By Sabrina Almeida
It is a constant dilemma—should you indulge your kids or make them work hard to earn what they want? Warren Buffet was probably spot on when he said that how your kids handle money often depends on your own relationship with wealth. If you are materialistic, they are likely to share your philosophy.
One might be tempted to brush his words aside, being a man of privilege with a name that would automatically open doors. Yet in his book “Life is What You Make of It”, Buffet is very much the guy-next-door with the same practical advice we’ve heard from our parents and grandparents.
Meaning teach your kids value. And more importantly, let them solve their own problems! Ah, the difficult one! While we might be on board with making them sweat for it, resisting the temptation to take over the steering wheel in trouble waters is the hardest part.
What Buffet says about monkey-see-monkey-do is evident all around us. Especially in our own homes, as uncomfortable as the thought might be. I reminded of a now 40-something man who started to exhibit the same money-pinching ways as his dad, in his late teens. Having seen his mother struggle through life because of his father’s miserly attitude, most of us believed he might choose a different path. But alas he was mirroring a life that he had lived!
With most kids adopting the values of their parents, there is nothing earth-shattering about Buffet’s observations and advice. Yet it is something we forget or ignore.
So, will your kids walk the same line that you did? In my humble opinion, it is a very personal reaction to what they have experienced growing up.
A few friends that I know have made a conscious decision to be different. Therein lies a bit of uncertainty—whether they want to be like you.
One man refuses to pay restaurant bills with lower denomination notes and coins. He says it reminds him of his “tight-fisted” dad! Pulling out hundred dollar bills from his wallet makes him feel good. As do a luxury car and brand name clothing.
A study of 50,000 American families by Brown University revealed that habits were unlikely to change after the age of 9. Whether it was responsibilities or household chores. A short time span to teach life lessons.
American comedian Louis CK drew a few laughs when he said he was spending all his money, or as much of it. He didn’t want to raise rich kids with an attitude.
I am inclined to agree with him. In my experience kids who have never had to work for anything do not know how to. Laziness and entitlement aside, it makes them unfit to deal with life. Those with means and social position often believe they can pay or bully their way in.
A lady from Delhi that I interviewed more than 25 years ago appreciated her father for not indulging her. He believed she should not get accustomed to comforts she might not be able to afford. It made as much sense then as it does now!
Most middle-class parents fear that their kids will lack the drive and ambition to get ahead. Knowing that your parents will bail you out with money does that to you. I have a neighbour who helped his three kids purchase their homes and bought them cars too. Since I’ve never met his children, I cannot comment on whether it impacted their attitude to life.
But I also know a 50-something woman who has always indulged herself with vacations, in spite of low-paying precarious employment, because of her father’s deep pockets. From rent to groceries, laundry and entertainment, she pops in and out of her parental home for whatever she needs. Being an only child makes her even more entitled.
In his award-winning book “Rich Kids”, Thomas Corely shares some distinctive habits of self-made millionaires that he believes account for their success. Or rather why others fail. Amongst the most critical failing behaviours he listed are—a ‘me-first’ attitude, entitlement and victim mindset, no purpose in life, negative thinking and no control over words and emotions. He also adds toxic friends, not reading, poor health habits and video screen overload to the list. Wow isn’t that how most kids are?
Are your children over or under the age of 9? Mine are way over… and I’ve realized that they are more careful with their money than mine. Some reason to hope, eh!