Do you remember the old song called, “money can’t buy you love”? I do and I would like to add another sentence to that song and say that, “money can’t buy you happiness either”. Most of us are taught as young children, by our parents, that if we achieve financial success in our lives that we will live happy and comfortable lives. For the most part, I would consider that type of advice, wrong-headed. Some of the most unhappy people I have met in my 47 years on this earth have been people who are financially secure and in no real money crisis. I’m not sure why parents put such a high value on financial success in the US, but they do.
Parents start out at an early age, with their children, talking about financial success and the need to get the best education possible so their future financial needs will be met. Unfortunately, parents talk little about social skills which are necessary to build life long friendships, which will yield greater internal satisfaction than a job with a huge paycheck. What is it about the US population and this internal need to be more successful than your neighbor? Speaking of songs, I remember a good one from the 70’s which talked about a “four car garage and still building on”, as one family tried to keep up with the Jones’s. This is not something new with Americans; it has been going on my entire life. Parents have some kind of inbred desire to make sure their kids are more financially successful than they were.
Don’t get me wrong, a good education and a great job are things everyone should aspire to accomplish. However, these two things are not what is really required to make your child happy, instead this kind of pressure on children to only think in financial terms could be one of the worst things you could teach your kids about this world. Most people in the United States profess to have a belief in God. In the bible, Jesus never talked about financial matters, except to condemn the over eagerness in some people to accumulate great wealth. However, families who are church going Christians seem to forget this very important part of the bible and continue to push their children to accumulate as much wealth as possible during their working lifetime.
I see so many unhappy successful people today and I wonder in the back of my mind if many of these folks just got bad advice from their parents on what it takes to live a happy and successful life in the world today. Money may not be the “root of all evil”, but this never ending quest for it does create a sense of frustration and sometimes depression in children who do not believe they are sufficiently living up to the expectations placed on them by their parents. Many parents place pressure on their children to achieve greater success, than they did, during their working years. I don’t think parents cause these problems intentionally, but society and peer pressure do have a definite impact on what children deem to be important and not important in their lives. When achieving financial success is more important than helping out a neighbor in need, then people need to reevaluate the signals and messages they are sending their children.