I Don’t Want My Kids to be Happy
I’ll let you in on a dirty little parenting secret…I don’t want my kids to (only) be happy. Happiness sounds nice, like an old, comfy bathrobe. You know what? It isn’t enough. As a parent, you’re never really allowed to admit this. You’re supposed to say, “All I want is for my children to be happy in life”. As my own kids grew older, I thought about this statement & realized how unintelligent it really is.
An Outdated Cliché
Happiness is an overused, yet insufficient parenting statement. We heard it from our parents, so we pass it on to our kids. What we should focus more on is practicality. When I have the “what do you want to be when you grow up” talk, I tell my children to consider jobs that not only satisfy their personal interests, but pay their bills & allow them to enjoy life.
Just Marry Up?
I once brought up this subject in a public forum and someone actually replied, “What’s wrong with your daughter wanting to be a kindergarten teacher? She’ll ‘marry up’ and be able to afford things.” After my jaw hit the floor & came back up, I explained that I have no intention of teaching my daughters to ‘marry up’, as if that’s a reasonable solution! Hello — did we just go back in time 50 years?
I teach my daughters to be self-confident, independent women who don’t need to rely on others to build a happy life. If my daughter wants to be a kindergarten teacher, then fine, but I also want her to understand how life works and have a plan for saving money. I have great respect for teachers, but it isn’t a secret that teaching jobs often equal financial hardships. Many teachers take second jobs for this reason. If she wants to be a stay-at-home-mom, that’s also fine, but she will need to think about how she plans to pay for rent, food, water, electricity or a night out with friends.
I’m not saying that money is the most important thing in life; it isn’t. I go to great lengths to ensure my kids learn:
· You can’t have everything you want
· Money is necessary, but it’s not the goal
· Work hard, but make time to enjoy life
· Surround yourself with good people
· Be a good friend
Financial Education Can Go a Long Way
Financial education is so important, yet sadly lacking in most schools. Kids graduate high school, move on to college & enter the real world often clueless about how banks & credit cards work. Why aren’t we teaching this? A 10-year old isn’t mature enough to consider what pizza delivery costs, or what Mom & Dad going out to the movies takes out of their bank account, but a little financial education can go a long way.
Giving an allowance, paying kids for small jobs around the house and letting them spend their own money can be a real eye-opener. When my daughter started babysitting, she saved her money for a few months. I took her with me to run some errands and she found something in a clothing store she wanted to buy. When she went to pay, she whispered to me, “Wow, this is really expensive! (it wasn’t), I never realized how much things cost”. I thought, “Yeah, because you weren’t paying before!”.
Being happy is great, but being practical is better. And to the ‘marry up’ lady, all I have to say is, Mr. Rogers called; he’d like his sweater back.