In my lifetime I’ve seen so much change in the way money is viewed by children, as well as competition shared within adult and child minds. I don’t think the changes have been healthy for our children. I’m actually not sure myself about healthy attitudes about money; but I do think the example of parents in how they treat money, and competition is what will have the most impact on your children.
Every generation wants their children to have a worry free life, and we want them to be comfortable, feel loved, and the things our parents did that hurt us we don’t repeat. In evaluating competition and money ask yourself some questions:
- If I don’t buy my children everything they ask for how will it impact their relationship with me, and money?
- If I have my children save towards something they really want instead of buying it for them will that help them in the future or hinder them?
- Am I setting my children up for unrealistic expectations as they move towards adulthood?
- Am I spending money myself without showing restraint?
- Do my children have any concept that nearly everything costs money, like the internet they use to use their tablets, or the electricity used for lights?
- When is it appropriate to begin teaching my children these concepts?
My parents taught me some of these things but, honestly, my relationship with money is flawed; I always worry about money, I never save money, and if I have money it is gone in an instant. That is my fault; not my parents. My mom was always telling me to save, she helped me open a savings account when I was 10, and she, herself, was always saving and talking about finances. I’m not sure why those same concepts didn’t transfer to me. I don’t know what a healthy way of teaching kids about money is. I do think my mom did instill that you always need to worry about money and your future and I think that turned me off. I lived in such deprived circumstances that when I got money I took advantage of it immediately. There has to be a balance between worrying about money and that money is so abundant that you will always have what you want when you want. Resources on teaching children about money are out there, and here are a few I’ve found: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/04/26/how-to-raise-money-smart-children-who-grow-up-to-be-successful-wealthy-financially-literate.html and https://www.parents.com/kids/responsibility/money-management/lessons-teach-kids-about-money/
Now how does money relate to competition? Well so much is in the news about this currently, for instance; the college admission scandal where parents bought their children’s way into colleges that the kids may not have been qualified to get into; we may never know. These kids didn’t have to compete to get into these high status universities because money was used to get them in. It is unfortunate that children know more about designer cars, phones, homes, clothes then I do (an adult), and where do they get that? We may complain when they get into high school and want only the best to “fit in”, and compete with the “popular crowd”. We can’t blame them when WE are the ones telling them about what we want, and what we consider quality. Kids listen to everything, and if you are talking about jeans that cost $200 don’t be surprised when they get older and they want those exact same jeans but now they are $250+.
We buy homes that are ridiculously large to show the world how much money we have, we all know that a family of 4 doesn’t need a 4,000 square foot home unless they just don’t want to see each other anymore. We buy perfectly, quaint, adorable 2000 square foot homes, scrape them off the property including the yard, and then build HUGE homes in their stead without a yard for the kids to play in. We don’t do that for the kids we do that for ourselves to compete with others, and to show status. Ensuring our kids go to the best perceived schools by using our money to get them in is it for our children OR is it for our status? Some of these schools aren’t a good fit for your specific child due to how your child learns but we force them into it because of the status. We no longer try to “Keep Up With the Jonses” we are trying to “Keep Up with the Kardashians”, and that is the WORST!
All I’m trying to say is be careful about what we use money for, and what we are teaching our next generation about money, and what it represents. Should it be used to “one up” our friends, family, and neighbors, that the most expensive items are better quality (which that isn’t necessarily true), that what we wear, what we live in, is what is important; not what is inside our hearts, our morals and ethics? Trust me we can do both, and I know it is fun to have “fancy things” but when is it enough or going too far; what is our motivation in buying what we are buying?