Holding Kids Accountable for Money is Hard

I really admire my cousin Dan.  He teaches his kids that nothing comes free in life.  Because Dan is good with his own money management, he has always been in a position to help out his kids when they wanted a vehicle or to go to tech school or high school.

But Dan didn’t just give them a handout.  He has been very wise about how he has helped.  He has sometimes given 100% of the money with the proviso that they repay him 100%.  He has sometimes paid for a portion of the bill and they are required to pay the rest.  In each case the arrangements were discussed and agreed to and the kids have always – to my knowledge – met their responsibilities to him.

He has managed the money thing so well with his kids and it has been a wonder to watch how well they have done as a result.  They have both had jobs since an early age to be able to do what they want and to foot their share of the bill.  One owns her own business and the other is in University.

Unlike Dan, I didn’t demand enough accountability for what I gave my own step children.  Oh, they’ve turned out OK for the most part but the money thing was always a problem.  There was always an expectation that since I was making a lot of money, I the family ATM – no pin required.  I never really did anything to dissuade them from that opinion either giving freely without many strings or requirements.

It’s a mistake I see lots of people making who make a lot of money.  I think it’s an easy trap to fall into when you’re making a lot of money.  When the kids asked me to buy something like expensive new shoes, I used to think to myself, “Why not?  I can afford it!”  But it was really just weakness, a way to avoid saying no and setting reasonable boundaries, making the kids responsible for earning some of what they wanted.

I think that the flaw in the quote by Ms. Whitehorn is why it is only half true for me.  I guess the lesson of giving assistance with assigned responsibility is harder to teach as a parent when you’re broke.  I learned to work hard and to prosper because my parents weren’t wealthy enough to give me what I wanted (not that they would have spoiled me anyway!), but I was unprepared for the abundance that working hard brought to me.  I could have handled it better, like my cousin Dan has. 

Oh well, another thing to improve on in my next lifetime!