Dave Ramsey: Shut Up On Parenting Advice

Dave Ramsey offers horrible advice on parenting that is flat wrong…

Dave Ramsey was asked, “What’s your opinion on rewarding kids with money for getting good grades in school?”

His response, “Honestly, I don’t have a strong opinion about it one way or the other.” He should have stopped here, but he doesn’t. He continues to offer the worst, unfounded parenting advice.

Dave Ramsey — he looks good but he should stop offering unfounded parenting advice.

He continues,

“I can’t really think of a strong argument not to pay them for success in school. You could say you shouldn’t pay them because it’s something they’re expected to do anyway, and that’s somewhat valid. But you could also make the same point where chores around the house are concerned, too.
We paid our kids to do some chores, but really the point is not about the economic value. It’s the fact that you want your kids to associate work with money. Work creates money, and that’s an important thing to teach your kids. Once they’ve created some money by working, then you want to use those moments to teach them to save, spend and give wisely.
You can do this around the subject of grades if you want. There’s probably a valid case to be made that getting an A takes a lot more work than getting a C. You’re certainly not obligated to pay them for work or grades, but if you don’t do some of this — and teach them the proper ways to handle the money they earn — you’ll miss out on a lot a fantastic teachable moments.”

What is he saying????? He is dangerously using his authority on money to encourage horrible parenting advice.

There are several pieces of language in his quote that are red flags of an idiotic, uninformed argument.

First, any parenting article that starts with words like “I can’t really think of a strong argument not…” should be viewed a warning sign. This is nonsensical, unmethodical, biased information.

Second, parenting articles that put forward an argument based on language like this, “There’s probably a valid case…” are stupid.

Third, parenting articles that use scare tactics to prove their point are tricking your brain into believing it must follow this advice and are not using a valid reason to get you onboard. Dave writes, “if you don’t do some of this — and teach them the proper ways to handle the money they earn — you’ll miss out on a lot a fantastic teachable moments.” Using the words “if you don’t do… this” is a scare tactic. Salespeople use it all the time. It tricks the human brain into a feeling of scarcity (see Robert Cialdini’s work) and makes the human brain act to not lose out on whatever comes after “if you don’t do… this”. In this case, Dave Ramsey is using this scare tactic to conceal a frivolous case and it’s dangerous.

Why is this dangerous advice?

In addition to the argument being completely stupid, the advice Dave gives goes against scientific studies on raising successful humans.

If a parent offers rewards (or the reverse, strong punishments) to their child with the goal of modifying behavior (i.e. getting good grades), the child will grow to only modify that behavior when that reward or punishment is available. (See Robert Cialdini’s analysis of the Freedman’s scientific study on rewards and punishments of elementary aged boys re a cool robot.)

So if you are paying your child for good grades or offering another type of external reward, later in life when your child is in college, he or she will continue to want good grades only if you pay your child for these grades. Then what happens in grad school? Are you still paying your child for good grades?

What happens, god forbid, if you die? And you can’t pay your child for good grades.

What happens if your child does not want the money? And says, “well, I don’t care about the money so I guess I won’t get good grades.”

NO. As parents we need to modify our children’s internal behavior so they have the skills for life and make good decisions even when we are not around. We need to teach our children that good grades lead to life success. Share stories of good grades leading to good colleges leading to life success. Talk about successful people. Talk about the value of hard work.

Should you teach your child about finances? YES. Figure out a way that your child can earn money properly, not in chores that are part of communal living and practical life (so much research now about how children who do chores are so much more successful in life and chores that are UNPAID), but jobs that you need. Do you want your cabinet sorted? Can your child help a neighbor with lawn work? A primary school child can even get a weekly allowance tied to nothing but all candy and toys have to come from that allowance…Give money instead of toys for a birthday or Christmas. Lots of good ways to teach your child about finance, but paying to modify behavior — bribing your child — does not work.

Please, Dave, you’re better than this. Stop offering unfounded parenting advice. This has dangerous consequences.

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