This post is inspired by an article I read many years ago. I think it was in Readers Digest, but I am not sure. I am trying to remember as much of it as I can.
This is not a psychological thesis, so please do not treat it as such. Children go through 5 phases as they grow up to become adults. Let’s begin.
“My mommy knows everything” stage
I am sure all parents will remember this stage with some nostalgia. The children who fall into this stage are those from the time they are born to about 6/7 years of age.
What ever Mommy says is followed and accepted without question. Brush your teeth, go to sleep at 8.30 pm, do not play in the rain, etc. There may be some resistance, but it is negligible and usually, Mommy gets what she wants. In the event of any trouble, the kids can always be easily bribed.
Mommy could also be depended upon to resolve any issue. How to heal a sick cat and or even to take on the 6’ 7”, 300 pounds ex-boxer father of Harry, who had said or done something nasty etc.
All arguments between kids would have the mandatory, “My Mommy said so!”.
“My Mommy knows most things” stage
The kids are a little older now. Maybe between 8 to about 12/13 years. Other influences have now come into their lives. The older, “cooler” kids in school, their internet chat companions, etc. Mommy’s influence is still formidable, but now there are avenues to seek “second opinions”.
This is the time when the kids shy away a bit from being kissed by their mommies in school.
Being called Mommy’s boy or girl in school would be an unmitigated disaster.
“My Mommy does not have a clue” stage
This is the stage most dreaded and feared by parents….the teens to late teens stage. The children are now aged maybe between 12/13 to about 20 years or so.
They have their own minds, their own sources of information like the internet and their peer groups in school are now entrenched. Not quite adults and not quite children, they are sandwiched. There is a feeling of wanting to rebel and try out adult things, but are somewhat restrained by ties such as monetary support, place to stay, etc.
Boys go through the girls stage and girls go through the boys stage.
Money is expected from parents and not much thought is given to the hardships the parents may have to go through to earn it. Conversations with Mommy would be monosyllabic whilst phone bills on their conversations with friends would be astronomical.
This stage is very crucial and may define some make or break situations like running away from home, eloping with their “loved ones”, etc.
Generally a stressful period for Mommy as well as the children.
“Maybe I should ask my Mommy” stage
Here some stability is setting in. Also some acceptance of the real facts of life. Facts like we need money to survive, and that we have to work to get money and getting money by some “easier” means may result in punishment from Authorities etc.
This would be the stage straddling college, graduation, first jobs and maybe serious relationships with the opposite sex and marriage. The children would now be in the early to perhaps mid /late 20’s.
There may still be some anger over some perceived “ill or grossly unfair treatment” during the earlier stage of their lives, i.e. the “Mommy had no clue stage”.
Slowly they see two sides of the situation and some understanding of their Mommy’s way of thinking dawns.
“I wish my Mommy was here, she’ll know what to do” stage
Most probably our children now have children of their own. The antics of their kids make them nostalgic of their own past and there is a lot more appreciation for Mommy.
The child has now completed the circle and become an adult.
How does this help us in giving our kids financial education?
It appears to me that the best time to start teaching our children on pf or life would be during the 1st two stages, i.e. “Mommy knows best and Mommy knows most things” stages.
During these stages, the kid’s minds will be most receptive. The lessons learnt, even if discarded during the next “Mommy not having a clue” stage, will remain in their minds. Ready to be awakened during the “maybe I should ask my Mommy” stage.
Unfortunately these 1st two stages coincide with the time when the parents are inexperienced, may have to work extra hours to cope with the extra expenses of the kids and “quality” time with the kids are not as much as it should be.
This is perhaps, where we, as parents lose out.
We then try to catch up during the “Mommy does not have a clue” phase, and the stage is set for countless arguments, slamming of doors and sulks.
And all Mommy can do is to wonder, what have I done.
Naturally, they’ll be exceptions to the rules above. From hyperactive children to those who read “War and Peace” when they are only 4 years old.
This post is just meant to show a different slant to the issue of parenting and the teaching of good family and life values to our children.
And I do think it makes sense.