Kids Getting Entitled? Try Reversing Roles

It would be normal for some families to wonder, “Are my kids getting entitled?” Parents naturally want the best for kids, but it can be a tough balance to provide for them while guarding against them taking things for granted.

As reported on a blog by Bhaj Townsend, a Seattle, WA advisor who serves families interested in leaving a legacy, when asked about what impact their money would have on the lives of their heirs, a study found:
65% of respondents said there would be too much focus on material things; 55% said their heirs would not understand the value of money;
52% said their heirs would spend beyond their means and; 50% said that their heirs’ initiative would be ruined by money.

It looks like money does carry emotional baggage with it.

How do parents teach children about money when it can be a source of contention within your own homes or even worse, you hardly talk about it because you and your partners’ views on money are so different?

In one family, the parents decided, and the kids agreed, to use their next allowance to take the parents out to dinner and a movie. In the role reversal evening, the parents then proceeded to make choices like their kids usually did – as if there were no limits.

Here is the story, as told by Townsend :

“The parents were frustrated with their children’s casual view of money. They decided to reverse roles with their children for one night. One evening, the parents told their two children that the next allowance was going to be treated differently. Rather than give an allowance outright for whatever the kids wanted to use it for, this time the allowance was going to be used to treat the family to a night out with dinner and a movie.

“Cool”, the kids thought, until they were reminded their chore money was being used for this.

As their parents explained, this was going to be a “see how the other half lives” experience. “Cool”, the kids again thought as they felt a generous splurge washing over them as they decided where to eat and what movie to see. Cool, right?!

At dinner the children ordered their usual meals. Their parents, instead of ordering their usual fare, decided to order like their children did when the meal was paid for by the parents. In addition to the entrée, the parents each ordered appetizers and dessert. Once they got to the theater, the parents said they wanted more food and ordered large popcorn, large drinks and extra candy, just like their kids would.

Like their children, the parents did not eat everything. They left most of their entrée on the plate while eating all the dessert. They spilled the drinks at the theater. They tossed some of the candy and popcorn out too…just like their kids. Cool, right?!

Their children were shocked that their parents left food on their plates, food they ordered but didn’t want to eat. The kids couldn’t believe their parents wanted more to eat at the theater. When they saw how much had been spent that evening, the kids were blown away at the total they, the kids had to spend.

This turned out to be a life lesson for the kids on the value of money to them. It changed their perspective and behaviors with money. Sometimes all it takes is a new perspective. Cool, right?!”

Children want guidance on how to deal with their own money. Give them experiences with built in lessons for them. Below are more resources on kids and money.

For teaching kids 3 and up about money, check out
For kids 8 – 14, look at Money Confident Kids at:
For teens:
For young adults, check out the hilarious 90-page book, COIN: The Irreverent Yet Practical Guide to Money Management for Recent College Graduates, by Judy McNary, CFP –

Holly Donaldson

Holly Donaldson, CFP® runs an hourly and fee-for-service financial planning practice virtually from her Tampa Bay, Florida office. She also works with clients throughout the U.S. (except Texas) interested in retirement and tax planning advice without product sales or investment management. Holly is the author of The Mindful Money Mentality: How to Find Balance in Your Financial Future (Porchview Publishing, 2013) and publisher of the award-winning monthly e-letter, "The View From the Porch."

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