I always enjoy talking with other parents about raising kids. It is interesting to get their perspective and insight and to also see where we differ. There are lots of opinions on how to raise children, but there is probably no universally correct way to raise a child or guarantee they will turn into well-adjusted, productive adults. As you can imagine, I am always advocating financial literacy in these conversations. Sometimes my advice is received warmly, although it is a bit of surprise to some parents who had not previously considered the importance of money talks. While other times, it is not as appreciated.
Generally, I hear some variation on the “kids should be kids” excuse. I agree that kids should be kids and not be weighed down with grown-up concerns. I also don’t believe teaching kids about money robs them of their childhood. Helping our kids gain money life skills is no different than teaching them their ABCs, 2+2=4 or good manners. All these things are done to help kids learn and grow into capable, successful adults.
Everyone moves so fast these days. We move from one thing to another constantly, which means some things, like life skills, get lost in the mix. Parents pay close to attention to how their kids do at school because they link doing well academically to their children’s eventual success in their profession. Chris and I definitely want and expect the girls to do well at school, but it does not make-up their entire education. I’ve seen many people do well professionally but because their life skills — their ability to communicate, to make good financial decisions, to take care of themselves and so on — are poor, they remain unable to create the life they want for themselves.
We now also face another threat or competition in the form of technology. Technological skills are now being given more priority than life skills at home and school. I definitely appreciate the convenience technology has given me and want Lauren and Taylor to be tech-savvy because not having these skill sets will hold them back in the world we live in today. At the same time, when you look at some of these statistics complied by AVG in the following infographic, it is clear there needs to be a better balance.
There is nothing wrong with children becoming tech savvy at a very young age. These days it is to be expected. However, it saddens me to see how it further pushes life skills down the to-do list, especially when you consider that technology can also expose our kids to more predators. Now, more than ever, they need the life skills to recognize and protect themselves against those kinds of threats. We, as parents, also need to be educated on how to protect our kids and instill these kinds of skills, whether it is recognizing danger or making good decisions with their money, in our children.
Academics and digital skills are important to helping our children succeed now and as adults, but I humbly ask that you also don’t forget about life skills. These skills enhance, complement and round-out your child’s education. Without strong life skills, your child is missing a key ingredient in building the life they want for themselves.
What statistic surprised you the most? How do you balance academics, technology and life skills in your home?