Sunday, August 16, 2009

Spoiled Brat

Today is part 18 of a 30 day commitment. To read about how I am blogging to change my life please read here first.

I grew up hearing that I was a spoiled brat a lot. I guess I deserved it. I don't think that there were many other kids at my elementary school that wore a Rolex. The truth is, there is a lot more to the story.

My parents divorced when I was 5. I was raised by my mother. The household consisted of me, my two brothers, a dog named Nellie and my Mom. Mom worked full time. She had a number of different cars over the years, starting with a faux wood paneled Oldsmobile station wagon. We lived in the home that Mom and Dad lived in together, which was a really nice home. Besides the home there was nothing about how I was raised on a day to day level that was affluent. That sure didn't stop people from deciding that I was rich.

I certainly felt rich when I visited my Dad though. My dad always had a wad of cash with him. Always. He was extremely generous with his money with us. As a matter of fact, he was very generous with his money to everybody. In his world, money was ridiculously easy. Why not spend it, there will always be more coming in. There was nothing that we asked for that we didn't get. He might have said no at first, but it didn't take much to pester him to the point of getting it.

I had new bikes and a parts account at my local bike shop. All I had to do was call him and ask if it was OK. Any time we visited him and my stepmother they bought us new clothes and toys. It was an interesting contrast to how I lived my daily life and how I saw my mother treat money. At home, my allowance was .25. Really. It would take several weeks to save up enough to by a candy bar at the Bow Mobil on Saturdays when I rode my bike into town. My friends actually had quite a bigger allowance than me. And believe me, I did plenty around the house by the way of chores. I really think that she wanted to be the Yin to the Yang that my father created. She didn't want us to be spoiled brats.

I grew up knowing that I could get anything that I wanted, even if I didn't live like that on a day to day basis. I was, by most peoples standards, a spoiled brat. Hold that thought for a minute.

Amy grew up in a middle class family with a sister and three brothers. Her family didn't struggle, but were a typical American family. She heard "we can't afford that" many times in her life. She did not grow up in the world of abundance that I saw with my Dad. If my Dad had not been in the picture my upbringing as far as outlook on money would have mirrored hers exactly.

So the spoiled brat grows up knowing that there is a way to get anything that they want and the "typical" child grows up hearing "we can't afford that". They learn that there are things that they just can't and will never have. They do not grow up believing that they can have whatever they want.

As parents most of us deny our kids a lot of things. Even if we can afford it. We are terrified that our kids will become spoiled brats. Who wants a kid who whines until they get what they want? Who wants a kid who doesn't work for their money? We teach our kids that money doesn't come easily. It takes hard work. If we just give them stuff they will never understand how much hard work it takes to get our things. We want them to know that in order to have money they need to study hard, go to college, and get good grades. This will lead to getting a good job where they can work up the corporate ladder until they have a high paying job. That's the way it works, right?

National Powersports has done well for Amy and I. In 7 short years we have gone from eating Ramen Pride's and terrified that we can't pay the mortgage to pretty comfortable. The funny thing is that I have to beg for Amy to buy anything. She is always afraid to spend money. Her attitude about money is exactly the same as it was growing up. "We can't afford that" is ingrained into her personality. She is getting better, but her natural instincts are to not spend it.

I, on the other hand, being the spoiled brat, am not afraid to spend money. I know that I can use my brain to create more money. I grew up seeing both sides. It created an abundance mentality in my personality.

I struggle with this as a parent. I want my kids to see that they can have anything that they want, but I do want them also to realize that you have to work for it. My idea of having to work is not the get good grades and a good job method though. I want them to see that they can create money if they use their minds. I do not give my kids ANY allowance. And yes, the have chores. I do not buy them everything that they want, even though I want them to have everything in the world.

When Max was 11 he was super into Lego's. I decided that I would give him a lesson that I wish that had been taught to me when I was his age. I told him that I was not buying him any more sets, but I could show him how to have as many sets as he wanted. I made him a loan for a soda machine and the first load of soda. It was a three year loan at 6% interest. I allowed him to place the machine in the shop. He was fully responsible for the machine and stocking it. If it broke, he wouldn't make any money. It has done well for him and now he knows that he can create as much money as he wants. It still takes work, but it is not what the schools teach.

So why don't we want our kids to be spoiled? I wonder how many peoples upbringing and outlook on money is a key factor in them not believing that this world will give them whatever they want. Why is it that when our sons and daughters are kids we deny them things to make sure they are not spoiled, but later in life we tell them that they can have anything in life they want? I always hated being called a spoiled brat. Now looking back at it, I guess it's not such a bad thing.

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