No, I’m not about to start giving you financial advice. But there is a lot we can gain by looking at our parenting in terms of our culture’s need for immediate gratification. Think about your parenting in the same way you do with your finances. One of the first things we learn when managing our money is that we should never buy something that we can’t afford. Yet this is something the credit card industry has allowed us to do. Buy it now and you can pay it off at some distant point in the future…with interest.
The term credit card parenting refers to a parenting style that attempts to reap all the rewards of parenting now without putting in all the work to build character in our children. It means we strive for immediate gratification in our children without taking the time to teach them our moral values. It means we strive to be our child’s peer rather than his parent. It means our parenting has no clear direction or parental intent and we assume that our children will learn our values just by being around us.
When we abuse credit cards, our interest rate goes up, we are slapped with fines of all kinds and we could even end up filing for bankruptcy. We have seen this in the recent mortgage crisis with people buying homes they couldn’t afford. Foreclosures have become rampant
The same is true with our parenting. By not taking the time and effort to establish parental authority and teach our children to obey our authority now, we ultimately end up in moral bankruptcy. We may get immediate gratification, but boy do we pay for it later. High interest rates and penalty fees take the form of children who disrespect their parents and who are solely motivated by their own selfish desires.
Don’t minimize the importance of early parenting. Teach your child now and let him make mistakes now while the stakes are still low. Don’t wait until it’s too late to start teaching your child. And don’t let him stumble his way through life learning only by losing friends, getting fired and getting into huge debt. Your job as a parent is to teach him appropriate behaviors and moral values so he has a firm foundation upon which to build the rest of his life. Give him this benefit and richness will follow.