Kids and Money
This column by Ruben Navarette struck me as on target:
* * *Too many parents think of their role as providing material goods to their children. Isn't it much better for children to be poor but honorable as opposed to rich but spoiled?
Now, as I get ready to become a parent, what scares me is the thought that my children might one day hang out with kids who have BMWs and $1,000 handbags, who run up their parents' credit cards and still demand more.
There is reason to worry, according to a recent cover story in Newsweek. A lot of parents can't say no to their children's demands to buy them more of this and newer and more expensive versions of that. Parents are even flocking to daylong seminars where experts tell them how to stand up to their kids, how to say no to their demands and how to hold firm.
* * *
Not long ago, after a speech to a local business group, an Anglo gentleman stood and asked me what our society should do about poor black and Hispanic kids who come from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Nothing, I told him. Leave them alone. Whatever you do, I said, don't try to rope them into some government welfare program. The disadvantaged kids — at least some of them — will find a way out of their circumstance, I said. Chances are they'll do what poor people and immigrants have done for generations. They'll study hard, work long hours and push themselves forward.
If you really want to worry about someone, I said, worry about the kid living comfortably in the suburbs. The spoiled child who had every toy and modern convenience growing up, who never bothers to get a summer job or do chores around the house, and who still gets a new car at 16. Worry about the kid whose parents are too busy providing for him to spend time with him, and who try to make up for their absence by giving him money and buying him things. What does society have to offer to the kid who has everything?
It's funny. Sixty years ago, my grandparents worked in the fields from dawn to dusk to make sure their kids didn't go hungry. And now, surrounded by modern conveniences, what concerns me is how to raise my children so that they will be hungry for success.