Make money your god and it will plague you like the devil.
Ohh, the magic of money. If only I had more, I would be so happy! Do you ever feel that way? If so, you are not alone. Many people spend their whole lives trying to make more money and ultimately find they can never make enough to become happy. Studies prove that happiness is found within, in the pursuit of doing something you love rather than in having money itself. Unfortunately, way too many of us were never taught this little nugget and, when we finally figured it out on our own, it was too late in life to be much help.
Wanting money for the right reasons is natural and something that should not be demonized. Money is neither good nor bad; it is simply a tool. Money is nothing more than an amplifier; if you are a rotten person and you win the lottery, you will be even more rotten.
Supporting our families, putting a roof over their heads, having cars, making our lives easier—are all valid reasons for wanting more money.
Unfortunately, American culture has got it backwards. Today we work more for money and the accumulation of material possessions, rather than finding something we truly enjoy doing. When we pursue money for the wrong reasons, it can be harmful to an adult’s psyche. For example, charging a new pair of shoes you can’t afford to your credit card in the hopes that you will “feel good” about yourself is a dangerous way to learn to love yourself and/or life. Teaching our children about Kidmandment #9 should be one of every parent’s top responsibilities.
Understanding WHY we need to teach our kids about money is easy; all we have to do is look around. Some people never seem to struggle with money, while others seem to be drowning in negative energy about money their whole lives, destroying their chances for happiness in their worry over money.
Needless to say, teaching our children how to avoid life’s potential potholes is a fundamental responsibility of parenting. That includes showing them—by example—the importance of doing something we love. They need to see us wake up every day pursuing our passions, instead of dragging ourselves to work just to collect a paycheck to survive.
Great Parents teach their children to respect money at a very early age. They do this by teaching them that money doesn’t grow on trees—and reinforcing that they don’t get everything they want. It also means they don’t deserve money simply for being born or living in their house. Not-so-great parents give their kids everything they want, and unintentionally deprive them of the joy (and the experience) of earning money.
Please, don’t get tricked into believing you are doing your children any favors by giving them everything they want. It sets a horrible example and teaches them no values. Instead, allow them the experience of working hard; then, once the job is over, celebrate the achievement by rewarding them with money. Take that connection away and you have done a disservice to your children.
The good news is this can all be avoided. While it seems old fashioned to expect our children to “produce” and “to earn their keep,” this is one old fashioned piece of parental knowledge that simply cannot be ignored.
Once children are old enough to start asking for things, they are old enough to start doing small tasks for which they are financially rewarded. Once compensated, they should be taught the importance of saving a portion, giving away a portion and keeping the balance to spend as they please.
Kids who learn the correlation between work and money grow up appreciating what they have and possess a sense of pride that can only come from earning money.
It’s up to us to see that they are given this opportunity and it is not stolen from them under the false pretense of doing them a favor. Sheryl Crow has a song “Soak up the Sun” with a great lyric, “It’s not having what you want; it’s wanting what you’ve got.” Wow, great advice from a great songwriter!
Children who have always been given what they want are more inclined to struggle with money in the real world. Once they get older, it doesn’t take long to find out that money earned is a direct reflection of their efforts—and they are shocked. While still reeling from that little doozie, they get a double whammy when they find out how much everything costs! This is the same stuff that not long ago was free and easily provided for them. This reality can cause people to become angry, depressed and maybe even feel a little cheated—because they are used to getting a free lunch, which no longer exists. Should we blame the kids? No. The blame belongs squarely on the shoulders of the parents who “spoiled” their children, gave them everything they wanted—and then expected them to magically know how to be responsible once they became adults. And yet, it’s hard to blame the parents who just want their children “to have it easier than we had it.” This is natural and, yet, families who follow this path typically have disastrous results for both parent and child.
If all this isn’t enough to make you lose sleep, there is one more thing to worry about when it comes to money: Some people grow up believing that the more money they have equates to them being more of a person. Somehow, they associate who they are with their material possessions. Unfortunately this causes them to worry about how others perceive them. How they are seen by others turns into how they view themselves—and round and round we go. No matter what they have or what they accumulate, it is never enough. They will always need more and want something else, believing that when they get it… then they will be happy.
Material possessions are not bad, in and of themselves; it’s only when people define themselves, or when they think they are better or worse than others, based upon what they have or don’t have. When we allow the Ego to drive our emotions and actions, we falsely believe we must “be someone” to be someone. This is a slippery slope that is quite difficult to get off.
Now is the time to teach our children about money and materialism, so they don’t spend years learning it the hard way as adults. One day, they will grow up, be on their own and have to earn everything for themselves. If we are lucky, they will find paths they love that pay them what they want/need. However, if they are not so fortunate, at least they will have learned that money itself is not the key to happiness.
True happiness is found within, in the giving and in the receiving from the heart.