No doubt, we all have our own ways of raising our kids to be good citizens, learn to be considerate of others, have good manners, be responsible, be appreciative and be thankful for everything that they have and who they are. Maybe I’m a little alternative in my thinking, but I like to see the positives in child-rearing and not focus on the negative, as I believe that all children are old souls in new bodies, and somehow, things come out of them that they have never been taught and have never observed, to show you that they have an unbelievable heart and know what’s right.
One thing I am a stickler in teaching my children is responsibility. I know I haven’t perfected it yet, and I am a long way off, but knowing that they have come from a bloodline of men who tend to hook themselves up with strong women who look after them, I want to show them that they need to be responsible for themselves and whoever they bring into this world – financially and supportively with love. I want my boys to be financially independent from me by the time they are twenty, but be in a position secretly where if they are in dire straits, they can turn to me as a last resort. They will need to show me that they have exhausted all possibilities in obtaining the money they need – show me that they’ve applied for bank loans, have a job that sustains their lifestyle and savings, cut back on extravagances and show me that they can afford to pay me back. I don’t want my money to be a burden on their independence. To me, this is a life lesson, because they need to know that I won’t and can’t always be there for them financially.
My parents were ‘mean’ in the stingy way of paying for things for me. From the age of fourteen, I was given a $10 a week allowance, and anything I wanted above and beyond that didn’t include my education, food on the table, transport to and from school, most medical expenses (not the ones I didn’t divulge 🙂 ) and the roof over my head, I had to pay for myself. That included clothes (except school uniforms), haircuts, presents for friends and family, entertainment, magazines, transport, things I wanted – CDs, video hire, furniture for my room, anything. So I had to get a job. I did paper runs, worked at a pizza shop, had Christmas jobs at a record shop, but my big one was babysitting. I had clients that went out most Friday or Saturday nights, so I would get $30-80 a week on top of my allowance to do with what I liked. To this day, I have never asked my parents for a cent of their money, however I have asked them for their time, usually with some reluctance.
I took what my parents said seriously. That once I left home, they wouldn’t look after me financially and I would never be allowed to come back. So I left home at 18 to fend for myself never to return. And that is what I expect my boys to do. Leave home knowing that they can do it all themselves.
I remember growing up, loving my best friend’s parents because they were so generous with their time and money on their kids. My best friend could always go up to her Daddy ask for some money to go out with friends, or buy a dress that she liked. When it came to getting a job, Daddy found her one in television. She found a lovely man, who adored her and she married having a princess wedding only to divorce him after she had an affair with a television personality that she worked with. Now she has her successful television personality husband to look after her. And her parents are destitute, working still when they should be retired, but still give her all the love and attention she needs. Growing up, I always wanted to be a part of their family, but now I know I am in a much better place.
I have a friend who has three 20 something year old children – one married, another finishing her med degree and the other working. He still buys each and every one of them basics to get by, pays half the rent for one of them, doesn’t ask for board for another, pays off their cars and destroys his credit rating to make sure that they are all ok. But his kids will always ask for hand-outs because they have always been there. And what you do for one, you have to do for all. He is screaming what to do because one of them has taken complete advantage of him, but he feels compelled to be dragged into helping his child and continues to have the situation abused. From an outsider looking in, when do you cut the cord?
At the age of ten and almost eight, my boys get pocket money each week for certain chores around the house. They are pretty good at doing them, and only have to be asked once, if at all. They are more interested in seeing their money grow in the bank than spending it, even putting all their birthday money in the bank. They actually get disheartened if they see their bank balance reduce in size because they desperately wanted a toy. So they understand the consequences. They have learnt to read a bank statement and like seeing the interest appear. But they are young, and things change, but it’s a start.
I think it’s important to teach children about money and responsibility as if they are adults. As I said, they are old souls in young bodies, and they can see what it takes to work and survive. I tell my boys what financial responsibilities I have – mortgage, car repayment, how much it costs to fill the car up, how much is the grocery bill, what it costs for the internet, electricity, etc. And they compare that with the money they have in the bank. It’s their reality check, and puts it all in perspective for them.
It will be another 10 or more years before I know for sure that my teachings have worked. It is hard to know what’s right for you and your children, but I know from my own background, the younger I started, the more appreciative I became of the lessons my parents taught me in being financially responsible, even though I envied what my best friend had at the time.