This is a guest post from Sarah Faulkner. She is a homeschooling mom in Washington state. She has five kids, ages 14, 13, 10, 7, and 3.

If high school is supposed to prepare you for the real world, I am glad I don’t live by their definition of the real world. Because in the real world:

1.  No one cares how popular you were.

2.  No one cares how much you spent on your degree.

3.  Your degree does not guarantee job opportunities.

4.  If you don’t pay your bills, you don’t eat.

Some kids become screw ups and others are fine. I don’t think it always has to do with if you have money available or not, abusive home or not, etc. The difference is how you prepare your kids. And I think the best way to prepare your kids to enter into the real world is to understand the difference between rich thinking and poor thinking.

I grew up so poor. We sat under blankets on the couch because a breeze would blow across the floor and we couldn’t afford the heat to combat the air leaks. This was after we put plastic on the windows. When my mom and I would drive into the nice neighborhoods she would tell me how one day I would live in a house nicer than those. She never told me we were poor, instead she said she made the choice not to buy something. So I saw no difference between me and the rich kids. In fact, I even hung out with the rich kids.

The difference between kids being rich or poor is the standard the parent sets for the kids. If parents expect the kids to be rich, to act rich, and to make money then they will. Parents need to give their kids permission to make money, and kids need to see parents not resenting them for making money.

If you want your kids to make money, don’t establish “blocks” in them. In the book Your Money Your Life, the authors talk about learning to let yourself. You find the reasons why you reach for the credit card, or why you feel no matter how much you make it’s not enough. However, once you figure out what is blocking your thinking, money will flow better regardless your income.

My mom was poor, but my dad lived in a rich neighborhood. He had a homeowner’s association and a big fancy house. The catch was that he was relying on credit cards to make it look like he was making money. He still had the poor mindset even though he lived a rich life.

If we want to solve the mindset of poverty in America, then schools need to give permission to the poor to make money. They need to encourage the mindset of making money, and give hope to the child that they can. And it’s pretty clear that forced curriculum is not encouraging this spirited shift in the poor. In fact, because US schools are segregated by housing costs, school reinforces that a poor student belongs with the poor.

If you want your kids to grow up to make money and be successful, then treat them like they will. It does not matter whether they come from a rich family or a poor family. Success in America is based on your mindset, not your social status.

10 replies
  1. Jim Grey
    Jim Grey says:

    Is this like the class rules that Ruby Payne writes about? Help kids see the unwritten rules of the class(es) above them so they can operate there? I think that would be a very useful thing for schools to show kids.

  2. YesMyKidsAreSocialized
    YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

    There is way more going on than just making money in the lives of rich kids that form their mindset. There are considerably less rules and very little restrictions imposed on these kids and a large level of trust is placed on them. There are higher expectations, implied or not, to be something, to take advantage of all the opportunities afforded to them. Couple that with the access that comes to having wealthy parents. “You want an internship with a popular show on HBO? Let me make a phone call and see what we can do.”

    I agree that learning about financial responsibility is important. That’s why my kids have an allowance as well as multiple opportunities to earn money with various chores etc. I also am willing to put money behind (a loan) any business ideas they may have. I have had many conversations with my oldest regarding her ideas. Told her many times that when she can pitch an idea to me, we can go from there. But, there isn’t an expectation for it…yet! :)

  3. Erin
    Erin says:

    When Phoebe asks for something–an experience or an object–and I say “no” I hate the follow up question.

    “Why?”

    I don’t want to admit, “We can’t afford it.”

    I worry that she’ll grow up resenting our lifestyle.

    • Amy
      Amy says:

      What about a “Yes if…” that incentivizes her somehow. When my daughter was five, she would go up our block and take orders for fresh picked pints of blueberries, then we would go to the farm and pick them, then she would pack the pints and deliver. Of course it was only seasonal, and not big bucks. But she was FIVE. Earning $20 was a big deal and a big lesson back then.
      Of course I don’t know how old your daughter is, and what opportunities are available where you live. But perhaps it’s worth thinking about in a different way than just a straight out ‘no.’
      (That being said, if she resents your lifestyle, that may propel her to reach further. Nothing tragic about saying no. As a parent of adult children, I reflect back and wish I had said it more often.)

    • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
      YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

      We all have to say no to our kids for a variety of reasons. Alyssa is close in age to Phoebe. She has Childhood Apraxia of Speech, and I constantly have to say no to her requests. Because of past experiences, I know it is not in her best interest for her to do certain things until her oral motor planning improves. Yeah, it sucks having to explain the “why” behind it. But, I try to let her know that a no right now, isn’t a no forever and we will see what can happen in the future.

    • The Study of Humans
      The Study of Humans says:

      One of the most valuable lessons I learned from the corporate world, that I also apply to my personal life, is never say no.

      Clients dislike no just as much as children do. Almost every “no” can be turned into a yes with thoughtful wording. “yes, we could do something along those lines” or “down the road we could consider that”.

      Of course, if they push, a no might bubble up. Then it becomes an opportunity to practice making lemonade out of lemons.

      Who better to teach them that then someone who will accept and validate their feelings while encouraging growth the way us Moms will. Ok… Daniel Tiger might be better at but he’s not always available.

      -Sue

  4. Anna
    Anna says:

    Actually, it is not because you can’t afford it, most likely. It is because you value other things and make choices that mean resources go to other things. For example, someone might not have x amount of dollars because they actually have y amount of open time. Or they do a certain job that earns a certain amount of money which means they will be participating in the market in a certain way. “Can’t afford it” means–according to what? Maybe the reverse is even true. Someone could have a lot of available funds but can’t “afford” the spoiling of the kids, so they don’t buy certain things. It’s all a language and a math problem really, it seems to me.

  5. Martin
    Martin says:

    My children will be middle class. There going to be hard workers like their parents. As they get older we can teach them how to understand the world a lot more easier.

  6. Steve
    Steve says:

    It is a tired and inaccurate stereotype that unschoolers are privileged, elitist, or don’t care about the wellbeing of children in the larger society. Most unschoolers are people who have given up income in order to devote time to their kids; many are living in modest circumstances at best, seeking out free museum days, apprenticeships, public libraries, interning at theaters to get free tickets, and in every way demonstrating how a very good education can be gotten at very low cost. Many are actively involved in their communities through volunteer service and political engagement, and of course, they all pay their taxes like everybody else to support the public schools whose facilities they usually can’t use.

    Meanwhile unschoolers are creating a large body of experience and information about children and learning that can be of benefit to the public schools and to all children. To find out whether interest-based, curiosity-driven, developmentally flexible learning can work, somebody has to try it and find out. Unschoolers are doing that, and the news, by the way, is good. Public educators could look at unschoolers’ experience to discover, for example, that reading problems might be better prevented by delaying the requirement for reading rather than by accelerating it, as the current Common Core standards do. (Spoiler alert: the Common Core standard requiring reading in kindergarten is going to be a catastrophe for millions of children, and rates of dyslexia diagnosis are going to go up.)

    It is absurd to ask people to “direct their intelligence, experience, and attention to public schools” when the power structure of public schooling gives families virtually no power or voice in education. We’ve created a system that will drug a child before it will give her more exercise, and that essentially gives parents a choice of complying with its protocols or leaving the school. You can’t ask parents to stand by and allow the destruction of their children in order to prove that they are public-spirited. Instead these parents are quietly demonstrating that another way is possible. That benefits everybody.

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