THE USE OF MONEY.
The money question in the management and training of children has a distinct bearing on the subjects of some of the preceding chapters. It is extremely important, first, in respect to opportunities which are afforded in connection with the use of money for cultivating and developing the qualities of sound judgment and of practical wisdom; and then, in the second place, the true course to be pursued with them in respect to money forms a special point to be considered in its bearing upon the subject of the proper mode of dealing with their wishes and requests.
Evil Results of a very Common Method.
If a parent wishes to eradicate from the mind of his boy all feelings of delicacy and manly pride, to train him to the habit of obtaining what he wants by importunity or servility, and to prevent his having any means of acquiring any practical knowledge of the right use of money, any principles of economy, or any of that forethought and thrift so essential to sure prosperity in future life, the best way to accomplish these ends would seem to be to have no system in supplying him with money in his boyish days, but to give it to him only when he asks for it, and in quantities determined only by the frequency and importunity of his calls.
Of course under such a system the boy has no inducement to take care of his money, to form any plans of expenditure, to make any calculations, to practise self-denial to-day for the sake of a greater good to-morrow. The source of supply from which he draws money, fitful and uncertain as it may be in what it yields to him, he considers unlimited; and as the amount which he can draw from it does not depend at all upon his frugality, his foresight, or upon any incipient financial skill that he may exercise, but solely upon his adroitness in coaxing, or his persistence in importunity, it is the group of bad qualities, and not the good, which such management tends to foster. The effect of such a system is, in other words, not to encourage the development and growth of those qualities on which thrift and forehandedness in the management of his affairs in future life, and, in consequence, his success and prosperity, depend; but, on the contrary, to cherish the growth of all the mean and ignoble propensities of human nature by accustoming him, so far as relates to this subject, to gain his ends by the arts of a sycophant, or by rude pertinacity.
Not that this system always produces these results. It may be, and perhaps generally is, greatly modified by other influences acting upon the mind of the child at the same time, as well as by the natural tendencies of the boy’s character, and by the character and general influence upon him of his father and mother in other respects. It can not be denied, however, that the above is the tendency of a system which makes a boy’s income of spending-money a matter of mere chance, on which no calculations can be founded, except so far as he can increase it by adroit manoeuvring or by asking for it directly, with more or less of urgency or persistence, as the case may require; that is to say, by precisely those means which are the most ignoble and most generally despised by honorably-minded men as means for the attainment of any human end.