Why do I care if other people spoil their children?

The other day I had a nasty comment on my old Christmas Eve boxes post (the comment has been deleted and the commenter has been blocked because it was pure nastiness and not constructive). I get very few nasty comments on my blog, but they always upset me. But a small part of this one got me thinking. She asked why I care what other people do with their children?

Well that’s a big question. I would be lying if I said I didn’t care. Not because I’m judgemental, but because I care about our society. And if I didn’t care about our society, if I literally just cared about my own children as this woman was suggesting I do, that would make me a far nastier person.

Now, it is up to every parent if they want to do Christmas Eve boxes, dole out tenners like they’re going out of fashion, buy advent calendars costing upwards of £25 or buy a new toy every time their child smiles sweetly or has a tantrum in a shop.

BUT I fear for the future of our children. Because one day they’re going to grow and they’re going to have a nasty shock. Money doesn’t grow on trees. New toys don’t grow on trees. And rent doesn’t pay itself.

Money has to be earned and then you have to budget to make ends meet – food, fuel, bills, rent. Maybe at the end of it there might be enough left over for a night out or a new jumper. Or maybe there won’t.

If our children’s generation is more spoilt than our generation, as it appears to me they are, they will never learn these lessons until they’re in the deep end – either at university or living away from home and doing their first job. And more than likely they’re going to get themselves in a financial mess. Maybe they will be lucky enough to have mum and dad bail them out, or maybe they won’t. But at some time they’re going to have to stand on their own two feet.

My own son is 16 now and in Year 12. The likelihood is that he will be at university in less than two years, having to make those difficult financial decisions. I’d like to think he will be in a better position than some kids, precisely because he hasn’t been spoilt.

I’ve said before that all of my kids have had pocket money since the age of 4. They all know that if they want something, they either save for it or have it for Christmas or their birthdays. They know not to ask for it because they know they won’t get it. They wouldn’t even dream of asking for it because that’s not how they’ve been brought up.

That doesn’t make me mean – they are given money every week, after all. We buy them essential clothing and pay for their various clubs etc. I will fund the occasional trip out with friends for the younger kids, although my eldest has more pocket money to fund his own trips because social life is a bigger thing in 6th form.

I’m sure that leaving home won’t be without its difficulties, but we have given them a good grounding in budgeting and making financial decisions – do they want to go out or do they want the new jumper? Do they want a DVD today or do they want to save for a few months to buy something bigger?

So, getting back to my original point, I care about our society and other people’s kids. I care that young people will struggle because they have no idea how to budget because they’ve never had to do it. I won’t be feeling smug because my kids can do it and other kids can’t. I will just be feeling sad for those young people who are struggling financially, and the possible effects that could have on their mental and physical health.

So at the end of the day, every parent makes their own decision on what level they ‘spoil’ their kids. If your kids are 2, of course you’re going to buy them toys. But what about when they’re 10 or 12? Will you still buy them stuff then or will you start to ease off?

Will our kids’ generation be able to stand on their own two feet as adults?

Money, Budgeting, Parenting, Why do I care if other people spoil their kids, Spoil

 

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Author: Sarah Mummy

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19 Comments

  1. Thank you for this post Sarah and I’m sorry that you had some nasty comments but at least it prompted this brilliant post. I feel that those of us that write about teens have a particular problem here. Thanks to some very clever marketing directed at a group of consumers who are particularly likely to want to ‘fit in’ some teens can be incredibly materialistic. I agree that this is a debate that society needs to have with itself. At my advanced age (!!) I have the benefit of hindsight and I can honestly say that material things do not make you happy. This is something that I try to get across every day. I have also found that doing a reverse advent when you donate to a chosen charity is useful. I have to say that young people are also naturally very empathetic and generous and it is often the younger people that want to do something about the terrible homelessness issue that is in my home city right now. It is the young people that go and buy coffee and hot food for them (and not my generation) so there is some hope! xx

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    • Thank you for such a lovely comment! I think the reverse advent is a brilliant idea. Although we haven’t done one this year, I think we will do one next year. I’m pleased to say that none of my kids are particularly materialistic, perhaps partly down to their friends and their schools, but I agree there is a lot out there targeting them to want shiny new stuff!
      You’re right that teenagers can be very thoughtful. I gave my son a snack to take when he went out the other day and he gave it to a homeless man, which I was very proud of him for. I remember being just the same at his age. x

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  2. I think sometimes as parents of older children we can have more hindsight than those still in the thick of it with younger children maybe? Like you we’ve always been careful not to spoil our children and to try and teach them the value of money. We all make our own parenting choices. We all try to do what’s best for our family and that shouldn’t necessarily be seen as a judgement to those parents doing things differently. I’m so sorry you received a nasty comment x

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    • Thanks very much! We definitely all try to do what’s right for our own family and I think you’re right that we do have the benefit of hindsight, because we’ve had more practise and we’ve made a few mistakes along the way! I know that when my eldest was very small (before his brother was born) I did buy him more stuff than I would dream of buying now – or would have dreamed of buying for his brother and sister. x

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  3. You’d be a bit odd if you didn’t care about other kids being spoiled. You want to know who kids are socialising with and what they’re like. You wouldn’t necessarily stop your kids socialsing with a spoilt kid but you would want to advise them that certain behaviours weren’t to be encouraged. And let’s focus on the key word here: care. The world could do with more of it.

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    • Thanks very much! I hadn’t even considered the angle of my kids being friends with spoilt kids, probably because we’ve always been pretty lucky with that! I know I had a very spoilt friend growing up and, delightful teenagers that we were, we just took the p*ss out of her about it.

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  4. I think BySarahMostly has a point. We have the benefit of hindsight. My kids have never been fortunate enough to have been spoilt, they’ve always known that requests are unlikely unless it’s your birthday or I’ve previously offered a treat for some particular reason. Even my youngest know that money has value and understand when we go shopping that we have a budget to stick to and the money pot doesn’t get bigger because you want sweets. It may have been partly through necessity, but it has made our teenagers and older kids sensible and frugal – 3 have moved out and so far no-one has needed bailing out. I’m really proud of them all.

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    • That’s really good to hear that your older kids have moved out without getting themselves in a mess. When my younger two were little we certainly couldn’t afford to spoil them. We are in a more comfortable position now, but have chosen to stick with our good habits in everyone’s interests!

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  5. I know parents can be guilty of the instant gratification for their kids syndrome these days. We’ve definitely done it with z and it hit me when his birthday came round this year. He asked for a bike in the summer and couldn’t understand why he’d have to wait till his birthday. Of course we could have got it for him back then but I’m really glad we made him wait… it’s only a tiny lesson but one we want to instil that you don’t always get everything handed so quickly to you.

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    • I hope Z loved his bike when he got it! He will have learned an important lesson there, even if he didn’t realise it. You’ve reminded me of an old friend of mine who would buy her kids new bikes, iPads, iPhones etc for no reason at all. They were lucky that they could afford it, but she really wasn’t doing her kids any favours in the long run.

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  6. I totally agree with you, it is incredibly important that children learn the value of money. That said, not spoiling a child doesn’t necessarily equate to them knowing about money, I think it takes more than that. I wasn’t spoilt as a child – in fact, I would go as far as to say that it was the opposite. I almost never had sweets or treats, I had money for birthdays and Christmas and I had to save it. But, nobody actually taught me about managing money, or about how to manage independently. Having come from a family where we desperately struggled for money growing up, I have been in debt all my adult life and have never been in a position where I wasn’t living hand to mouth, despite having earned well at various points. I don’t want this for my children. I don’t buy them material things but I do pay for experiences for them. I want them to grow up having the sort of childhood I didn’t have. And more importantly, I will go out of my way to teach them the value of money, not just that they won’t have things bought for them but how to look after themselves financially.
    Nat.x

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    • That’s a very good point! We do talk to our kids about money and managing it. Having their own pocket money is a great starting point for that. Also, having two parents with their own business really shows the kids what earning money means, because as you know working for yourself is a very different matter to just going to work for someone else every day, where your income is guaranteed.
      At the moment, I’m encouraging my eldest to get a weekend job, because I think seeing how many hours he has to work to earn £20 or £30 will help him to really understand the value of money. x

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  7. I think the problem today is that people don’t think about their children’s future and how they are going to budget or learn how to live as adults in a world where money doesn’t grow on trees. I think all too often people look a the here and now – they won’t be children for long, I didn’t have these things when I was growing up so I want them to have whatever they want etc. But as you say, it will not help them in the future when they look to society to owe them something. It will be a nasty shock! Sadly I think we are going to have too many adults who ‘expect’ and aren’t prepared to make their own way. We told our daughter the other day that if she is going to look for a job next year instead of continuing with her apprenticeship or in FT education then she will need to be budget for giving us some money every month towards bills and food. Her friends were appalled! Their parents would never do that! I rest my case. Of course we don’t need the money but that isn’t the point. She needs to work out how to budget, especially if she’s planning on using her salary to pay for a horse! Let’s help our children get into the real world and the sooner the better! Sorry to hear you received an unkind comment, that really is so unnecessary.

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    • And I am the same as you in that what other people are doing does bother me but I’ve learnt to try to keep my mouth shut!

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    • Good for you! We’ve already our son the exact thing – while he’s studying we will fund him, but if he chooses to leave education he will be expected to make a contribution to the household. It’s not that we need the money, but it is about teaching him how to be independent and to realise that things don’t come for free.

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  8. I am always careful not to spoil the kids, they do get a lot, but I always teach them the value of money and they know we give Santa the money for the gifts they received. They have to save for the things they want all year round. xx. I’m so sorry you received a nasty comment x

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    • Thanks very much, it sounds like you take a very sensible approach. Father Christmas has always been a grey area – we used to tell our kids all of their presents came from Father Christmas with no contribution from us, but we always told them Father Christmas had a budget! x

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  9. I feel even meaner that you as I don’t even give pocket money. Sometimes my husband’s nan has started to – and the older ones earn it out of the house but otherwise it is just birthdays and Christmas. Our oldest doesn’t seem to be doing too badly at Uni on it.

    And ignore the trolls

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    • Thanks very much! I’m sure it’s not the case with you, but often it’s the case with families who don’t give pocket money that they end up giving more to their kids through the things they buy for them, whereas our kids know they have to budget for everything.
      My eldest is currently trying to get a weekend job, but no luck yet!

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