Like many parents, I recently experienced the sadness and euphoria of sending our first child off to college. As much as you can prepare yourself for that moment, it’s an incredibly bittersweet moment as you pull away from campus and see your child really start to begin life on their own. These are the beginning moments where they make more decision on their own, handle their day to day affairs, and begin to take over the basic management of their finances.
I’ve always considered myself to be a parent who would tell my child like is really is without any of the sugar coating. It wasn’t long before my children realized my feelings on things including why participation trophies make no sense, why your chores in the house don’t deserve allowance, and that soon they will be responsible for their own financial future. I am in the financial planning business, so you can imagine that money is a top of mind topic in my household.
Since I earned everything I have today from scratch, I’ve wanted to provide a good life for my family while teaching them fiscal responsibility. Many parents will convince themselves that they won’t just hand things to their kids on a silver platter. Especially the ones that had nothing and built up their own small fortune. They will tell their children that when they get on their own to not expect a ton of help from Mom and Dad. They will tell their children that they’ll have to figure it out on their own. They will tell their kids that have to manage their own checking account at school and there won’t be handouts from Mom and Dad.
Then it happens. In a flash of gusting wind, you melt like the Wicked Witch of the West in Dorothy of Oz. As much as the logic side of your mind says no, you will not be able to overcome the feelings in your hear and you will say YES! It happened to me, just the other weekend when I dropped my daughter off at college. I had convinced myself I would take the hard line and tell her we bought the school supplies, the bedding, the printer,etc. and enough is enough!
However, at that moment when I realized she wouldn’t be coming home with us, I freely became her personal ATM machine. “You sure you don’t need anything else? A sweatshirt so you aren’t cold? Another trip to the grocery store to get some more goodies? Do you need more cash? Any gadgets you need?” It’s funny, because I would have given her just about anything and all of financial willpower was knocked senseless as if someone had put financial kryptonite in my pocket.
No matter what you tell yourself on how hard you’ll be on your kids, when it gets right down to it you will say YES when they need you most. No matter what the cost. It’s not logical, but then again most of the decisions we make in life are generally from our heart and not our head. So, just roll with it. Teach them good behaviors about money and you can only hope that they will take those lessons with them for the rest of their lives. For one day, somewhere, you will melt like the Wicked Witch of the West.