Leaving Kids at Home

11th Aug 2016

Leaving Kids at Home

If you ask most parents what their main stresses or concerns are where daily home life is concerned, they are likely to answer one of 485 ways. But let’s keep it to the top three:
Money, money, and whose turn it is to take the bins out. (Always mine.)

Financial stress is a so tied up with parenthood you might as well file for bankruptcy the second you see that thin blue line appear on the pregnancy test.
You’re gonna be poor for a looooong time, baby.

And it would seem that worrying about money problems is not restricted to us parents. Like a talent for drawing, eye colour and the dreaded family nose, financial strife appears to run through the generations.

According to a new report by the Scottish Widows-founded think-tank, The Centre For The Modern Family – for which I am a panel member, so it must be awesome – in their survey of almost 2500 adults, and a large groups of 16-18 year olds, they found that 50% of the next generation of parents are delaying starting a family due to money worries.

Where we were focused mainly on furthering our career, working out how to hold a mobile phone without breaking both arms and worrying whether our hair was the size of a small house back when we were in our 20s, our children are worrying about whether they will have enough to money to feed theirs – assuming they stop chasing Pokemon for long enough to reproduce.

Financial security is now a top priority for would-be parents according to the new research, above marriage and career progression.

And all this money worry is as unsurprising as it is sad.
So many of our children are going to start their adults lives not only skint, barely able to pay rent and with no chance on ANY horizon of ever being able to put down a deposit on a house, but also in considerable amounts of debt.

Even if they somehow manage to clear their debts – presumably by selling some organs and robbing a casino – the next generation of parents say they want to go further, and aim to accrue a nest-egg of almost £5,500 before having a first child. More than a fifth said they hope to save more than £10,000 to fund their new family.

This all sounds great. Responsible, ambitious, and admirable. Unfortunately, reality comes crashing in at this point and throws something of a gigantic spanner into the family works, because almost two thirds of those asked said they haven’t saved anything at all, and even amongst those who have, average savings amount to under £1,600.

Can someone grab me a box of tissues please?!

Further huge contrast between expectation, hope and reality, comes when childcare is concerned.
Shared parental leave was designed to help balance out the current gender imbalance of childcare. To enable more women to work, and more men to look after their children.

Nearly half of the eager and hopeful next generation of parents said they plan to take up shared parental leave. Do this thing. Be equal! But ask those of us who are parents already, and….so far only 1% of us have actually done so.
It sounds very good in theory, but the realities of life have this nasty habit of getting in the way, and, as Robbie Burns wrote way back in 1785, the best-laid plans of mice and men and skint young couples who want to start a family gang aft really badly a-glay.

(I always feel the need to put in a line on the subject of returning to work to say that, actually, like it or not biology decrees that women are the ones who give birth and feed the children, and many of us actually want to stay at home for a year or two and look after our children. It’s not unfair on us, if it’s what we would actually like to do. Just saying.)

So what are we to do? Weep into our overdrafts? Mock our naïve, foolish debt-ridden children and wait for them to wake up and smell the bacon they can’t afford to buy?

Watch as they sit there, desperately trying to save up enough to buy their first baby-gro?

Well, no.

But basic financial advice starts in early childhood. Things like saving pocket money, not spending beyond their means, and doing little jobs to earn extra cash, are all really important lessons to teach children, from as young as three or so.

It might not seem like much at the time, but it all goes in.
Similarly, leading by example by choosing cheaper options where possible, not going on that expensive holiday when the car needs fixing and so on, are all way to teach our children about sensible use of money.

The fact is that they are going into a much tougher financial world than many of us grew up in. And it’s down to us, where we can, to advise them, support them, and help them when they really need it.

By Liz Graser

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