IntroductionPicture this situation. The father is the main earning member of the family. He is Vice-President in a top IT company. His wife, a teacher in a good CBSE school does everything possible to help their two children learn everything in life. In particular, she makes it particularly relevant that they learn how difficult it is to earn money. Over dinner, the father is made to explain every small detail of the hardships that he faces in his office. Both children use school buses only to go to school.
The children were often made to interact with people who came home to do work for them. The plumbers, electricians, the servant maids and so on. Now, the boy is into the eighth standard and the girl in standard six. Yet, since the children would actively involve themselves in the cleaning of the house, their focussed attention has made the home a very happy one. When the IT professional goes on official tours quite often, his wife chips in with whatever the children need to learn. For instance, the mother has made the son interact with the IIT professors known to her. The key is the exposure children get, as a matter of routine.
The five different approaches to keep the family happy at all times are a) Keep communicating to children every day b) Never give up on cherishable values c) Take care of basics of each family member d) Maintain a monthly budget and tag on expenses and e) Always plan for a decade ahead.
Keep communicating to children everydayIn the aforesaid family that is so well known to this author, whenever the father is in Chennai, the mandatory dinner time of 45 minutes is not only all the jokes and fun but serious communication on every single matter; homework is never discussed. But both parents talk about political events, common sense matters like learning through observation in a shopping mall, the water problem in Chennai and so on. The son already knows what desalination is all about. And how it works in Dubai and in the rest of the UAE. He knows quite a bit about organic farming as his maternal grandfather, is based in a village near a town called Tindivanam, 120 kilometers from Chennai. Both children are taught to be socially responsible and respect any elder, even if they are pretty ordinary service people.
The trick is to engage with children and expose them to several social realities and problems. Children develop far better views of whatever happens around them. Children are not mere cram masters. The happiness comes from the various interests and the various questions for which they seek answers.
Never give up on cherishable values Values should be transferred from generation. Values can make a big difference in our lives. When we respect others, help relatives and neighbors, excuse people for their mistakes, never talk I'll of others, inculcate traditional family and spiritual values in children and so on, the ripple effect in terms of happiness can easily be experienced. We will earn the respect and help of several friends. Since money alone does not contribute to happiness, the emotions and feelings generated in the family will quickly contribute to the positive energy and vibrations in the family. Such things are like magnets. They always attract others to us. They will seek our advice and will positively respond to any of our suggestions. Consequently, happiness is there for the asking.
Take care of the basics of every family memberThis is another important approach. To each, his or her need is the basic principle. In the aforesaid example, the grandfather would stay behind in Chennai for four days. The grandmother was very religious minded. Since the daughter-in-law had similar interests, the week-ends were spent in the huge temples, particularly the Lord Muruga temple at Vadapalani. This kept the total family happy. Though the grandfather did not so much like to spend time in the temple, he would still be in the temple with his wife. However, no one was compelled to do anything. The boy learned Western music and the girl was busy with her Bharatnatyam training. The entire family was one when it came to giving each family member his or her due in yes of interests.
It should also be noted that each family member would have his or her own weakness. While parents positively need to keep a big tag on the social media interests of the children and wean them away from the excessive use of cell phones, it does pay to note that weaknesses of any family member should never be highlighted or criticized in public and only in private. These are days when children are becoming very assertive and sometimes aggressive too. They do not like the advice of elders, pointing out that their lectures are "boring". Care should be taken to ensure that no single family member is hurt in this process. A good deal of communication with the child is often essential to educate them on the need to effectively utilize the wisdom of elders for whatever it is worth.
In this process, any negative emotion being displayed by the children can be easily avoided. There are conflicts centered on dressing, talking too much over the phone with friends and so on. It is up to the parents to intervene in such matters and quickly sort out such conflicts. If left unattended, such conflicts can result in serious emotional problems where those involved will have rather inflexible attitudes and opinions on various issues.
Maintain a monthly budget and tag on expensesWhile the craze for excess money is undesirable, financial security for the family is important too. It is very meaningful to expose any child studying in standard seven and above on what is a cheque, a demand draft, a fixed deposit, recurring deposit and so on. When this happens, the children will be exposed to savings habits from a very young age. The need to maintain a family budget is now far greater than ever before. Even more important is the task of reducing all unwanted expenses and keep a tight leash on all expenses. Unless one maintains an account of money spent on various heads, he or she can never ever dream of finding out if one is within budgeted limits. For instance, it is rather stupid to watch any new movie in the theatres today. In most languages, the movie is shown as a "special movie" some five or six months down the line, on some television channel or the other.
The aforesaid expenditure of Rs 1000, if put into a good fixed deposit with any viable private sector bank giving more than eight percent, for even six years, that would itself come in handy for some expenditure, as the cumulative money is always quite good. It is also mandatory to note that PPF interest is totally tax-free. Whatever little surplus the family has at any point in time should be put into such savings instruments.
Always plan for a decade aheadIn a village near Vellore in Tamil Nadu, a senior citizen had invested in the land some eighteen years ago. He grew vegetables and sold it in the local market. However, he had planted forty teak wood trees in the land and systematically nurtured it over the years. He is 75 today but the wise investment would give him excellent returns and his grandchildren would reap all the benefits. What had happened is that the old man had seen it all coming. Since his close relatives have farmhouses nearby, the safety of the trees was never an issue. His own son is now based in the UAE and helps him to improve his living standards. The other son, who works in a bank takes care of all his needs. The entire joint family, even today is very happy as their resource position is always good. This gentleman had pumped in small amounts like Rs 250 in various recurring deposits are that time, when interest rates on deposits were more than nine percent.
Today, every three months, the proceeds of such ten-year deposits come in very handy to manage all expenses. This should be the strategy. Always have a decade in mind. Investment in the land, even forty-five kilometers from the heart of any metro will stand zoom to high levels some ten years down the line. This is the wisest strategy. Once again, it is essential to always involve every family member at every stage. This is very much essential so that the entire family stays together. Happiness comes from togetherness. It comes from a sense of belonging.
ConclusionFive common-sense approaches, based on common sense have been discussed above. These are very simple and require just a little application of mind. The family can always remain a happy one if we do the basics right in terms of the five approaches.
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A good analysis and good presentation by the author. As a main earning member of the family, the father and as the main caretaker of the family, the mother should always plan the issues correctly and see that their family will be happy and their children will be on the right track.
The points discussed are very apt and if everybody follows that the children will definitely come up well in life with ethics and morals. When the children learn to respect the people irrespective of their financial position, their way of behaving will definitely be the same with all the people. Many well-to-do families think that their children should not talk to financially backward people. That makes the children proud. But if we make them understand the importance of humanity, they will be in good path.
These days, in many children, the concept of saving is not visible. If the parents can teach them the necessity of savings and teach the use of savings they will also get the habit of saving and they will also think as to what expenditure is required and what is not required.