Enough to teach them the hard lessons of life that is! As a parent myself, I have no doubt you love your children, but loving them enough to teach them tough life lessons is often tougher on you than it is on them. You may recall your father providing you some good discipline, and stating this hurts me more than it hurts you. As a child, this makes absolutely no sense, but as an adult one discovers how difficult it truly is to direct our children with difficult life lessons.
I heard a recent radio news report of a mom who made her daughter stand at a busy intersection one afternoon holding a sign stating something to the effect of, “I’m training for my new career, if I don’t get in gear.” Critics of the mother touted the negative, long-term psychological effects on the daughter, how dangerous this was, and one “concerned” citizen went so far as to report the mother to human services for humiliating and abusing the child. These critics of the mother had these opinions despite the fact that the mother stood right there by her daughter’s side, and despite the fact that the young girl had started letting her grades slip, started sneaking out at night, and who knows what else. I believe this is an example of one of those hard lessons we must teach as parents. It would be much easier to tell your child, go out, have fun, and don’t worry about the grades, but this mother took a stand with her daughter and for her daughter. No doubt the mother was struggling internally with how to redirect her daughter’s behavior. I think she found a great way to teach her daughter a profound lesson in short order. But, how many of us as parents have the guts to stand up to the critics or perhaps even more difficult to stand up to our own need to love and be loved by our children. We desire to shelter our children from every hurt in life. We want them to be happy, healthy, and have their every desire met. But, sometimes like this mother, we should be willing to endure the pain of teaching our children a life lesson so that perhaps they won’t have a lifetime worth of mistakes to regret.
One of the greatest areas of misdirection for many today is financial management. As a wealth advisor, I am fortunate to be able to work primarily with the affluent. However, there is an ever growing majority of Americans both affluent and less than affluent who were not taught by their parents the difficult disciplines of delayed gratification, saving, investing, living below their means, and sound financial management. In addressing this need through financial coaching and counseling, we are continually amazed at the poor or nonexistent financial lessons parents taught the next generation. As parents it is difficult, perhaps even painful to teach our children concepts like delayed gratification. Our love for them wants to immediately fulfill their every desire. It takes a greater love for them to help them learn fulfillment.
This brings us to another financial concept that goes virtually untaught to all children regardless of their parent’s net worth. The concept is satisfaction with ones current financial situation. Now, I’m not saying you should teach your children to be lazy or to never strive for something better! I am saying that without this one concept learned, your child will never find fulfillment and happiness. Obviously, there are other factors in life necessary for fulfillment and happiness, but this one financial concept is critical. Without it learned, they will always want for more no matter what they obtain. Emptiness will always consume them. They will find only temporary satisfaction by getting what they want, and once it is obtained the emptiness will return, leaving them to try and fill it again. Like a drug addict looking for the next high, they will exist finding only temporary relief. Some might call finding financial satisfaction anti-capitalistic, even anti-American. I call it all-American. A sense of fulfillment frees ones spirit to seek the greatest rewards regardless of the risks. Don’t be afraid to share with your children your personal financial struggles, experiences, difficulties, and triumphs. They should understand what they might face in their lives, how better to prepare for it, and possibly how to avoid the big bumps along the way.
Philippians 4:12-13 (New International Version)
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.