How I Save Money Presents: Principles Parents Must Teach Their Children If They Ever Want to Get Rid of Them!

Welcome to How I Save Money Guest Post series.

Today’s guest post comes from Cameron Taylor who is the president of the Does Your Bag Have Holes Foundation. Cameron wrote the book Does Your Bag Have Holes ? The post is called Principles Parents Must Teach Their Children If They Ever Want to Get Rid of Them!

Please read the following post and I hope it makes you think.

It is becoming more and more common for adult children to live at home. Census figures indicate that more than 80 million so-called “empty nesters” now find themselves with at least one grown child living at home (Roberta Rand, “When Adult Children Move Back Home ,” Focus on the Family) . The common parental expectation of having an “empty nest” has given way to the reality of a “crowded nest.” A 2005 survey revealed that 25% of the college graduating class of 2006 expected to live at home after graduating (Sheila J. Curran, “The Adult-Child Comes Homes,” Duke University News , July 21, 2006).

I believe one of the reasons there is an increase in the number of adult children living at home is because parents give their children to much. Many parents make the mistake of providing damaging financial assistance to their children. Their motives are usually good. They want to help their children by paying for their college, and helping them get started in life or assist when a financial need rises. Unfortunately, the result is often opposite to the one desired. Instead of helping the children become self-sufficient, they become dependent.

Instead of sparking initiative and discipline, the children become idle and indulgent . Instead of being achievement oriented, they become entitlement oriented. Instead of becoming grateful, they become demanding. “Children who always get what they want will want as long as they live” (Fred G. Gosman, Spoiled Rotten , (New York: Villard, 1992) p. 32). Research has shown that “in general, the more dollars adult children receive [from their parents] the fewer they accumulate, while those who are given fewer dollars accumulate more” (Thomas J. Stanley, William D. Danko, The Millionaire Next Door , (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996) p. 142-143).

Another reason is that children are not learning to work . Since parents are providing financially for all their children’s needs, they no longer have to get summer jobs. In 2007, for the first time on record the majority of U.S. teenagers were not working or looking for work at the beginning of the summer. Only 49% of teens age 16 to 19 were working or looking for work in June 2007, a steep decline from the 68% of teens working or looking for work in June 1978 (Barbara Hagenbaugh, “More Than Half of Teens Forgo Summer Jobs,” USA Today , July 9, 2007).

So what do you do when children ask for financial help? Let me share with you a story. When I was starting one of my first businesses, one of my business partners and mentors was a multimillionaire. My business was growing but struggled to turn a profit. I continued to work hard but things were getting tougher and tougher for me financially. I went to my rich partner and asked for a small monthly salary or a loan to help me get by until the business was profitable. He declined to give me any assistance. I was frustrated and said, “You are making millions a year and I am struggling to stay alive. Please help me.” He looked at me and I could tell he wanted to help me. He was close to giving in to my plea when he replied, “If I take away your struggle, I will also take away your victory.” He then shared the following story:

“There was a young boy who came across a caterpillar hanging in a cocoon. He went to see the cocoon several times each day waiting for the butterfly to emerge. After a few days, the young boy began to see the cocoon move as the caterpillar struggled to emerge from the cocoon. The boy wanted to help the caterpillar so he ran home and got a pair of scissors. He returned and carefully cut open the cocoon and out fell a partially developed butterfly. This caterpillar would never fly as a butterfly. The young boy innocently killed the caterpillar he was trying to help.” At the time, I didn’t find this advice helpful, but today I am grateful to a wise partner and mentor who resisted the temptation to cut open my cocoon.

If you protect your children from struggle and responsibility, you will also prevent them from growing. If you help too much, you will make them helpless. Living off others is a form of bondage—for if you take from a person his responsibility to care for himself, you also take from him the opportunity to be free. Do not give your kids money, give them financial education. It costs a lot less and will develop the productive, self-sufficient children you desire.

Author: Lulu

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3 Comments

  1. I truly believe in financial and social responsibility. I also understand the new wave of “entitled teens”. I agree with all of your points but one. You gave the example of asking a millionaire partner for help and he declined. Of course I don’t fully understand the entire situation but taking this at face value, I feel life is about helping others in need. It’s one thing to spoil and shower someone that is undeserving. It’s another to help a responsible individual out in time of need. While I wouldn’t hand something away on a silver platter, I cannot envision myself turning my back from someone that is clearly demonstrating pure will and just needs a short term bit of help.

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  2. I agree with you CreditMom (remember this is a guest post) about the partner turning the author away.

    I understand the point he was making but I think he should have helped his friend out. Instead of thinking of the person as a caterpillar he should have thought of him as a baby who needs a walker. It is help, not taking away the struggle.

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  3. This is so very true. I was just discussing this with my wife. When you expand social programs people become complacent. It’s a sad fact about human nature. Not everyone is like this but a great majority. Challenges lead to character building. Kids need that. It’s their insurance for a successful life. Parents need to be sure they’re giving their kids a hand up and not a hand out.

    Jerry
    http://www.leads4insurance.com

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