immigrate all the way here for us to be live in poverty…on-fucking-purpose. And, I get it! She and my grandfather worked very hard all their lives to ensure her kids and their kids don’t have to worry about money, about having a safe place to live, a hot meal – etc.

    Ironically enough, although my parents did not struggle, they also did not establish a savings for me, or provide much financial support. Then the economy crashed. LOL. Long story short, I struggled. A lot. Getting through college. Trying to keep a roof over my head. Etc. And, regardless of how “tough” or “resilient” I may had become, I wouldn’t want to give my children that same start. I wouldn’t want them to worry about where their next meal is going to come from, or if they’ll have a place to live next week. I want them instead to study hard, work hard, and follow their fucking passions, uninterrupted.

    BUT I DIGRESS…another fantastic post by you! Thank you for writing!

    And, yes ma’am, I am creepin’ the blog. No, this is not the first or last post I will read this evening 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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