Needs, Wants, and Entitlement: What Do You Really Owe Your Kids?Heather Sokol
I’ve had some interesting feedback from the post I wrote on our kids’ allowance. Some people are horrified that I would limit our budget for books or school functions. Apparently, a school carnival is an absolute right in some minds. Others have even gone so far as to tell me I had too many children, if I can’t afford them.
Let’s just start there, shall we? That allowance I’m teaching my children to budget, came from of my own money. The money I use to afford my children. I’m still spending money on them all day, every day. We just do things differently. It’s about teaching them to manage money, rather than constantly paying for things they don’t need. But, one of the arguments is that children need books.
Sure. Reading is important. We have shelves and shelves of books. My kids also each have a library card, and I take them weekly if not more. Books are an essential part of childhood — but we don’t have to own them all. And I don’t have to send money to the school book fair for my kids to spend on overpriced junk, giant erasers we don’t need, and posters that rip on the bus before they ever make it home.
When faced with the choice between crappy toys and books they’ve either already read or can pick up at the library tomorrow, my kids will choose the junk every time. They’re welcome to take their own money for that. Same with school extras. As mentioned in the original post, I pay for school supplies, educational experiences, and field trips. Because they truly need those, but should I also have to pay for glittery pens, smelly erasers, or movie nights?
I just don’t think so. I’d rather spend money on a family fun activity or vacation than shell out $5 per kid for a movie they’ve watched a dozen times at home. If they want to go, the school provides plenty of notice, and I gladly offer reminders and help them set aside the amount they will need to attend.
I think the real problem here isn’t in misunderstanding the point of my post or simply disagreeing with the way our family budgets money. It’s that so many people think kids are entitled to some sort of magical childhood. Do kids really need a room full of toys, expensive name brand clothing, and regular outings for ice cream?
Nope. Kids need love. Kids need support. Kids need to be taught values and the life skills necessary to become productive members of society. Life skills like budgeting money, saving up for things they really want, and making tough choices. Like whether to spend their weekly allowance on the ice cream truck or ball park snacks.