You love them and you want to give your kids everything, but this may be robbing them of the incentive they need to grow. Few things light parents up more than giving their kids gifts that send the kid into sobbing ecstasy. The game system they’ve been begging for or the new phone they keep sighing about. You love your kids more than your own life, but giving into the urge to give your kids all the perks might actually be hurting them.
This is particularly difficult when we consider the perks we ourselves live with.
Nice cars, comfortable homes and the latest electronics are expensive and we usually work so hard, it only makes sense to get these things for ourselves. Then, of course, it seems selfish not to get the fun stuff for your kids, too.
The problem with our kids comes from our definition of work. Parents today will frequently put the biggest emphasis on kids’ grades. Some parents actually pay kids for these. Rather than urge our kids to get jobs as teens or to work to earn money, some people reason that doing well in school is their kids’ biggest priority. I often hear about the magic and largely mythical college scholarships. Parents reason that if kids do well in school, they’ll end up saving their parents money in the long run, by earning scholarships.
I’m here to tell you the scholarship money is even more scarce and hard-to-get now than it was when my own daughters graduated high school. It’s a crap shoot these days. If you choose a pricy institute of higher learning, they often offer scholarships to a larger percentage of their students. The problem here is that, even with these scholarships, kids come out of college with pretty massive student loans or their parents end up spending a boatload to get them through school.
Your kid may be a whiz at soccer or excel in equestrian sports, but odds are that you’ll spend big upfront money on lessons, fees, camps and the like and end up with only a portion of your child’s college debt being paid for by scholarships. In addition, the kid will be pressured to perform at whatever skill you hope to earn the scholarship in.
And they won’t learn to do the stuff that gets you money in the real world.
Maybe urging your kids to work and earn money might pay off more in the long run. If kids work to get their special perks–like Ipads and designer clothes–you may be giving them the gift of competence. They can learn that they can get what they want by working for it. After all, you work hard for your perks. No one gives you stuff just because.
Having a job and earning their own money helps kids know how to work. This cannot be over-rated. It’s very scary for a young adult to graduate from college never having held a job. The jump into making their own money and paying their own bills is even bigger, at that point. Working at a menial fast-food/amusement park/restaurant job can teach kids how to deal with bosses and co-workers. Vital skill sets. It can also motivate our children to go to college to get the jobs they want. Working at a crappy, entry level job can help them learn what they don’t want to do.
I still remember my 13 year old daughter coming home from working under an old building with her father. (We do non-profit work, so there were all kinds of jobs that needed doing.) She spent the day in the mud, helping him with old plumbing. When she came home that evening, she stood inside the kitchen door, covered with mud. Looking at me, she said, “Well, now I know I don’t want to be a plumber.”