A kid will demand you get the puzzles down from the shelf only to change their mind halfway through. They’ll beg to go in the pool, get all ready, jump in once and then move onto the next thing that interests them. They’ll interrupt themselves midstory to tell a different one. They’ll change the channel just as the movie started to get going. They’ll switch from soccer to baseball after three years of training and switch their major halfway through college.
To a parent, this is maddening. You just put all this time and energy in! You just made me put all this time and energy in. Why do you want to throw all that away?
But kids, implicitly, seem to understand the “sunk cost fallacy” better than parents. A rational person knows that what went into something—what you paid for something, the time you put into something—is irrelevant the second after it happens. A responsible adult? We can’t forget all that! It seems insane. And that’s why we continue to work the same job we’ve had for years, while we stick with relationships long after they’ve run their course, even why we still live in the same town we grew up in.
Just as we teach our kids, our kids can teach us. When it comes to sunk costs, our kids show us how to be fearless. They show us how to embrace change and to chase our interests. They know it’s never too late to try something new, they know that ‘the way things have always been done’ is just an excuse, and they know that life is about moving forward.
Let them show you this. Let them loosen you up. Follow their lead.
Don’t get stuck in your ways. Don’t throw good money after bad. Don’t turn quality time into actual garbage time. Try a new thing. Try the next thing. Who knows, your kids might be right, it could be more fun.