Challenger School

Lots of Questions (Fewer Answers)


The honeymoon is definitely over.

I adopted Jayden last Thursday. I knew nothing much would change. He has been living with me for over two years.

Later that day, Jayden got irritated with me because I wouldn’t let him spend the money he received for his adoption. We received probably close to $200. I told him that we would open a bank account and invest the money, maybe in his college future.

Jayden tells me he isn’t going to college. He wants to be a mechanic. Or a dancer. Or a landscaper.

He accused me of stealing his money. This caused me to bristle a bit. Thus my earlier allusion to the adoption honeymoon being over.

I have written elsewhere about teaching kids the value of money. I don’t have the best value of money, so it is somewhat hypocritical to preach this to Jayden. By this I mean I am not the best saver in the world.

I would like to impart a different value to Jayden. This is difficult in the age of YOLO—you only live once (a phrase that gets circulated quite a bit these days among our youth). YOLO might imply that we spend our money freely today because as the old adage goes, you can’t take it with you.

We have this discussion a lot in schools. Should we tell every child that they ought to be working toward college? What if college ends up not being their first choice? What if we build them up to a college-bound future, only for them to discover that they don’t have the financial resources to attend?

All of these are very difficult questions which need to be continually discussed in schools. I know that my parents never expected anything other than college from me. I’m sure they would have loved me anyway had I decided to go a different route. But their high expectation probably went a long way to steering me down the college path.

I am going to do everything I can do point Jayden in this direction. I am going to save money with the anticipation that college will happen. We are going to visit colleges for graduations and events. We are going to actively discuss college. I think the more he experiences a college culture around him, the more likely he will be to plan accordingly.

The biggest question becomes what will I do with the money we’ve saved if Jayden decides not to use it for college? Will I just give it to him and wish him luck? Will he accuse me of stealing his money if I use it to support my own retirement?

Again, no easy answers here. That seems to be the name of the parenting game—lots of questions, many fewer questions.

About author

Dr. Jim Martin

Dr. Jim Martin

Jim Martin is a principal in the Salt Lake City School District and foster dad to two boys. He is graduate of Westminster College, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education. He then went on to get a Masters degree in Teaching and Learning and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy. Jim has taught kindergarten, first, fourth, and fifth grades. This is his tenth year as a public school administrator. In his spare time, Jim loves theatre and has acted in over 30 productions. He is the artistic director of a local theatre company.

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