When I was in my teenage years, I used to argue with my parents whenever they opposed my plans of getting that (admittedly shitty) temp job, choosing an internship, backpacking abroad, and so on. I thought (and still think) my parents were being overprotective.
Today, I find myself in many situations in my work and social life where my lack of life experience is painfully obvious. Maybe if my parents had trusted my desires instead…?
But was it my parents’ fault? No, my dad and mom had the best intentions for me, they were doing what they thought was best for me. There’s no one to blame.
The difference between good and bad parenting may be common sense at first thought, but it’s not like there’re schools or textbooks to teach you what to do and what not to do in any situation. Sometimes, what may be “good parenting” might lead to your child learning the wrong values, especially when it comes to money. Here are 4 examples:
1. When you give your kids the BEST of everything
When it comes to our kids, it makes sense that we want the best for them. The whole point of why we slave away at our jobs everyday is to provide our kids with everything they need. But when we choose to buy them that pair of Adidas sneakers instead of the cheaper ones at the neighbourhood shops, your kid might not process this choice the same way:
Oh wow, these Adidas sneakers not bad ah. The rubber soles thick enough, sponge-y enough, and got option for flat-foot also. Buy this better so baby’s developing feet won’t get injured when he’s learning to walk and run.
Your little one’s thinking:
Daddy bought me this pair of shoes instead of the ones I saw at the wet market. This pair came from a nice shop. This pair is more expensive. So everything that comes from a nice shop and is expensive must be better. Also, Daddy, I’m not a baby. I’m six years old. I’ve been walking for four years now.
It’s pretty funny if you think about it really. Just like when you say a whole slew of words in front of your kid and all they absorb is THAT ONE VULGAR WORD you accidentally threw in there.
If you don’t explain your decision, kids won’t think of quality the same way we do. They won’t see the thicker soles or lighter fabrics used. They’ll just draw their conclusions from what they CAN see. They translate high prices and nice shop fronts as quality purchases.
But we all know that’s not true. Companies may charge higher prices because of the cost of their extensive R&D processes and rigorous quality checks, but sometimes they just charge more for “brand value”. Quality does not necessarily equate to expensive brands. A t-shirt from Uniqlo is not inferior to a Calvin Klein one.
Good parenting means helping your kid grow up knowing the difference between chasing quality, and chasing brands.
2. When you find ways and means to motivate them to study hard
All Singaporean parents want their kids to do well. So we turn into tiger moms and drill them to study, and when that doesn’t work, we use incentives like cash or rewards to motivate them to score well. Nothing wrong with that right? In the real world, you get rewarded for results!
…Except you wouldn’t want your kid to grow up too reliant on external motivation. Because in the workplace, hard work doesn’t always lead to results, and you don’t always get paid what you think you deserve. If your child’s reasons for working hard is always tied to some form of reward, they may fail to see the bigger picture – that self-motivation is what will help you succeed in life, with or without monetary reward.
Good parenting means making sure your child doesn’t equate success with drowning in material goods.
3. When you forbid your kids to start work young so they can concentrate on their studies
You stop your kids from taking up that part-time job or internship fearing that they’ll be too drained of energy to focus on their studies. You want them to get plenty of rest, and have as much time as possible to prepare for their exams. You’d rather be the one to provide them with all the resources they need to get into the local universities so they don’t have to worry about money.
So gap years, internships and part-time jobs are out of the question. Sometimes, even when they’re organized by the school!
But do not forget; Your kid may not necessarily use his free time productively. Teenagers often waste their free time on gaming, going out, even engaging in BGRs! Freeing up their time may not lead to the results you hope for.
What’s more, your child’s teenage years are a period with intense peer pressure. Your kid will not only be asking for a laptop, facial products, dermatologist visits for cystic breakouts, but they’ll also be demanding pocket money to pay for things that will help them fit in with their friends, like clothes and cafes.
Good parenting means letting them get a taste of work while they’re younger and helping them better learn the value of money. Most importantly, they get to learn more about themselves in the process. How are they supposed to pick their specialisation for their degree in the future if they don’t know what industry they’ll excel in?
4. Helping your kids manage their finances
What started out as good intentions to help your kid save for university when they were young, turned into managing your kid’s finances even when they’re already working adults. Why? Because you want to ensure your kid doesn’t go into debt and has enough to pay for the wedding and the house… even before they’ve found a suitable partner.
So you force your kids to give you a fixed portion of their income every month, but what you’re really doing is paying their bills and setting aside some savings for them. How you divide the amount, they do not know. All they know is, they get to spend whatever’s left in their bank accounts.
While this method is may be great in theory – you’ll be able to keep a grip on your kid’s spending and also ensure that they don’t mess up and miss paying their bills, you might want to think of the long-term effects such practices might have on your kids’ money management habits.
If someone else is always helping them pay their bills or set aside savings, will they ever be disciplined enough to do so on their own? Especially when they (hopefully) get married?
I’m sure you’re planning to manage your kid’s finances even when they have their own families (which will probably lead to tension with their partners).
Good parenting is letting your children learn how manage their money early.
Do you know of any parents guilty of the above? How did their children turn out? We want to hear from you.