Keep Their Life Normal

We’ve talked before about how children born into privilege or power or a well-known family can easily become spoiled. Marcus Aurelius was an exception to this rule… but sadly, his own son, Commodus was not. But that all feels very distant. 

What about someone like Jimmy Kimmel, who for many, many years toiled away at the lower runs of show business before finally launching into the stratosphere later in his career? His interesting trajectory and family provide an interesting experiment in how to raise good kids. He raised two kids in his 20s before he had much money and now has two kids—a 3-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter—who will grow up with a lot of money. 

He was recently asked how to keep them normal and unspoiled:

Raising kids with money is a tricky thing. You don’t want to just hand them everything. I don’t know the best way to go about it. I’ve concluded that pretending you don’t have money is not the best way, because kids aren’t stupid. I can’t say what my parents said, which is “We can’t afford the $60 to send you on a band trip.” That won’t fly. The most money I ever made when my first two kids were little was $75,000 or something. I try to discuss this with people who have kids that are a little bit older than mine, and it’s always the small advice that’s the best advice: Make sure they do chores and get a reasonable allowance. You know, there’s that urban legend about the kids who have a private jet and the first time they fly commercial they ask their father, “Why are all these people on our plane?” I don’t ever want anything like that to happen.

It really doesn’t matter whether you make $75,000 or $7,500,000. Your job is to raise good kids, kids with perspective, gratitude, and a healthy attitude towards money. We have to keep a Spartan attitude towards money, as Antoninus Pius did. But we also have to be reasonable and honest. We should be teaching them about working hard, about being persistent and self-reliant, about earning their keep, not being handed it

If we can do that, thirty years from now, when they make a fortune of their own, they’ll know how to handle it.

P.S. This was originally sent on July 3, 2020. Sign up today for the Daily Dad’s email and get our popular 11 page eBook, “20 Things Great Dads Do Everyday.”

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