I wrote about this show, Til Debt Do Us Part, in another post, here. This particular episode, above, hits all my passions– teaching children to work, not being a mother martyr, doing big family projects together and paying off a mortgage. Unfortunately this couple was going in the wrong direction on their spending, adding all of their consumer debt–cars, expensive camps for their children, and a house remodel–to their mortgage. In this show, they are taught to go the other way–how to pay off their massive debt.
Teaching Children to Work
I don’t know why we think we are providing an easy, happy childhood when we don’t teach and expect our children to do jobs around the house. How will they launch on their own if we don’t teach them how to work and build self-discipline? The thirteen-year-old son in the show above, resisted initially. I love that they showed him hiding. That is what children do. We need to patiently teach them that there is more reward in doing the work. We are helping them learn how to take care of themselves, how to sacrifice for the family and by this sacrifice actually bond with us. If the work is set up to be not too hard, and we show our love and appreciation, our children will grow in self-sufficiency.
I knew how to sew and clean when we got married. My husband could clean better than I could, had many teenage jobs under his belt, and a spectacular amount of grit. I will always be grateful to his parents for that. If we had known money management, DIY home repair, and how to cook, it would have helped us even more! We would have been so much further ahead. When we have to learn things as adults, when we don’t have the mental models, sometimes it takes years to figure stuff out. Teaching our children gives them such a leg up!
Not Being a Mother Martyr
We women do too much–either we are perfectionists and get impatient with our children’s sloppiness, so we do it ourselves, or, we can’t make our children work because we are not good at follow through and they get out of it, every time. Finally, we think we are being good mothers by doing all of the work, to make their lives carefree. In the above show even her husband was getting away with not helping–Sheesh! When we do any of these three bad behaviors we aren’t helping our children (or husbands!) know that family life is a lot of cooperative work. How will they successfully navigate it, if they have never been shown? We are setting them up to be a terrible marriage partner.
Big Family Projects Together
Another thing the host, Gail Vaz-Oxlade, did was to require the family to paint their kitchen cupboards together, instead of paying someone to do it and adding that cost to their mortgage. The children learned they can DIY, the family bonds, and the whole family gets to enjoy the new kitchen together. Family time, learning a new skill, learning how to save money and this feeling that you know how to do things are priceless gifts to give our children.
Paying Off Your Mortgage
By putting their car on their mortgage, or their line of credit from their mortgage, if they took the whole mortgage time to pay, Gail Vaz-Oxlade said they would end up paying $9000.00 extra for their car. Wrong direction. These parents, in their 50’s, were actually working against themselves by never learning money management. They were paying way too much interest because they didn’t understand it. We are giving our children years of successful navigation in a complicated world when we teach them to earn, budget, save, avoid debt, and to pay off their house.
When we finally got the mental model of actually being able to pay off our mortgage, that it was possible, it became a race to pay it off. Once we realized how much interest we were paying we didn’t want to pay any more than we had to. Here is a great example of someone who didn’t earn very much initially, but when she finally realized she could do it, she said, “I paid off more in that 33 months, focused, than in the previously twelve years combined.”
Finally, I love how the family gathered at the end of the show, to show Gail what they had learned. Their teenage daughter had even gotten a job. This family had a different look in their eyes, a determination not to go back to their old bad habits. This is when parenting is worth it to me–I am willing to teach you, and help you, but I won’t do all the work!