Last I week I shared the unintended consequences of creating an entitled life for your kids, one where they expect things to be given to them. I believe most parents want their kids to enjoy a great life and still become independent, successful adults. Unfortunately, entitled kids struggle to transition from childhood to adulthood without their parents continuing to take care of them.
The Dangers of Snow Plow and Helicopter Parenting
As my friend, Anna, from Are Ya Gonna Eat That pointed out to me, “helicopter” and “snow plow” parents are the huge trend right now.
Wikipedia defines Helicopter Parents as Moms and Dads who pay extremely close attention to their children’s experiences and problems, particularly their education. They call their kids at college every morning to wake them up and their professors to dispute a bad grade. They hover when they need to step back.
Snow Plow Parents push obstacles out of their kids way so they don’t have to struggle to get things they want. Kids succeed but not through their own talents or hard work, but thanks to Mom and Dad. And they are often ill-prepared to face the real world without their parents still pulling strings for them.
I suspect we all probably know a Helicopter or Snow Plow Parent. We may even be one ourselves. I imagine these parents are acting in what they believe is in the best interests of their children. They want their children to succeed and are backing them 110%. It seems innocent enough. Unfortunately, they also rob their children of their ability to stand on their own two feet. They can’t problem-solve for themselves and some are even unable to make their own decisions. It’s one thing for your child to ask for your opinion, and it’s completely another thing when they need you to tell them what to do … on everything.
How to Raise Financially Confident Children
I want to my give my daughters a great childhood where they feel deeply loved and supported, and it’s equally important to me that I give them the tools to succeed as adults.
1. Be a Good Financial Role Model
Did you know that kids form their money habits and beliefs by age seven? Behavior experts David Whitebread and Sue Bingham of the University of Cambridge concluded that money habits are formed in early childhood, generally by age seven. If you haven’t started talking to your kids about money, don’t despair. I have some great tips on how to talk to kids, ages 0-7, 7-12 and 12-18 about money and can help you start these important conversations with your kids.
The very best thing you can do for your kids is to be a good financial role model yourself:
- Watch how you talk about money and keep it positive. Most of our emotional money hang-ups stem from watching Mom and Dad argue over money. We don’t always understand what the argument is about, but we know money is the root cause.
- Be open with your kids and don’t let money be a taboo topic in your home. If you’ve made mistakes (and who hasn’t) be honest with them. Share your experiences and learnings.
- Demonstrate at the store how you make decisions and explain your rationale on why you buy certain items. Ask them for their opinions. This is how kids learn.
2. Say No to Allowance. Money Needs to Earned, Not Given
I’m not a fan of traditional allowance. I don’t believe money should be given weekly “just because” or for doing basic chores, like making your bed. Children should have the luxury to be children, but we do them a disservice when we give them money for no reason. In the real world, money is earned.
In our home, the girls earn money through our weekly Job List. I post various jobs that they can sign-up to complete. They must be capable of doing the task well and complete it without reminders from Mom and Dad. On pay day, the girls immediately allocate their earnings towards their Save, Spend and Share goals.
What I love about this system is that the girls can take a lot of ownership and pride in their work. They can choose whether they want to earn a little or a lot in any given week. They also understand what can happen if they take on too much and are unable to complete their tasks. When we go shopping now, they rarely ever ask me to buy them something. Instead they ask me for more ways to earn money, so they can buy it themselves. I love it!
3. Empower Their Decisions through Goal-Setting
The most dangerous consequence of Helicopter or Snow Plow parenting is the lack of experience and confidence kids have in making their own decisions. They are simply used to having them made for them. Now imagine being a hiring manager interviewing a job applicant who cannot demonstrate any independent thinking because they don’t know how to find solutions for themselves. Is that a person you want to hire? Probably not.
We need to give our kids ample opportunities to make decisions, to make mistakes and to learn from those mistakes in a safe environment. Every year, Lauren and Taylor set Save, Spend and Share goals so they can give their money purpose. Those goals help guide their decisions on how they earn and spend their money. Because I taught them to ask themselves, “Does this make my heart happy?” when setting goals and “Will this bring me closer or further away from my goals?” when they find things they want at the store, they know how to make smart decisions they won’t regret later.
This, of course, does not mean they are perfect and never make mistakes. They do. And it’s hard to watch them decide that something shiny and new was more important than a goal, only to discover later that it wasn’t. I could have prevented the mistake, but I wanted them to learn now when the mistakes were small. It’s my belief that $50 mistake today is a hard but valuable lesson that will hopefully prevent a $5,000 mistake later.
Entitlement Does Not Equal a Good Life
Parents want to give their kids a great life and sometimes that great life turns into an entitled one. It’s a fine line that separates the two. By following my three steps, you can give your kids a good life and raise financial confident kids.
The Heavy Purse Store is now open! My new downloadable Money Club Workbooks are now on sale. Each workbook provides five targeted lessons to help you raise Financially Confident Kids. Please check them out in The Heavy Purse Store.