Too Rich to be a Good Dad…


Doesn’t that statement sound absolutely ludicrous? For the majority of us striving to be good mothers and fathers, more money could solve many of our problems!

In his book David and Goliath, Malcom Gladwell** looks deeper and explores the concept of wealth and its impact on parenting. In the 2nd chapter of this book Gladwell walks through his interactions with one of the most powerful men in Hollywood. A man who came from a lower-middle class family to now own a house that could contain his childhood home in one room.

The Hollywood man states that it’s much harder to raise children in wealth than most people imagine. “People are challenged and ruined by economic hardships, but they can also be ruined by wealth because they lose any sense of ambition or pride.”

He never states that it will be hard from a material standpoint for his children. (Let’s all cry for the children of millionaires right!) He was stressing the fact that it will be harder for him to raise successful children with a healthy perspective of the world they live in because if his wealth.

Gladwell goes on to address that it is hard to be a good parent when you have too little money. You end up working too much and trade off providing “things” for your children instead of providing Y-O-U. But at some point on the wealth spectrum, money makes it more difficult to raise children properly. Want to know what the magic number is? It may surprise you that it’s not higher. Research on happiness indicates that the key number is $75,000 a household per year!

Later in the chapter Gladwell continues by stating that this adjustment to raising children in wealth is most difficult for “immigrants to wealth.” These are first generation millionaires that did not grow up in the wealth they created and have difficulty saying “no” to their children when the phrase they heard growing up, “we can’t afford it,” is not an option.

Psychologist James Grubman informs Gladwell that the phrase “No, we won’t” is much harder for a parent then “No, we can’t.” Grubman actually walks parents through the conversations they need to have with their children and how they need to explain that “Yes, we can get that, but we’re not going to…and here’s why…”

If you’re at all like me, you would LOVE to have the problem of saying no to your kids because it doesn’t match up with your values versus you just can’t afford it. From my current perspective, I’d much rather have to explain “no” than not having enough money in the bank!

But the research indicates is that being a good parent involves much more than providing for our children’s wants, desires, and even needs.

I want to be a good dad. Some days I actually am. And I hope and pray that no matter how much wealth we have, or don’t have, that I can be a good father that will intentionally lead my children to have a proper perspective of money and the world in which they live.



**If you have not read any of Malcom Gladwell’s books, I highly encourage you to do so. He has a unique perspective on life issues and you can greatly learn by looking through his lens.

It should be noted that David and Goliath is not a “Christian” book per se, even though some may think this by the title. It is a book about “Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants.” But through writing this book, Gladwell found his way back to his childhood faith by encountering the forgiveness and power of God through interactions with the Derksen family. Read his story of this encounter HERE.


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2 Thoughts on “Too Rich to be a Good Dad…

  1. Rachel on April 20, 2014 at 10:03 am said:

    I would add that in the case of a family that doesn’t have enough money in the bank and tells the kids “we can’t afford that”… That perhaps these families should use the same approach as someone who can afford it, and take the opportunity to tell their kids why they aren’t buying excess. If a child is raised always hearing “can’t afford it”, then grows up to have a decent salary, they’ll find themselves overbuying needless things simply because they CAN afford it now. We should all adopt the practice of instructing wisdom to our kids through non-consumerism.

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