My wife and I have been very fortunate in our careers. We both have six-figure incomes, and as a result we have a little over $2 million in savings and investments. With this in mind, do you have any advice on how to make sure your kids aren’t spoiled as they grow up in a family that’s doing well financially?
First, don’t spoil them! Teach them to work, and teach them to be givers. Oh, and gently remind them every so often that it’s you and your wife who are wealthy—not them. Yeah, I know. This probably sounds mean to some folks, but I’m talking about simply explaining to them how you and their mom have worked hard, been smart with your money, and that’s why you’re in the position you’re in.
We taught all our kids, from a very young age, just how important it is to work. Work equals money. When you do that, and kids see it in their parents’ attitudes and actions, it makes a big impression. With little kids, it can start with simple things like cleaning up their rooms or clearing the table after dinner. And it should carry over into their teenage years, as well. Every able-bodied child should be working and earning money, whether it’s their own entrepreneurial idea, at a fast food joint or babysitting.
Another thing we did was based in our faith. As Christians, we taught our kids that we don’t really own anything. It all belongs to God, and one of our jobs is to wisely manage the things He entrusts to us. The first rule is to take care of your own household—the important stuff. After that, it’s okay to have some nice things, but it’s not all about fun. It’s also about thoughtful giving and being generous.
As a parent, your job isn’t to be a buddy to your kids. It’s not to give them every little thing they want, and make sure they’re running around carefree and playing every hour of the day. Your job is to teach them about the important things in life, and over time, mold them into mature, responsible human beings who can survive—and succeed—in the real world.