Here is another guest posting from our great friend John.
Material deprivation, early responsibility and self direction
The other day my son wanted a pair of Nike air max shoes. It seems these are all the rage these days. We checked the price, $130 and up to as high as $180, for a pair of sneakers. We took the opportunity to teach him about the value of money. I told him that we would pay $50 to buy the shoes, the remainder will come out of his allowance. At the end, we bought a pair of older more basic model of Nike air max for $40. We gave him some sole gel inserts which added to the comfort of the shoes.
All the tiger mom talk we see, I felt that what is missing in the equation are three things.
1. material deprivation.
2. early responsibility.
3. Self direction
These tasks are made harder by rich relatives. We paid our kids five dollars a month for their allowance, for which they earn interest in the mommy daddy bank. On Thanksgiving, the kids received $500 each from their great aunt, it makes the allowance puny in comparison. We will now have to institute a rule that all such gifts be confiscated for their college expense.
I think that especially in today’s world, material deprivation is necessary for the development of a child. Kids today have so much, it is very easy to get lost in the ipads and the Nike shoes that they failed to learn the responsibility of having money. Material deprivation also instill a sense of drive. My friend was talking about teaching his kid to play guitar the other day and he lamented that kids today do not have the drive like when he was growing up. When he was growing up, there was not music lessons, so after having been bitten by the bug of guitar playing, he would go and buy himself a guitar, and learn to play songs he hear from the radio, all done on his own will. Because everything is handed to them, and also because of the busy schedule, even kids raised by tiger moms today do not have this desire from within to learn something on their own.
An example of the success of material deprivation was the raising of William Randolph Hearst, whose mother “took joy in depriving her son of material things”. I think without that, he would not rise to be the titan that he was. A life in which the wants are always sated is a life ruined because it rob them of their good senses and their drive.
Early responsibility is also important. My kids picked out their own clothes to wear each day from an early age. They took baths on their own since about five or six. My daughter, at nine, is not only helping out with household tasks, but also helping to cook. She really love to do the work and got recognition from our Thanksgiving guests for the outstanding dish she made. There is nothing like taking responsibility and the initiative to do something and getting feedback that you have done a good job. No amount of empty praise from adults can substitute the feedback of real success.
A big portion of the CEOs of the world had something happened in their childhood caused them to step up and take responsibility not only on their own lives, but also for their sibling’s.
I think early childhood responsibility is crucial in developing a strong adult.
Finally, I think that kids should be given the freedom to initiate their own projects and to pursue their own interest. This is the antithesis of the tiger mom way of raising kids, where every minute of their life is crammed and filled to the brim with work. This creates initiative and develop interests at an early age where they developed passion for somethings of their own choosing.
Unfortunately, both here and world wide, the trend is to give more things to the kids and shield them from any responsibilities to take care of themselves and others. Even in China, where life of the parents were difficult, it was always the norm to leave the kids with more material things and to shield them from hardship and responsibilities. And I think Chinese everywhere have a tendency to be the tiger mom when given the chance and not to allow their kids to pursue work on their own. I think more then the dysgenic trend, which would have an effect in a century or two, this trend of child spoiling will result in a lost generation in as little as a couple of decades. You can already see this in the current generation of Americans, or even people grow up after the war. A friend of mine was in his fifties. Worked until the dot com bust in 2002, when he lost his job. Instead of getting up and finding another, he has chosen to claim bogus disability and no longer works. His son finished college, and is now working at a local grocery store bagging groceries, with no direction in his life. With many examples like this which I personally witnessed, one can see the degradation of character across the generations. Getting worse as each generation comes to past.
Increasingly, our prosperity is getting in the way of raising good kids.