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It’s not fair

As Karen and I launch our kids out into the world, the question of keeping things even for them financially comes up. You may be like us: You want to be fair, but it doesn’t seem right to always do the same exact thing for each one of your kids. My friends Mark and Kathryn are working through th…
By Seth Barnes

As Karen and I launch our kids out into the world, the question of keeping things even for them financially comes up. You may be like us: You want to be fair, but it doesn’t seem right to always do the same exact thing for each one of your kids.

My friends Mark and Kathryn are working through the issue. I asked Mark to put his thoughts into a guest post.

It’s NOT Fair
 
1. Development
While the kids are growing up under our care, we should do what we can to help them become who God wants them to become. For Kathryn and me, this means transitioning the girls roughly until they are married and/or in their own homes, with kids if they have them, etc. For Reid, it means helping him at least until he gets a job, and then we will see.
 
They will have different financial needs to realize their paths. Erin has a talent that sends her out-of-state; that’s more expensive than Alyssa, whose general academic interests let her stay in-state. Reid played select soccer longer than his sisters did. Erin’s theatre path was cheaper than soccer, and Alyssa’s academic focus has been cheapest of all so far. But Alyssa may get more schooling — maybe a doctorate, who knows?
 
Erin needed braces and allergy shots, Reid needs asthma medicine. It’s different for each kid based on what God gave them, and we should not try to keep our spending on them even.

 

2. Needs as Adults:
As long as we are alive, we will try to help our kids when they need us. If one of our adult kids faces major medical bills in their family, we will do all that we can to help them. If someone loses a job, we will jump in and help.
 
This is true of our time as well as money, and it will be different for each kid. One needs more prayer, one more money, the third a place to live. Again, it’s all different for each kid based on what God gives them, and we will not try to keep our spending on their needs even.
 
It IS Fair
 
3. Blessings As Adults:
When we go beyond “needs” with our kids, and we are blessing them somehow, we want to be as even as possible. Blessings are things like helping them financially with a house purchase, helping pay for one kids’ huge wedding even though the others decide to elope, helping with our kids’ kids’ schooling, supporting one of our kids’ kids’ mission trips, or helping with an airplane ticket or gas money when they come visit. We want to be sure we are blessing each one to the extent we can, and doing so roughly equally.  

 

4. Death:
In our will, we will try to be approximately even. I say approximately because some of the stuff we leave will be property, and we’ll want to give those things to the kids based on what they like. But we will value it first and even it up.

 

I guess the first two have to do with our responsibilities as parents and therefore are not elective on our part. The second two are more legacy issues, things we “get” to do, and they are elective.
 
We should take care of the first two without regard for evenness. But it’s good to even things up in the second two categories as much as possible.  

 
I would caution folks that this is not hard and fast. We all need to pray about things along the way — for example, with #3, as we give away money it reduces our ability to do # 1 and #2, so we need God’s wisdom on when and what to do. Also, we have to pray about what expenses really belong in #2 vs #3. Some kids will be more conservative than others and will make choices that cause them to have fewer “needs.”

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