Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Saying No

Last fall, I facilitated a new Dave Ramsey Financial Peace group on Sunday evening and what a powerful group it was.  We had everything from a young adult who freely admitted that he never has money to pay his bills and has to borrow from parents and grandparents, to couples who couldn't agree on finances to retirees who wanted to know how to invest. I loved the variety of different ages and circumstances because there is so much to share with each other. Here was my favorite exchange: a mom is discussing how they never have any money and part of the problem is the constant drain on their finances on the part of her teenagers who constantly need everything from a homecoming dress to club dues. She just can't seem to say no. Another group member who is in her twenties talks about how her parents never told her no either and how they really didn't do her any favors by taking that approach because consequently, she never learned to say no to herself. That is such an important statement that I am going to repeat it.  Because her parents never said no to her and her needs, she now doesn't know how to delay self gratification.  She has a very difficult time denying herself material things which of course strains her finances. I could see that this was truly powerful information for this couple. The mom thought she was helping her children have a better life when really she was setting them up for disaster down the road. We want to give our children a head start in life and think that to do that we have to make sure they take advantage of every opportunity. We think this is going to make them successful and happy. Parents have a hard time denying children anything, whether it's a car when they turn 16 or 4 years at the college of their choice. As a parent, I can certainly relate to the difficulty, but one thing that I have learned is that we don't do our children any favors when we take this approach. Instead of helping our children develop a lifestyle we need to help our children develop character. Character develops when there is adversity and we have to look inside ourselves for the resources to overcome it. When it comes to money, we need to educate our children to save, spend and give. In these difficult economic times, it doesn't hurt at all to involve our children in household finances so they too can learn to manage money and learn to make successful choices for their future.

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