Q:My husband and I are not on the same page when it comes to money and our three teenage daughters. I think they should learn to work and make some money, but he doesn’t care if they work or not. Plus, he insists on regularly buying them big-ticket items they don’t deserve like cameras and fancy phones. What can I do about this?
A:You’re right about one thing. Kids should learn to work and make money at an early age. I’ve given nice gifts to my kids, but the difference is that they work and make money for themselves, too. The nice gifts I gave them were for special occasions. Showering them with expensive toys all the time was not our way of life.
In this situation, your husband is allowing them to be nothing but consumers. They’re not learning how to work and they’re not learning how to save or give. This is setting them up for a lifetime of unrealistic expectations, and it’s a really bad plan. If nothing changes you’re going to end up with kids who think they’re princesses. They’ll believe the entire world revolves around them and the poor guys who marry them will spend the rest of their lives trying to keep three spoiled little girls happy.
Still, I think the biggest problem here is that you and your husband are experiencing a marital breakdown. If the kids were taken out of the picture, the same problems would still be there. The difference is that they would manifest themselves in other ways. He needs to stop being so impulsive, but maybe you could lighten up a little and try to establish some guidelines as to when gifts are appropriate. There’s a middle ground you guys can reach, but it’s going to take some time and effort. Most of all it means the two of you are going to have to work together.
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