I can’t claim to being the biggest Beatles fan, or at all if I’m totally honest. But they hit the nail on the head with that title.
I remember Ryan coming home from school and talking about the other kids who all appeared to be wearing mega-expensive boots and other designer gear. Anyone who didn’t conform with their unofficial dress code was considered poor. What the hell kind of lesson were their parents teaching them?
Put it this way, it reeked of lazy parenting whereby ‘love’ was expressed via credit card. Of course every doting parent wants to give their kids everything they possibly can; it’s natural. But this aspiration must surely include a proper appreciation of the value of money, and an understanding of what it takes to earn it.
When Ryan was old enough I gave him an allowance to manage, which he supplemented with a weekend job. He was immensely proud of the money he accumulated, and didn’t spend a penny he didn’t have to. He bought second-hand computer games, and traded in the old ones to get the best deals. But even before that, I discussed aspects of working life with him, and instilled the concept of work and reward.
I’ll fully admit that I loved to treat him, and if I had cash left over then I got a big kick out of doing so. But I’ll tell you something, he never asked for a single thing, and was always completely grateful for everything he received. Also, whilst not spending much on himself, he was generous towards others, and gave regularly to charity.
Constantly lavishing gifts on kids, and throwing money at them as a substitute for quality time, does them no favours at all. I’ve seen my fair share of spoilt brats who are given everything they could possibly want, yet still resent their parents, and walk around with a permanent sense of entitlement. You know who I mean, you’ve seen them as well.
Even if your job takes you away from home, keeping in contact has never been so easier, what with text, e-mail, skype, etc. I do understand the guilt associated with working long hours and having to spend time away from family. But trying to assuage that guilt with money isn’t the right message to send, and is not what the vast majority of children either want or need.
There is nothing that can replace the value of quality time with your kids. However fostering an understanding of the efforts you make in order to provide for your family enables them to not only recognise the realities of life, and prepare them for the future; it also helps them to appreciate the time you do set aside for them.