Are The Current Generation Spoilt?

by John Pratt (other articles by John Pratt)

After spending the morning running around for my 23 year old son today, getting together stuff that he needed for his trip to New Zealand tomorrow, that he had 3 months to prepare for, I ask myself "have I spoilt my children?"

The obvious answer is "yes", but the real question is: How did this happen and what can I do about it?

In most cases the “Baby Boomers” went without various luxury items when they grew up, so now they tend to over compensate with their own children, by spoiling them with all the material things that they themselves missed out on, and trying to guide and control their lives.

During a recent phone conversation with a potential client, she told me a story about her teenage daughter who one day, out of the blue said to her, “I know you love me and only want the best for me and that you just want to share your wisdom from your own experiences in growing up, BUT, I need to learn through my own mistakes in life and walk my own path. So please Mum stop telling me what is best for me and let me live my own life.” This rattled me because my own son told me a similar story when he was 18 years old which made me realise that we do tend to try and control our children’s lives too much.

So where do we draw the line? In my case I keep moving the line because I cannot stop myself from interfering in my kids lives for what I believe to be the right reasons.

Should I have started when they were young by restricting perceived luxury gifts to Birthdays and Christmas? Hard but possible.

Should I have made them work harder for their pocket money? Probably.

Should I have taught them the real value of hard earned money? Definitely.

Would I have done it differently if I had the chance to do over? Maybe.

Am I proud of my children for what they have achieved in life so far? Sure am. 

The fact is, they are our kids and we love them and we'll do almost anything to make them happy and to see them smile.

I've been in Real Estate for around 15 years now. I was selling houses during the boom period of 2001-2006 and sold many properties to First Home Buyers at a time when interest rates were reasonable and Banks were lending up to 110% along with Government Incentives of, in some cases, over $20,000.  Even though it wasn't easy for the newcomers when property values were increasing faster than wages, still many managed to buy their first home and are now reaping the rewards.

Today interest rates are at a record low but property values are at a record high with greatly reduced Government incentives for the first home buyers.

As a consequence, a large majority of first home buyers find it too hard and too expensive, so simply stay at home with Mum and/or Dad in the family home, which usually has 2 bathrooms and 2 living areas - very comfortable indeed.

I don't know if this is our fault for shielding and protecting our children from the cold hard real world, or if we're just having trouble letting go. But what I do know is that at some point in time, we're going to want to enjoy our 'Golden Years'.

Yes it is tough for the first home buyers in the current market, but it is not going to get any better.  So how can we help our children to leave the nest?

I know my parents helped me to buy my first family home by lending us some of the house deposit money.  That's one way, but there are others.  Such as:

- Assist them with a Loan/Gift for their home deposit.

- Speak to your Bank or even better, a reputable Finance Broker, about going Guarantor for your kids, you might be surprised how easy it actually can be.

- Tell them to buy a smaller Home or Unit that may need some renovations and only has one bathroom, I know that will be tough for them but trust me they will cope, we did.

- They can buy a better home and rent it out for a few years until they can afford to live and pay the mortgage themselves. (They must forego the Government First Home Buyers Grant to do this)

- Join forces with another person or couple and buy a larger property that they can all share for a few years and build the equity.

- Buy in regional or outer suburban areas where prices are lower.

These are just a few ideas that might help to gently push our much loved, but spoilt, kids out of the 'family nest'.

So, we gave them much more than just our love when they were growing up, and as a result they still live at home well into their 20’s, but there's still hope.We may have to spoil them once again and show them how we can help them to buy their first home.

If you're reading this and are about to start a family or even have young children, then don't forget the lessons learned early will stand them in good stead for early adulthood.And if your kids are grown up and in their 20’s, don’t give up hope, as there are ways that you can nicely assist them to leave the ‘family nest’.

Good luck everyone.


06th March, 2015

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