A recent headline in USA Today, Aggressive ‘Helicopter’ Parents Force Easter Egg Hunt Cancellation spurred today’s topic. Some overbearing parents were so worried that their little kiddos couldn’t Easter egg hunt on their own and wouldn’t get their “fair share” of prizes that they violated the hunt rules and “helped” their children claim eggs…
….all while parents who had the fortitude to follow the rules watched as their kids came back with baskets empty.
We all want our kids to succeed and don’t want to see them cry. But sometimes, sending little Timmy out to play without his helmet can help him learn valuable life lessons.
We all learn from failure.
I’ve failed more often than the average person has tried. – Donald Trump
Back in my advising days, I’d ask parents how they were teaching their kids financial responsibility. I don’t think many advisors ask this question, because so many were surprised when I asked.
Often, they’d ask what I’d recommend.
One of my favorite recommendations was that they hand little Timmy or Tina an allowance. I’d make it a big one, too.
One of my favorite pastimes was to watch their faces when I told them just how big I’d make it. I’m not talking “break the bank” big, but I am suggesting you hand them enough to make them go “wow!”
Here’s the deal:
You can trust your kids with a little money today or send them off to college later without a clue how to manage cash in their hand.
Let Timmy screw up. Have the guts to let him fall on his face.
Then, once he’s stepped in it the first time, be a parent enough to discuss his mistake. Do it a few days after he’s broken the new iTouch he bought, or when G.I. Joe is missing an arm.
Teach him how he could have bought security by saving or investing that money. Ask him if the toy really made him happier.
Stop sheltering your kids from real life until they show up as adults with no training and you’re not there to do it for them.
I’ll bet giving them $10 a few times will teach them well over $1,000 in lessons over their lifetime. What a great investment!
Here’s what I did. I paid my kids a large allowance. Then I stopped buying popcorn at movies when we’d go. I wouldn’t by them books at the bookstore. There were no video games. They could buy that stuff, but it was their choice. Then we’d talk about the impact of those choices.
Today my kids both run websites at age 16 and own stocks on their own. They both have healthy savings accounts from jobs. I stopped paying an allowance years ago.
I’m not patting myself on the back. We’ve messed up our fair share and will in the future. I’m just showing you that it’s possible to teach your kids about life without doing everything for them.