Tag Archives: financial problems

The Limits of Parental Indulgence

"Sergio's Finish" by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

“I feel terrible about not being able to buy my kids what their friends have. But I can’t afford to buy them new ipods and shoes right now.”

Your value as a parent lies in what you communicate to your children and the values that you convey, not in what you purchase for them. You are not doing your kids any favors by buying them everything that they want or that their friends have. You are doing them a favor by not doing so and explaining to them why not.

Even when parents can afford things, they are giving more to their kids by NOT teaching them to feel entitled to have everything they want. Learning delayed gratification and planning for the future are valuable gifts that will go a long way in encouraging capability and independence.

Simply say,

“Right now we need to save money for the mortgage, emergencies, retirement, and your college.”

Or

“It’s important to have money put away to ensure that we will survive another potential downturn. Twenty dollars here, a hundred dollars there, add up surprisingly fast.”

It’s all in your attitude that says they’ll be fine without the new merchandise. If you don’t show anxiety about their wanting things or about their being “without,” then they will learn to live more comfortably with desiring things and not having them right away.

You can also suggest to them that they can save up for what they want themselves. If children learn both to wait and to work for what they want, they will end up appreciating the items more, or they will lose interest in acquiring them all together.

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Marrying into Money:
“He used to take care of me, and now he treats me like a child.”

"Lindbergh" by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

It may feel good to be taken care of financially, just as it does to be taken care of emotionally or physically. You may feel as though your worries are over. Often, however, the cost of being taken care of financially can be very high. Being treated like a child is only one example and may be just the beginning.

From Caring to Controlling

Often people who insist on taking care of their partner financially fear losing their partner and use control of the finances as a means of control in the relationship. That fear can lead to oppressive behavior sliding down a slippery slope from being protective… to becoming paternal… to becoming patronizing and demanding.

At the beginning, those who take care of their partner in a paternalistic way may overwhelm him or her with luxurious perks. They may appear strong, generous, and confident. Yet, they often feel insecure in terms of being desirable for who they are rather than what they bring to the relationship in terms of money, for example. An unconscious need to be needed can result in a drive to have power over others.

From Secure to Stifled

When invisible strings are attached to the financial blessings bestowed on a loved one, the behavioral polarities of superior/inferior, control/rebellion, and parent/child tend to take over the relationship.

While being taken care of leaves one feeling secure at first, being parented leaves one feeling like a child, which takes away the mutual love and respect required for success in long-term romantic relationships. When a person in the child position matures, he or she will want to express independence, which can be threatening to the provider. Someone who is dependent on another person but feels stuck, soon feels stifled, resentful, and rebellious against the person in control.

Can financial disparity work in romance?

The fact that two people in love who are in vastly different financial positions does not necessarily result in problems. The key is to retain your own individuality and capability of being independent, even if the financially stronger person pays for most or all of the expenses.

Before moving in with someone who will “take care of you” it is wise to put aside enough money that you could move into your own place at any time, whether that means moving in with a close friend or renting a studio for a month or a year — whatever you are comfortable with. It is also wise to always retain your ability to get a paying job.

Being financially and psychologically able to move out and live on your own terms creates the space to be able to be yourself. If you become dependent on someone else’s money, there is an incentive to hide feelings and thoughts in order to please the person you’re dependent upon.

I’m not recommending that people live together with the constant threat of ending the relationship. Yet, when people are incapable of leaving a relationship, emotionally or financially, that’s when they start compromising their belief systems and values in order to maintain the relationship. That’s when the insidious descent into living in fear of losing what you’ve become accustomed to begins.

Throughout life, we are better off enjoying our blessings in the moment without trying to hold on to them for eternity. We can do this best when we are prepared and willing to take care of our own deepest needs. No matter who makes the money, it’s important to stay informed and involved in your joint finances, as well as to have your own independent means.

By maintaining individuality and the ability to be independent within a relationship, you maintain the wholesome tension of opposites, which allows the relationship to become greater than merely the sum of its parts.

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Read “Five Keys to a Great Relationship: ‘There’s nothing we can do to stay in love.’”

Read “I’m his biggest fan and he treats me like a slave.”

Read “I Can’t Live Without Him/Her” by Guest Author Sam Vaknin, PhD.

“When friends ask me to go out to eat, I’m embarrassed that I can’t afford to right now.”

"One Enchanted Evening" by Mimi Stuart Live the Life you Desire

If you feel embarrassed about your financial difficulties, other people are more likely to feel embarrassed for you as well.

However, there’s nothing to feel awkward about. In this rough economy many people are in a similar situation. Remember, it used to be considered a virtue to have good judgment and to refrain from incurring unnecessary expenses. Now again, it’s becoming embarrassing to flaunt one’s money or to have a lot when others don’t.

See the movie “The Company Men” (or rent it when it comes out) and notice the attitude of Ben Affleck’s wife as she deals with their financial challenges. She employs common sense and a positive attitude, but does not hide behind false pride or shame. Pretense that “everything’s great” when it’s not and shame are what prevent real intimacy between friends.

Adopt a neutral demeanor, and simply say, “I’d love to get together. But right now, I need to be cautious with my finances. Let’s have dinner at my house. Or let’s go for a hike.”

We can have the most enjoyable times together without spending money. It’s the laughter, conversation, and sense of adventure that inspire the greatest moments with our friends.

Look at it as an opportunity to ignite ideas for some special times together that make eating out seem, well, pedestrian!

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Read “I can’t afford to buy my kids what all their friends have.”