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Book: Ch4/Homework: Tao of Money

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 H20 to Go!

Growing Emotional Resilience and Navigating Through Childhood

with Heart, Humor & Optimism

BY Margo Judge


Our kids cannot learn manners on their own.  They need us to teach them the power of graciousness.  Our kids cannot learn the value of money by themselves. They need us to show them how to respect and share it.  Manners and Money-the two M’s- have an enormous impact on how our children will later, as adults, treat others, and how they will see themselves in relationship to their larger society. It is with these two issues, in particular, that our children’s social behavior and character begin to take shape.

Installment #28

Chapter Four: Homework for The Road: Ours & Theirs

The Tao of Money... Faith and Optimism Within

My father was also a generous soul who gave or loaned money to anyone in need. He would put a quarter in the hands of any homeless person who reached out, or just stood waiting. And when I went through my suspicious stage, and asked him, "How do you know, that man is really blind? Maybe, he's faking!" My father replied, "If he has to fake, he's already worse off than we are."

He was a self made man, who worked very hard to become successful. We did not lack for money. We had everything we needed or wanted. But he felt very strongly that money issues were to be handled with dignity; that you went about your financial business very quietly, and humbly. You did not parade it in front of others to make yourself more important; you did not flaunt it; you did not offer it for friendships, or promises; you would never marry for it, and you would never use it to buy control or abuse power. And most importantly, if you were fortunate enough to have enough, then you were obligated to give back and help someone else, in some way.

So, we come to kids and money and the Tao of Money. How we view money says a great deal about who we are, how we treat people, how we define our priorities, how pursue our endeavors. How we teach our children about money will say a great deal about who they become, and how they conduct their lives.

When my son reached the age of serious window shopping and intense fantasizing, he loved to go to New York and look in the Sony Store and designer car showrooms. He would eagerly show me the most expensive gadgets and driving machines and conclude that those where what he wanted.

And I would reply:

When you can pay for it with your own money that you have made yourself, then you can buy anything you want. I have no doubt that one day, you will make enough money to buy that car! I know you will be very successful. But, always buy your own things with your own money. That way, you can hold your head up high, look in the mirror and say-you know what? I worked for that. I bought it with my own money that I made! No one gave it to me! And you will feel so good about yourself.

So, my son grew up accepting that he would both work and buy his own things. When he first became seriously interested in baseball, I decided that if this was to be his passion, he needed to be willing to invest in it. So, I made him buy his bat with his allowance. He had to give up other things he wanted to get it. He had to make choices. The work ethic is now deep inside of him, along with the philosophy of money I wanted so much for, him to have.

Our natural instinct is to help our kids, and make life a little easier for them than it might have been for some of us. We are willing to spend a lot of money enriching their lives, supporting and helping them up the ladder. On this journey, however, do we tell them we absolutely believe in their ability to make it on their own? Do we remind them constantly, when they do "get there" to turn around and hold out a helping hand to those left back?

In and of itself, there is nothing wrong with wanting to help our children. But, it will not matter how much we assist with school, with employment, with home ownership, with investment, with inheritance; it will not matter how much allowance we give them, or how many toys, or high tech gear, or clothes, or bikes, or cars, we buy for them; how lavishly we spend on their extra-curricular activities, parties, celebrations, vacations, if we don't also give them a philosophy to carry with them, and it is this:

Money is to be respected, used wisely, and thought of ethically.

People who work very hard are to be honored, regardless of their station in life. Affluence is to be earned, and not expected as an entitlement.

Success is not true success unless it is self-made.

Wealth comes with responsibility to give back to others.

Money is a by-product of motivation and achievement.

There was another parent, besides my father, for whom I continue to have tremendous respect when it comes to the Tao of Money. Lillian originally came to us because a friend of mine for whom she worked had to relocate, and was distraught that her beloved housekeeper would lose work. She pleaded with me to let Lillian come to my house once a week. My son was then six months old. Eighteen years later, Lillian is still with us, a treasured member of our extended family, a woman I honor, admire and cherish. She has raised two fabulous children, alone, both of whom I watched grow up, and both of whom have their mother's same impeccable ethics.

Lillian has few material possessions, but more mama strength, mama wisdom, and mama instincts than almost anyone I know. And so, with such surety, did she do something, that to this day, I wonder whether / would have had the courage to do.

Her son was nineteen. He worked hard, but he also liked to buy clothes. And in the summer after his first year of college, he ran up a very large credit card bill. Came September, he did not have enough money to register for school. He went to his mother and asked if she could loan him the money just to register, and he would pay her back from his job wages through the year. She looked him straight in the eye and said no. She told him that he would have to work, pay off his credit card bill and save enough money to go back to school. But, that meant, he would lose a whole year of school, he exclaimed! Well, she said, he should have thought of that before he bought all those clothes. The answer remained, no. She wanted him to understand what it meant to overspend, and not be responsible. He would be a man soon. He needed to understand the consequences now, before he became a father, and had a family and responsibilities

Her son, by the way, went back to school a year later, never again ran up a credit card bill, is now married, has two children and is an extremely responsible father. He has his mother's courage to thank for that.

So, dear friends, what do we want to impart to our children. How do we approach so important an issue in our children's lives? We want them to grow up confident, productive, empathetic, and socially conscious individuals. We want them to be happy and successful in their endeavors, and we want them to feel proud of their achievements. And if we want that, we must be willing to say‑

/ have no doubt you will achieve what you want and achieve it ethically.

I have no doubt that one day, you will be able to afford all that you want, and that you will share your good fortune with others.

I expect you to be financially responsible and self-made and have no doubt you can make that happen for yourself

I will help teach you how, and then cheer you on every bit of the way.

 Book Installment #29 Being There

Updated 2009

H20 to Go! Copyright, 2004
By  Margo Judge

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Book Installment #29/Being There