Silver Spoons & Spoiling Children With Money
I recently read: Myth of the Silver Spoon and it made me feel a lot more confident and hopeful that I will be able to navigate being a parent who can now afford to give things to her child and help them, versus how I grew up.
my money story
I grew up without much money. My parents had money, but squandered it, and to this day, are major gamblers which is why I am so against gambling. It was also the trigger when I was 23, graduating university with $60K in debt, to take charge of my finances and teach myself how to budget, invest, etc.
Anyway, long story short, I knew nothing about money until the age of 23. I knew that there was money, and people spent it, to never carry credit card debt, but aside from that, not much else.
Fast forward to today – I am debt-free and relatively comfortable. My CoastFIRE retirement is set, and now I am thinking about estate planning, and how to best distribute my wealth in my lifetime to my son so that he does not have to struggle the way I did, but to not give him so much that he ends up complacent and lost.
- Everyone likes to work
- Teach them a sense of self-confidence and purpose
- Don’t tell them what to do/study, etc
- Don’t tell them things like – You will never have to work again
Everyone likes to work
It is human nature to like to work, accomplish things and be proud of them. Period. Look at how little babies and toddlers live their days. Even now, my son will ask – May I help? – when I am scrubbing the shower, and I of course set him up so he can. Then at the end, he runs to his father and says proudly: Look at how hard Mommy and I worked today!
That sense of pride and joy in accomplishing a task, is what we live for as humans. Not working, is a joke that we make to each other, but if we REALLY did not need to work, what would we do? We would drift aimlessly.
Even in early retirement, people want to work. They read books, maybe they go back to school, plan out a better garden, fix their home … maybe they take classes on cooking or silversmithing – it is all work but in different forms.
The key, is to find work that gives you that ikigai (read here), and pays you to boot. Model that for your children because I used to only complain about my job, but I have learned to balance it with – I love it 80% of the time, when I accomplish something, I feel DANG GOOD – and my son sees that, and it is true. I just never thought to voice it out and model how much I enjoy doing what I do as a career.
TEACH: SELF-CONFIDENCE + TO BE MENTALLY STRONG
Overall, the main thing I learned from the book was that children need to be self-confident. They need to know that they can accomplish things, be mentally strong, and figure anything out on their own.
At 23, had you paid my student debt for me, I am not sure I would have embarked on this whole money saving journey, but I do not want to repeat this money trauma of mine, on my son. There is a better way to do that, and that is to simply teach him about saving, budgeting, enjoying money, spending it on what you love, and investing.
Had you given me money a year after I had started my money journey, I would have kept to my same values from what I had taught myself at 23 but accelerated my wealth journey a lot quicker. It wasn’t until I had gained the knowledge and confidence in budgeting, finances and investing, that I was able to really say – I am good now, I can handle anything, I can learn anything and do anything I want.
No one can take that away from me. Ever.
This is what I have to teach my son rather than forcing him to take on lots of debt and work crazy hours like I did – that he has the ability and confidence to handle money on his own, to not be scared, to sift through the noise of what is important to him and not, and even though he may covet some pricey shoes in the future, that if he can afford them, he should absolutely buy them as long as his finances are in order.
I was open to learning and being better with my money, and he will be as well, that is the faith I have in him, and more often than not, what parents think of their children, is what comes true, as you subconsciously model this behaviour towards them to achieve that desired result.
You can’t do things like tell them – become a lawyer/doctor/engineer so you become rich. If they dislike the career path, they will be unhappy, and yes, they will have a good income, but at what stress and cost? Do you not, as a parent, want your children to be happy first and foremost?
Let them figure things out on their own, and for themselves. You can guide, but don’t dictate.
If they like animals, maybe they want to work as a veterinarian. Your job is to help them figure out what would make them relatively happy as a career, that aligns with their values and sense of confidence and self, and then figure out the money part later. In every job/industry you have high and low paying niches; some have more than others, but there is always a way to maximize your particular values + skillset.
Ultimately, if you take their choice away from them, they will rely on you forever to make choices for them rather than becoming independent and self-sufficient. Money is just a side thing, to help them accomplish their goals, but it doesn’t really solve anything if they are lost and confused to begin with.
Don’t take their purpose away
Lastly, don’t say –
- You will never have to work again
- You are set for life
- Everything is taken care of
Not only is it not true because you cannot predict the future, but things can and will change.
You never know if you will lose your wealth. Maybe you will end up sick and needing all that money.
DO NOT make blanket statements you cannot back up.
Even if that does not convince you, in saying such so-called positive things to your children, you are taking their purpose away.
“If I don’t need to work any more, why am I even in school?”
And that, is the greatest disservice you will ever do to your children. They need to know that they have a purpose in life, and if you take that away from them, by saying you can do ANYTHING and NEVER have to work again, they get lost.
Oddly enough, getting a job is what gives us that challenge or purpose to work again. I am not saying to not give them a penny until they’re 50 or revoke the money, but you need to let them be challenged, and confused a little by their jobs and working life, so that they find their purpose and figure out who they are.
Let them go to school, study, earn that great job, work at it at entry-level and struggle, then feel confident as the years pass. Don’t take that rite of passage away from them.
It may be a joke to say – I don’t dream of working so I don’t have a dream job – but as I mentioned above, humans like to work and produce. In what capacity, is another story altogether, so help your kids reach that beautiful balance.