I was recently asked to discuss an article that addressed the issue of parents going into extreme debt trying to provide for their children.
If families are going into debt to deal with medical issues, special schools for their children with disabilities, or providing an appropriate home and nutrition for their children, then I can get on board with that. Otherwise, stop the insanity.
Here are things parents are needlessly going into debt over:
All of my kids play sports and have music lessons. I love the benefits that come with these activities. If a family has the finances, and it is a priority, then by all means – enjoy all the rep hockey and competitive dance your heart desires. You will get no judgment from me.
Is it worth putting the family in debt over? Absolutely not. You know what else is character building and good for kids? Playing outside with the neighbourhood kids, building forts in the forest, and having paper routes. Parents who cannot afford to drop thousands of dollars a year on sports or activities should not feel one ounce of guilt. Your kids are going to be just fine.
Going on holidays is nice, but it’s nothing worth going into debt over. Kids have just as much fun on a camping trip or pitching a tent in the backyard as they do touring with the family through Europe. The first time I ever went on an airplane was as a young adult when I paid for myself to go on a trip. I don’t feel the least bit deprived by my parents. Again, if you have the money and want to throw it at a big holiday, all the power to you. If you don’t have that kind of disposable income, don’t bother going into debt over it.
Competitive Birthday Partying is not, and never will be, an Olympic Sport – so you might as well give up trying. Some parents spend thousands of dollars (yes, thousands) on children’s birthday parties. Ironically, some of the best birthday parties I’ve hosted involved swimming in the backyard pool, a treasure hunt and fine dining on hot dogs. If you’ve got the money and are out to try to impress parents, by all means, spend your hard earned money as you will. But, if you don’t have the money (or desire) to drop coin on ridiculous over the top parties, I think your kids will survive to adulthood without needing too much therapy.
So what do you say?