Five things I hope to teach my children

If I manage to pass these things on to my children, I’ll feel like I’ve done a decent job.

Of course, the list of things I’d like to pass on to my children is much longer than this, but there’s only so much time in the day to write.

How to manage their finances

Apparently I didn’t learn a whole lot about what to do – or what not to do – when it comes to managing my finances well. I’ve learned much in my adult life, but not without having to deal with some major fallout for years (decades?) to come.

We’ve already begun the training with our four-year-old daughter. She doesn’t – nor will she ever get – an allowance. Rather, she has the option to work on special projects for a set amount around the house to earn money that goes into her little coin purse. One day when it’s filled up enough, we’ll take that purse to the store and teach her about buying with the money she’s earned.

Speaking of money, I hope to teach our children …

Going massively in debt for college is a stupid idea

Every month when I make out that payment for the student loans, I want to stab myself in the neck. I went to an affordable college that my parents were generous to help out with, but I also had a scholarship that helped pay for some of the cost as well. If I had that money to spend on anything else than debt, we’d be much better off.

I needed very little student loan money to go through college, but instead used the funds on guitars, recording an album, video games, and other fleeting stuff (see point No. 1). I had no real understanding of how long it would take me to pay it all back. The debt compounded when I got married, as my wife not only had an undergrad degree, but a master’s from the University of Kansas as well (she actually used hers to pay for college, amazingly).

Today we manage fine, but we’ll be paying on these things a long, long, long time unless we find ways to be more agressive to paying the student loans off.

Traveling outside of the country is essential

I was very blessed during college to have opportunities to travel (as part of my schooling, not on student-loan funded getaways) to France, Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras and Nicaragua.

The things I saw changed my worldview and gave me a deeper understanding of what being an American meant. I know people who have barely left the county they live in, let alone their state, region or the country. From my experience, conversing with people who have never traveled outside the country on major political and social issues can be akin to talking with someone who speaks a different language.

If I have to do it myself (despite my resolve to never fly again), my children will see America through other people’s eyes.

Don’t become, date, or marry a teacher

This one is controversial in our household. My wife became a teacher after getting her master’s degree, and it was pretty rough. The long hours, the endless amount of paperwork, dealing with parents (the children weren’t typically the biggest headaches), the idiocy of administration, the list is quite long.

I don’t understand why she enjoys it. She apparently does, as she started an in-home preschool at our domicile, but if there is any way my children can find something else to do with their lives, I’d be thrilled.

Yes, I know that sounds bad. But parents always want a better life for their children, and I don’t want my kids working 50 to 60 hours a week.

Don’t be fearful

Fear can run people’s lives, but only because they let it. Fear keeps people from going after their dreams, doing the things they’d like to do, or taking the chances they need to take. I see it all the time and it drives me crazy. I know people who want to take a risk, but don’t because of fear. I know some who worry about things that never, ever happen, nor had the slightly probability to materialize.

I also know people who aren’t afraid to take chances and come out ahead, mainly because they’re not being held back like their fraidy-cat counterparts. This hasn’t always been my strongest trait. It’s only within the last couple of years that I’ve started taking more risks, being less “safe,” and overwhelmingly, it’s working in my favor.

By the way, if this is you, check out the excellent video Quieting the Lizard Brain by Seth Godin. It’s long, but worth it.

2 thoughts on “Five things I hope to teach my children

  1. Debbi

    Good stuff as usual. #2 particularly resonates with me. I wish I could somehow drum this into everyone’s brain. In most cases it’s so not worth spending the rest of your life making student loan payments. Unfortunately it’s way too easy to borrow money at such a young age.


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