Credit card parenting

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.



Filed under moral training, parenting philosophy

6 responses to “Credit card parenting

  1. Enjoyed this post, I believe this is something that I may be dealing with right now….I try to “train in times of nonconflict” but when I go to the store or go to eat in a restaurant, my 19 month old is very whiny and her attention span is about 15 minutes. No, I never let her down from the highchair or buggy, but it can be so embarrassing sometimes! I do not want to “credit card” and give in, what are some things I can do to train her and remedy this? I already have her sit in the highchair at home with timer to play…any suggestions?

  2. Maureen

    I have a couple thoughts. First, be absolutely sure you never give in to the whining. It can creep in at times we’re never fully aware of. My little one, Lucas (16 mos), is a big whiner, but I try to be on constant alert for the whining. I will stop, look in his eyes, shh him with my finger on my lips or say “ah ah”. This usually works to quiet him. Only then do I give him what he wants. After doing this for a few weeks, he now knows that I won’t pick him up while he’s whining. When he sees me reaching toward him, he will stop, even if he’s in a full-blown cry. It’s amazing how quickly he can turn the tears off. So for the next few days, be on constant alert for when the whining happens and work to stop it in its tracks.

    You say you have her sit and play in the highchair but do you also do roomtime or playpen time? Allowing them that independent play time (out of your sight) is huge and will help so much. Sometimes after a particularly rough day, I will send William up for an extra session of roomtime. It totally recharges his batteries and is exactly what he needs. And I can tell that both kids are more fussy and whiny when they haven’t had it. (We went to a play group this morning so both kids missed it. I will have to add it in later in the day.)

    Also think about when you are going to the store or restaurant. Is she tired or hungry? If so, you’re just asking for trouble. With the restaurant, you might want to go for breakfast or an early dinner after she’s had a nap. Then after things get better, you can try going for a later dinner. You might also want to offer her a small snack at home or bring it with you to the restaurant so you’re not asking her to sit there hungry waiting for the food to come. And don’t feel like you need to entertain her at the restaurant. If you’re pulling out toy after toy and she keeps pushing them away (and whining at the same time), just let her sit there. Don’t pull out any toys to begin with and see how she does. Again, playpen time will really help with this.

    I’ve also noticed, particularly at the store, it helps to involve the kids. Instead of saying, “don’t touch that” the whole time, I say, “can you hold the list?” “Can you look for the apples?” “Can you give that to the cashier?” It gets them excited to help and everyone is much happier.

    Hope that helps!

  3. Salina

    Christie, that’s when I started the folding hands technique with James and it has really helped, esp. in public places when he needs to be quiet. When he’s starts whining or is about to lose it because he isn’t getting his way, I look him straight in the eye and tell him to put his hands together and tell him to get some self control. He obeys very well with this so far. We taught it at first as a game at home though at a time we wanted him to be patient waiting for food to come to the table- and really praised him that he could do it.

  4. Thanks ladies so much! I do both roomtime and playpen time everyday. She does well with both. I sometimes combine playpen time with her tv time when I shower. It is comforting to know that I am not the only one who has had issues with whining! I will definitely work on the ideas from you both. Thanks again!

  5. Lynn

    I have also seen parents who WISH they had an obedient, respectful child, but do nothing to train their child. It is like they just hope that he will wake up and magically be obedient without them having to do any work to train the child. Parenting is hard work-it takes planning ahead, and being on top of your parenting plan and goals. Kim recently blogged about that here-

  6. Jessica

    I couldn’t agree more! This is my biggest struggle when it comes to keeping my mouth shut around other moms. I understand that it’s easier for the moment to parent an action and not actually address the behavior – like hiding veggies in cookies rather than teaching your child to choose healthy foods – you’re only setting him up to make unhealthy choices in the future, but for now, you’re both happy! There are countless situations like this that are common practice for parents, and it absolutely terrifies me! You WILL be paying for these choices down the road…and it will be at your child’s expense. So sad.

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