If you’ve got children you’ll know that it’s not a cheap exercise. There’s always something that you need to spend on your children to give them the best opportunities in life. As a parent, we all want the best for our children. But my question is, “Where do you draw the line? How much do you actually help your children out financially so that they can get going in their life?”
I know that everybody says how much harder it is nowadays for children to get set up, to buy a property, to basically just get started in life. To get a job, to get the kind of work that they want. There isn’t the security in employment and in jobs that there used to be in probably our parent’s age, maybe not so much in my life but – where do you draw the line?
The problem that I find is that parents are spending so much on their children, in assisting their children so much that they’re not looking after themselves and providing for themselves – for their own retirement and they’re ending up in the situation where they don’t have the finances to either be able to retire, or if they have any medical issues to be able to fund those issues and they then end up having to be looked after by their children.
Is this now a case of, “Well we’ve helped you out to this stage, now it’s your turn to help us out,” or do you get to the stage where the child is at a certain age and you go, “Right you’re on your own. Sort it out. We had to. Get on and do it.”
I don’t believe that there is a correct answer or a one solution suits everybody and I certainly believe that it is our responsibility as parents to equip our children as best as we can to look after themselves when they become adults.
A lot of that isn’t just to do with numbers and money. It also relates to just the basic skills and are they learning those skills at school? Are they able to look after their own finances? Are they able to teach themselves new skills? In this day and age no job is going to be there permanently. People aren’t going to go and get a job at age 18 and stay with that job till age 65 or when they retire. There is going to be a constant moving of jobs. Jobs are going to be replaced by machines. Our children are going to be working in jobs that don’t even exist nowadays.
What is the solution?
Where do we draw the line?
How do we get them to become more responsible as children so that they become more responsible as adults?
I know there are beliefs of “Let’s have a cleaner to help us,” and I think that that is great – cleaning is not my number 1 fun activity to do – but I find that by allowing the children to be involved in the cleaning process makes them appreciate the effort that is involved in cleaning up. It enables them to be more respectful with what they do with what they have – and not making a mess in the first place. You don’t want the child to grow up with the belief that they can just make a mess because someone else will come along and tidy up behind them. We want children to grow up to be adults who are thoughtful of others. I don’t think it is a bad thing for children to be involved in helping around the house and doing chores. It can be more time consuming to get them to do it than doing it yourself, but is it not worth it to know that they will be capable of looking after themselves. What happens when they go out into the world and they can’t afford to have a cleaner when they first start out? Will they know how to look after themselves? And yes, it is a skill that can be learnt once they’re out there, but how much better if they can do that in the beginning.
What about education?
How much of their education do you pay for?
In Australia we are very fortunate in that the Government does give loans for university students which can be paid back and through one’s earnings. Your taxable income determines what percentage you pay back. Coming from South Africa, which never gave any kind of benefit or assistance towards your education, I find the system absolutely fantastic and it means that nobody need go without getting further education. If you have the ability, and you can prove that you can get into university, then you can get that education and I personally believe that it is up to the child to to pay for that education. If they want it, then they need to take on the responsibility and and pay for it.
Sometimes a parent will think that they will pay for one degree, but what if you have a child that wants to become a serial student and just keep on studying? Do you keep paying for those things or would you eventually say, “No, that’s as much as I’m going to pay for, it’s now your turn.”
It’s an interesting issue as to how much you contribute and assist your children and as I said – there isn’t a definite answer as to what you need to do.
The most important ingredient I think in bringing up your children is love. Loving your children. Listening to their needs. Providing to the best of your abilities so that they can chose opportunities and experience things that interest them. They can pursue those and see where they want to go.
Children are wiser than what we give them credit for. They have an innate knowledge of what they want to to do and more often than not we squash that out of them with all the study that we get them to to do.
Walk that fine line. Make sure that you’re providing for yourself and you’re not giving up everything. You’re not sacrificing your whole life and your whole future for your child. Allow your child to have the experience of actually striving for achieving what they want. They will appreciate it when they achieve it that much more if they have had to make a contribution and sacrifice themselves to get where they are.
Give them the love and set them up for success. Even people like Warren Buffett, who has more than enough money to probably keep their children that they don’t even have to work, said that they are paying for them for the education, they are getting them set up from that perspective and after that, they’re on their own. There’s no inheritance. They don’t get a share of his wealth. He’s going to be donating his wealth to charity, so it’s up to his children to make the best of their life and make a success of their lives.
What are your thoughts as to how much financial support you give your children? Share with us below.