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?