I hear it all the time : fathers complaining that their teenagers treat them like an ATM. I have a couple of teenagers myself, plus a 5-year-old. Once upon a time, their doe-eyed expressions and vice-like hugs challenged my principles and many times I succumbed. But that was a long time ago and now, most of the time, I don’t.
Growing up, my parents were careful with their money and I was taught from a very young age to understand the relationship between work and reward. As a result, I never asked for any – not without asking first what I could do to earn it.
READ MORE: The Fatherly Guide to Allowances
This achieved two things. First, it taught me how satisfying it was to truly earn and own what I wanted. For example, when I was 12, I knew that every single nut and bolt on my motorcycle was mine because I had earned that gorgeous red machine 100 percent. Secondly, it enlightened me to the fact that I could have anything I wanted if I just earned the money for it. It was entirely up to me.
These days, my teenage daughters almost never ask for money. One of them runs a successful YouTube channel and earns additional income doing beauty makeovers for clients. The other is building a channel too, plus works part-time at a grocery store. When they were little, they learned to perform small tasks around the home for pocket money. As they grew older and their desire for things grew more expensive, they requested larger, higher-paying jobs. It’s amazing how quickly a child will come to understand the true cost of an iPad, a Kindle, or a concert ticket when they work for them.
They also learned the importance of setting aside some of their money for long-term goals, and now both of them are busy squirrelling money away for their respective first cars. When they finally buy them, they’ll know they will have earned them. They will be truly theirs.
Now my 5-year-old is doing the same thing. If Tommy wants a Power Ranger toy, he knows he must first clean up his things in the lounge room and his toy room.
The look of pride on his face when he hands over his hard-earned money for his latest purchase is so priceless it almost brings a tear to my eye.
Habits are formed from a young age, so it pays to make them great habits. We all want our kids to be strong and independent, and teaching them how to manifest what they want shows a greater love for them than simply giving them what they want.
One of my 13-year-old daughter’s friends recently received a new iPhone – in every single color. My daughter was suitably disgusted. She now knows what it takes to earn what you want and moreover, she understands the damage this girl’s parents are doing in the name of their own short-sighted egos. She can almost picture the struggles this girl will experience later in life and the great skills her parents are denying her.
As a young boy growing up, this key principle certainly worked for me, and now I can stand back proudly, and witness the enormous impact it’s having on my kids, too.
As my very successful friend, Ken, once said, “I’ve never seen a kid benefit from being spoiled.” Hooray to that.