Values, #Money, Our Kids, and the Real World

Category: Families & Generations, Weekly Columns

There is a reason that money is on that short list of things that couples argue about most. What are the other things? Sex, and the kids, of course. With the state of our worldwide economy being in such flux, money is a more pressing issue for couples and families than any other time in my life. Plus, we have the glorious – and I use that word facetiously* – social development in which both parents work, more than ever before. Financial literacy for our kids and us is more important than ever before!

As a baby-boomer, it’s my unequivocal opinion that the only good thing “My Generation” produced was some pretty terrific music. I blame our generation for the deterioration of the family unit; the decline in actual honest discourse at our campuses, and raising the most spoiled generation of children in human history. Oh, we’re also responsible for tearing down many pillars of society from the military to the police, politicians to anyone over 30. How ironic given that Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney, and so many others qualify for AARP now!

Threats to Our Lifestyle

Given the current economic turmoil, we now face genuine threats to our comfortable life-style. We’ve forgotten the values of The Greatest Generation and the values many of us were raised with. We’ve done a lousy job of preparing our kids for the REAL WORLD. Yes, the real world. And, I don’t mean the television series!

The real world doesn’t include trophies for simply showing up! The real world doesn’t include assemblies where EVERY ONE gets an award of some kind! The real world has unemployment, hard work, and debt. Yet, the real world of the United States still exceeds, in lifestyle and opportunity, the conditions of any other country throughout world history, even now!

Do our kids know this? Do the Occupy Wall Street protestors have a clue that in many countries throughout history and now, they’d be imprisoned, tortured, and/or killed before they could chant, “I-Phone?” Have we, the parents of this oh-so-spoiled generation of entitled brats done our jobs in preparing for the real world of today?

We’ve Pampered Our Kids

I suggest the answer is a resounding NO. The two-working-parent households that think quality time equates to good parenting, have forgotten the values in which they were raised. Instead, they’ve pampered and coddled their kids to replace the guilt they feel in only spending said “quality time” with their progeny! I declare for the 1000th time, “There is NO such thing as Quality Time: there is ONLY Quantity Time. Please read my column on this subject of Quantity Time vs. Quality Time, as it’s one I feel quite passionate about.

Our kids need to know that allowance isn’t expected. Allowance is earned. Every child should earn his or her allowance. I don’t care how young they are! The older the kids become, the more they will “earn” IF and only IF they do their jobs. Just like the real world!

Yes, our teens have a harder time finding work than we had. Many of those jobs – like newspaper boy – no longer exist for teens. But, that’s again where our job is to teach them persistence, creativity, and entrepreneurship!

The values we teach our kids start first with the models we show them. Hard work, perseverance, tenacity, diligence, pride in a job well done, are all things that don’t come naturally!

What Comes Naturally

What comes naturally is holding your hand out and saying, “More please.” Our kids must learn creativity and perseverance in looking for their first job. Creativity if they choose to create work opportunities; perseverance if they seek employment. Mom and Dad need to teach all of this to them.

When I was a child, my parents gave me the dinner bill whenever we ate out, to check the addition and be sure it was accurate. As soon as I understood percentages, I would calculate the amount of a tip to leave. Do the same with your children.

One summer, I gave my boys a book allowance instead of buying them books. Both were avid readers at the time and they learned the patience of waiting a couple/three weeks if they wanted a book that cost more than their weekly allotment. This is a simple lesson, indeed, but an invaluable one. The sooner our kids learn the value of saving, the sooner it will be part of their make-up.

Get them a bank account. Let them save for the things they want, via allowance they’ve earned, and don’t just give it to them! Give them the skill and knowledge of the value of a buck. Prepare them for the real world, where real work and effort do pay off. Where you get paid, promoted, and otherwise rewarded for a job well done, not for just showing up!

*Facetiously – no, I’m not going to give a definition of this word. Look it up if you don’t know it. I am just pointing out that it is the only word, I believe, in the English language that has all the vowels in it, in order. Useless trivia item #473.