It’s easy to think that money is the solution to most of the problems of parenting. After all, we remember our own childhood and the things that money could have provided us. If only we could have had Invisalign instead of those awkward braces…If only we could have lived in a better neighborhood…If only Mom and Dad didn’t have to be so stressed…If only we could have afforded coaches or tutors, we could have gone pro or gotten into Harvard.
It’s true, money does make some things better. It’s certainly better to have it than not have it (Seneca was right when he called wealth a “preferred indifferent,” not good or bad, but nice to have). But it’s a mistake to think that money will magically create a magical childhood for your kids. It’s not true that money will guarantee them a good life or prevent them from feeling pain or loss. It’s not true, as we have written, that money is even high on their list of needs.
What kids actually want is you. What kids actually need is Dad. As Dear Abby quite brilliantly put it in a column back in the 1950s, “If you want your children to turn out well, spend twice as much time with them, and half as much money.” You can’t pay someone to be there for your kids. You can’t pay someone to do the job only you can do. Sure, money can make things easier, but it is no substitute for quality time (or garbage time). It will never be as important as what you can provide by being hands on, by being a good example, by showing them you care for them and value them.
And the proof of this is how many people—including you and your own childhood—were able to turn out just fine without much money.