By Bear State Bank

Mama Bears. Part 4

Like most parents, I have a few control issues.
“Mom, can I light the fuse on the fireworks?”
“No, you’re not old enough yet.”
“Can we give the cat a bubble bath?”
“No because that would end badly and probably include bleeding.”

…………

But when it comes to money mistakes, sometimes the best thing parents can do is let our kids mess up – especially when they’re young and the consequences aren’t critical.

But when it comes to money mistakes, sometimes the best thing parents can do is let our kids mess up – especially when they’re young and the consequences aren’t critical.

There have been many times when one of our three kids has wanted a toy – something that my husband and I could see was cheap and likely to break after one use – and we’re tempted to say no. If we’re the ones buying the toy, we often do say no. But if our kid is using his own money to buy the toy in question, we let him do it – even when we know it’s a bad spend.

Sometimes the best way to see that something isn’t worth the money is to actually see it – with your own eyes and with the experience of paying for something that doesn’t live up to expectations. As hard as it has been to see our son’s disappointment on occasion, we also know that learning the hard way means he’s learning the valuable lessons about money we all must learn.

Rachel Cruze, daughter of financial guru Dave Ramsey and co-author of the book Smart Money Smart Kids, writes that she clearly remembers an early lesson about money when she spent all her money at an amusement park carnival game at age six. When she kept playing the game and losing repeatedly, her parents didn’t stop her. But when the money was gone, they didn’t give in to her whining and begging for more money.

“When the money’s gone, it’s gone.”

She said she remembers her father saying, “When the money’s gone, it’s gone.” Though painful in the moment, she said that her parents allowing her to learn that lesson at age six was an incredible gift.

“Your children are going to learn some hard lessons when it comes to money. They are going to make some bad decisions, maybe some really bad decisions. But that’s okay. That’s how we learn,” Cruze writes. “So it’s not a matter of whether or not they will make a mistake; it’s a question of what size mistake they’ll make before they learn how to control their spending. As a parent, you’ve got to let your children fail so they can learn from their mistakes early, when the stakes are low. Making a stupid decision with a video game purchase at thirteen isn’t quite as devastating as making a stupid car-buying decision at twenty-three.”

Finally, when parents take away a kid’s ability to control their own money, we are, in effect, taking away their money, too. If we control the spending decisions, the money isn’t really theirs.

When money is truly yours, the way you spend it should be your decision, whether you’re 80 or 8. So while I might put the brakes on decisions about fireworks and feline bubble baths, I’ll let go of control when my kids make a less-than-wise decision with their money. I’d rather see them lose it now so that, when they’re older, they’ll be wise enough to keep it when it counts.

Source: Smart Money, Smart Kids: Raising the Next Generation to Win with Money, by Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze.

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