My son really wants to buy a house here, but it will really stress our financial situation if we help him with the down payment.
– A mom talking to her friend at the grocery store.
For many parents, helping their children financially is of the utmost importance. They will often try to please the young ones even if it means delaying their retirement plans. 529 plans before 401ks, going to Gap kids before the Gap, and paying for a high school graduation trip before the high school reunion.
Kids first right?
The stories my mom shared with us projected a very stressed financial situation when we grew up, but my sister and I never knew. We got most of what we wanted growing up, we never ever felt deprived financially and more importantly, we were never denied of any opportunities because of financial reasons.
We were so lucky and my parents made sacrifices that we couldn’t even dream of. Yet, I wanted to hop over and tell the mom to not help her son at the grocery store. It’s one thing when you can retire comfortably (or at least be well on your way) and have extra savings lying around, but it’s another to worry night and day so your children can delay the inevitable reality check – the fact that money doesn’t fall from the sky.
When we were in college, there were all sorts of students. There are some that worked really hard, and there were others that didn’t even go to the lectures. There were students that borrowed money up to their eyeballs to attend classes, while others worked part time to supplement their living. There was every combination in between, but one permutation was always missing. Those who needed to work their ass off just to pay for college always paid attention in classes. It’s not surprising that those people usually came out ahead in later years regardless of how smart they seemed too.
I speak with many entrepreneurs and successful business people regularly, and it’s amazing how many of them had a tough upbringing. One of the common traits they have is that they NEVER give up. They NEVER EVER give up. Compared this to people who had a dream like childhood, and it’s obvious that many of them lack the toughness to keep fighting when times got tough. I’m no psychologist, so I cannot tell you why this happens. One thing is for sure though. When you never need to fight at a young age, it’s much more difficult to develop the mindset to keep fighting when you grow up.
If you are financially affluent, then give your child the support they could get. However, if the means aren’t there, don’t try to manufacture a false reality for your child. It doesn’t help you for sure, and I doubt it helps them either. You won’t be here forever, and your child eventually needs to strike it out on their own.
When I overheard the conversation about the down payment at the grocery store a few days ago, I wanted to walk over and introduce myself. Instead, the better part of me realized how impolite it would have been and decided to write this piece. This is dedicated to all the loving parents out there. I’d like to represent all the children out there and thank you for all your support and love. Without you, we will all be half the people we are.