ICFE eNEWS #19-27 - September 2019
Doing LESS To Accomplish MORE
By Jim Garnett, a/k/a Ask Mr.G, a member of the ICFE's Board of Educational Advisors
A few years ago, a court case caught national attention because
it made an unusual claim concerning how over-indulging parents
had affected their teenage son negatively. Ethan Couch was
driving intoxicated, going 70 mph in a 40 mph zone, lost control
of his vehicle, and plowed into a group of people, killing four
and injuring nine.
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His high-powered defense attorneys
claimed that the teenager's total lack of remorse was directly
due to "affluenza," a term they borrowed from a 1997 PBS
documentary entitled, "Affluenza:
The All-Consuming Epidemic."
The attorneys claimed
that the teenager's affluent parents had over-indulged him to
the point that his moral values had been deadened. This
explained his lack of repentance and inability to understand the
consequences of his actions.
Believe it or not, the judge
agreed with the defense argument, and although found guilty of
the crimes, the teenager was given 10 years of probation that
required counseling at a posh rehab center.
I did not
agree with the lack of justice, but as a financial counselor and
a Nationally Certified Parent Trainer, I did agree with the
over-lying principle that was emphasized: over-indulgent parents
can negatively influence their children's values for years to
What do you think? Can well-intentioned parents
actually do too much for their children, resulting in attitudes
that can harm them instead of help them? Researchers say a
resounding, "Yes." Children not only tend to adopt their
parents' perspectives, but also the practical application of
those perspectives into real life.
So, how do we as
parents temper our "doing" for our kids so as to not adversely
affect their attitudes, ambitions, and actions? I suggest that
parents do less to accomplish more by incorporating three things
in their giving: Participation, Anticipation, and Appreciation.
1. Incorporate Participation. Occasionally,
allow your children to invest "sweat equity" in the process by
requiring them to pay for or work for a portion of cost.
Children that are simply given things all the time, have
difficulty connecting the dots between the gift and the
sacrifice required to give the gift. Incorporating occasional
participation will give our kids a much clearer understanding of
how the world really works.
Sometimes as a boy, I would ask
my parents for something that they could not afford to give me.
They would respond, "We can contribute this much, and you will
need to earn the rest of the money to pay for it." I then had to
decide whether or not I "really wanted" whatever it was or if it
was just a temporary whim. Looking back, I see that
participating in the process helped me realize there is usually
a sacrifice involved in getting and having things..
2. Incorporate Anticipation. In
today's "buy now and pay later" society, we tend to miss out on
one of life's greatest joys by not experiencing a space of time
between "our wanting something and our getting something." We
miss out on the joy of anticipation.Think of how much different
Christmas would be if parents merely walked down store aisles
and handed their children their Christmas presents. That would
be pretty dull! It is much more exciting when we are required to
wonder, imagine, guess, and wait for our gifts. If you remove
anticipation from Christmas giving, it removes much of the fun!
Remember "back in the old days" when many purchases were done on
the "lay-away" plan? The store held your item (laid it away)
while you made payments on it, and once all the payments were
made, you could take your item home. I would dare say that most
items purchased like this were valued more highly because the
wait increased our anticipation.
The makers of "Tootsie Roll
Pops" utilized the value of anticipation when they required you
to patiently get through the outside hard candy before you
reached the soft, chocolate-flavored tootsie roll center. Then
there was the 1971 commercial where we watched a bottle of Heinz
Ketchup slowly pour out on a plate of hot French fries while
Carly Simon's song "Anticipation" played in the background.
3. Incorporate Appreciation. One
of the results of over-indulging our children can be the lack of
cultivating appreciation, and where appreciation is lacking, an
attitude of entitlement can grow in its place. The arrogance of
"I deserve what I am given" replaces humility, and our kids
begin to see the world revolving around them and their needs and
their happiness. They become takers instead of givers!The
"affluenza" virus still plagues our families! The best
"antidote" I know is a combination of Participation,
Anticipation, and Appreciation incorporated in our giving
process. It all comes under the general heading of "Doing LESS
To Accomplish MORE."
The "affluenza" virus still plagues
our families! The best "antidote" I know is a combination of Participation, Anticipation,
and Appreciation incorporated in
our giving process. It all comes under the general heading of
"Doing LESS To Accomplish MORE."
© Jim Garnett, The Debt Doctor
AskMrG Consulting, LLC
2216 SW 35th Street
Ankeny, IA 50023