What stuff and leeway will you give your kids?

I have three kids and parents will understand when I say that along the joys of raising kids come with the many decisions we have to make as parents that may define how they turn out as adults. In this post, I would like to share some tough decisions I have to make. Hope it rings a bell.

Today, Mr Credit Card from www.askmrcreditcard.com is going to take over and write a post about decisions you will inevitably face when you have kids. Hope you enjoy it. And if you are looking for a new credit card, please check out his best credit cards section.


Will you buy a WII or a Nintendo DS For Your Kids

Computer games! That is one of the things every kid is an expert these days. Once my kids are in first grade, they would have been exposed to the world of WII, Playstation, Nintendo DS! When they discover that friends have these games, they keep bugging us to buy them stuff. This initially caused us quite a bit of stress because we did not want them to be glued to their games. But at the same time, we realized that they live in a different era than us and it is important that they know the games that other kids are playing as well.

So we actually bought our kids a WII game. In fact, we were actually innovators in that we were one of the first one to have them. When we first got the WII, they would be so excited over it and in fact got addicted to it for a while. We has to put in a rule where they could only play over the weekends and they actually to earn it through good behavior. This kind of took care of the problem of them wanting to play with it all the time once they understood the rules.

We also got our kids each a Nintendo DSI. The purpose of it was to keep them occupied whenever we drove long distance to the beach or if we were having dinner with other adults and wanted them to be occupied in a restaurant. This has actually worked out well.

Will you make them learn a musical instrument?

We have this view that our kids should at least be exposed to learning a musical instrument (to be a little well rounded). So the three of them have weekly piano lessons. But my eldest son really hated it (even though the teacher said he was talented) and eventually we had to stop sending him to lessons because he just refused to play. Our second and third kid are still taking piano lessons.

I’m really quite torn about this one. It is great that they are exposed to learning a musical instrument. But it cost money and the kids do not expect to be learning this forever. We make them practice every day. But at most, they practice 15 minutes a day. So given their interest and how little they practice a day, they will never be great pianist! So what should I do? My two youngest kid are still OK about going to piano lessons. But are we just wasting our money? Your thoughts?

How serious will you push them in sports?

My kids play soccer and baseball. And they actually love the game. In fact, whenever I ask them to play with me in the evening, they always agree and we have a great time. Very often, they play themselves and enjoy it too. So here is the six million dollar question? How much and how hard should I push them in sports? Many parents do because they feel that it is a ticket to a sports scholarship. But at the same time, I would rather have my kids make the move by being motivated and doing extra training themselves before I push them further. I also feel that sometimes, we as parents push too much on kids in sports because we want them to live our dreams.

When will you buy them a cell phone?

Our eldest son will be in middle school this coming school year. Back where we are, parents (it seems) start giving their kids a cell phone when they start middle school. I suspect part of it is that they want to be able to reach their kids. But I also think that parents give their kids a phone because other kids also have a cell phone. My eldest kid keeps asking me if he could have an iPhone!! Urghh…the peer pressure. At the stage (time to think over it during summer time), we are inclined to get him a cell phone, but probably a cheap basic one.

Would co-sign a credit card for them?

It used to be that a college student could simply just get a student credit card. But with the passing of the CARD Act, they now need a co-signer if they do not have any income. This is actually a good thing since it stops students from racking up credit card debt out of sheer ignorance. But it also makes me think harder about how to teach my kids about money so that when they are old enough to get a credit card or when they move out, they are well equipped to handle all the money problems that are being thrown at them. One of the things that come to my mind is should I get them a prepaid credit card and start teaching them about using a card responsibly and instilling the sense that you only spend what you have?

Will you save up for their college education?

Big decision here. It cost a lot to send your kid to college. At this stage, we won’t be able fully fund their college education. We will be saving up for them. But at the same time, the question lingers : How much to save for them versus how much to set aside for our own retirement. We do not want to leave our kids saddled with lots of debt even before they make a dime. And yet, we have to think about ourselves as well. This situation is still playing out in our minds and I guess we can only provide a true update years later!

So what’s your story with the kids?

To end it all, I would like to invite everyone who has kids to share their experience here.

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