Let’s say you had fifty billion in the bank. You have a son and you plan to leave everything to him.
What’s the reason not to give him everything he wants?
Of course, I don’t mean that you buy him a company and let him fire or humiliate the employees. Let’s say that you don’t allow him to do anything hurtful, or illegal. And you can’t buy him twenty space stations because you can’t actually afford to do so and maintain your lifestyle. And of course, you can’t buy him clouds, or bring back the dead. But if your six year old wants to buy a Range Rover or two because he likes to blow the horn, why not just get them for him (and let him use them under supervision)?
Here are some possible reasons that I’ve heard when I’ve asked this question:
1. You don’t want to teach him that he can have everything in life. You want to set limits.
My Response: Why? You’re actually setting his expectations correctly by buying it for him. Telling him he can’t have it just because he can’t have everything in life isn’t teaching him a lesson he can use when he’s grown up. You’re already teaching him that he can’t have a unicorn, or things you can’t afford. So he knows he can’t have everything.
But when he’s got that money, he WILL be able to buy practically anything with a price tag. So the lesson about not having everything isn’t valid.
2. You want him to understand the value of a dollar. Shouldn’t be wastefull and get stuff you don’t need.
My Response: Why? Why does that matter? What service are you doing him? He’ll never need to know the value of a dollar, except to make sure he doesn’t run out of them (which is practically impossible). You can definitely have a conversation about not spending more than you can afford, but you can do that while buying him everything in the mall.
We all do that. I buy a toy for my kid on her birthday. She doesn’t NEED it. A lot of kids rarely get toys, birthday or no. My buying it for her might mean that she won’t know exactly how it feels to be without, but why should she? Hell, she doesn’t NEED dinner every night either.
But though I buy her the toy, I can still explain how her situation is different from other kids. She shouldn’t abuse them for not having as much as she does. Etc.
3. You don’t want to raise someone who’s so out of touch in the world that he can’t make friends with regular people.
My Response: Maybe. But I had friends who had a lot more than I did. New fancy cars when they turned 16. Then new cars again when they wrecked the first ones. And I had more than some kids. I had a hand-me-down chevy that I paid nothing for. Other kids had no car at all, of course. And I’m not even talking about really poor kids.
We all got along. Or at least, some people didn’t, but I don’t think they would have anyway. Some rich kids are not nice, but I don’t think that being rich has made them not nice. They would have been jerks if they were poor, too.
I’m sure there are other reasons out there, but I bet they’re all questionable. To be clear: I would set limits. But I think that I’d have to admit that it’s because of some emotion I have, rather than a practical concern for the child or society in general.
Can anyone come up with something more concrete?