Should I Buy My 16 Year Old A New Car Are We Robbing Our Children?

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Are We Robbing Our Children?

Robbing our children?… Sounds pretty evil; I mean, what loving parent would do that? No good parent would intentionally steal anything from their child. We’re breaking our backs so they can have a better life than we had, an easier road with fewer bumps. And yet, robbery is the word that comes to mind when I talk to my parents about birthdays, Christmas, new cars… don’t get me wrong, I’m as guilty as anyone in many areas, but I I honestly believe that we are raising children who are not destined to be well-adjusted, happy adults.

Let me start with what we did right. As my oldest daughter approached her first birthday, it occurred to me that if I hired a marching band, three clowns, an inflatable space jumping machine (or whatever they’re called) and invited 50 of her little friends, how would I match it on her second birthday?… and third and twelfth? What will her expectations be each year as her birthday approaches? We thought about it and decided early on that birthdays should always be treated as special occasions, but in an age-appropriate way, and it paid off.

Every year she could invite as many friends as she was old, I would make (or buy) a special cake for her, and she knew that the total for her birthday would not exceed $100 – and that included her gift. She often had to decide between throwing a party with lots of friends and something special like a magician OR take the money and run, so to speak, and have the holiday at home with her family, a dinner of her choice and a really cool gift. She once chose Busch Gardens for herself and a friend over a big gift… you get the idea. We followed this tradition with our second child and he is a grateful child too.

We got it wrong in a lot of other areas, like trying to intervene when it’s clear that they had to deal with a messy situation of their own making. I could go on about what we did wrong, but I won’t. I want to follow this theme and suggest that since we want our children to have everything that other children have, we try to free them from the pain and suffering associated with a sense of lack, want or lack; we are robbing them of the most precious gift they were born with – the satisfaction that comes from working hard and achieving their dreams.

I thought my stepdad was a jerk because most of my friends had cars by the time they were 16. MY stepdad bought me a beat up old car when I got a job and needed it, but he was under contract (!). and I had to pay him back every penny with interest (1%). When I missed two payments, the contract said he would take the car back and sell it. I knew he would, so I never missed a payment, And most of what I earned at work went to pay him. It was the best lesson he could have taught me. When I needed to get back on my feet after leaving the house, I returned briefly. My parents agreed to help me as much as they could, but felt that I should pay a small amount of rent once I found a job if I continued to live there. Even though I was twenty-one, I had to follow house rules, including calling if I was late or didn’t come home. No twenty-one year old wants to follow someone else’s rules after living on their own, so I was very motivated to get back on my own two feet! This is also what I expect from my now twenty one year old daughter. Regardless of her age, there was no way I was going to worry about why my daughter wasn’t home at 3am. Calling is the right thing to do.

The things I’m most proud of in my life are the things I’ve done myself, and none of them have been easy or painless. I’m not saying we shouldn’t help our children, but we should do it responsibly… and you know what that is. If you feel like you’re being taken advantage of, you probably are. Appreciation for what we have worked for and our ability to follow our dreams and achievements is the KEY to happiness and contentment, and yet we lovingly rob our children of this important gift in an attempt to help them, to save them from pain. We do this with the best of intentions, and then often wonder why our teenagers are so ungrateful, why they never leave the house, why they take advantage and wait…hmm, I wonder. Look in the mirror, forgive yourself for making a mistake (it wasn’t in the manual after all, I’ve looked many times), and then lovingly move forward with some rules and guidelines that work for YOU.

I suggest you think before you buy them that new car… think before you organize Cirque du Salei to entertain your child on their eighth birthday… think before you give them the world before they have the opportunity to work for this. Help them, but make sure they have a part in it too…they’ll thank you someday, promise.

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