How Kindergarchy is Damaging Your Family and Your Finances

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Joseph Epstine makes the case that in America we’re living in a kindergarcy – a culture where we’re under the rule of children.

Epstine writes:

Children have gone from background to foreground figures in domestic life, with more and more attention centered on them, their upbringing, their small accomplishments, their right relationship with parents and grandparents. For the past 30 years at least, we have been lavishing vast expense and anxiety on our children in ways that are unprecedented in American and in perhaps any other national life.

We’ve probably all witnessed and even participated in this phenomenon.

I have three kids – ages 8, 6, and 4 at home.  Sometimes it does seem as though our schedule is held hostage by the kids’ calendar.  It’s lead to a hectic and busy schedule.  However, in our home, we’ve decided that the most important relationship is my relationship to my wife.  When that relationship is healthy, then our relationship with our kids is healthy.  If we decided to make our kids the most important relationship, then the result could be ignoring our own.

I’ve witnessed kindergarcy amongst my peers.

The kids don’t get something they wanted to get and the parents will walk from east to west looking for whatever the kid wants to satisfy their request.  It almost seems as though the worst thing a parent could do is say, “No.”

But saying no responsibly is a tremendous blessing to our kids and to our homes.

Kindergarcy can be so destructive to our finances.

I’ve witnessed parents making financial commitments far beyond their financial resources.  Perhaps it comes from a place of love.  It is natural to want to give the best to our kids.  But it’s unhealthy when we’ll compromise the financial health of our home in order to make one of our kids happy.

Always getting what we want is spiritually dangerous.  I think it short changes an important maturing process.

Personally, I don’t want my kids to get everything they want.  I think they’ll grow up more mature as a result of hearing the word no.  The best way for me to model this is by making sure that I’m saying no to some of my wants and desires.  I need to learn to practice moderation.  Once I’ve lived sacrificially, it can be better modeled to my kids.

How do you ensure that you’re not living in a home ruled by your children?  How do you lovingly say no?




  1. kelly says

    This is excellent. Your kids can be the center of your universe without being the ruler of it.

    (Typo in your headline!)

  2. says

    The wikionary definition makes it all the more interesting!
    Kindergarcy – The state or phenomenon of children dominating, particularly in the context of children’s needs, wishes, and preferences being accorded equal or greater status than those of adults.
    Its not all wrong, yet I believe there should be clear boundaries on the requests we can say yes to from our kids. And plus, a number of NO’s will paint a fairer picture of life for our kids, in all honesty, life can throw a tonne of rejections…well adjusted and matured kids will handle that far much better.

  3. says

    This is a good post Craig, and although you limit your thoughts to the concept of “saying ‘No!’” it runs a lot deeper and wider than financial gifts. The bible basically teaches that we should have Obedience as a child, and Respect as an adult towards our parents. I think that the demarkation of the two in the Western culture is lacking, a lot to do with [deliberate] Media/cultural indoctrination thus causing confusion in our minds. I believe that one of the things I did right in my parenting was to set arbitrary landmarks ahead of time for them, so that (for example) birthday celebrations went from food to gifts to experiences at certain ages, certain freedoms were given at other ages, dating & relationship opportunities were set years beforehand, and (horror of horrors) ages were set for their expected moving out of the nest (sons and daughters were different BTW). I noted that establishing this framework helped my children mature and take responsibility for their own lives and took pressure off the temptation for babying – on me and on them. At times it felt strange, running counter-culture but it fitted within scriptural guidelines and reinforced the biblical parental role, notably that of the father. My advice to parents is to invert the perceived problem entirely like this rather than simply toning down, or moderating the temptation to over-indulge. It’s a subtle but crucial difference that involves reverse psychology – a technique that Jesus used constantly – setting out the facts, controlling the paradigm in which interaction occured and then letting people respond as they interacted with the Holy Spirit. In a practical sense, when a child knows that age X a birthday willl change form sugar food to gifts, and at age XX gifts will change to experiences, the pressue to manipulate for personal gain dissolves. Likewise if they know that they can commence dating/relationships at age Y, get engaged with parental input/approval/blessing at age YY but marry without parental involvement at all at age YYY, the ungodly pressure to seek more, earlier, evaporates and they actually exercise greater maturity. Sorry to hijack your post and extend it beyond financial matters alone, but I hope htis helps people to think deeper about the issue you raised. I hadn’t heard the phrase before, but it’s an important one.

  4. Arno says

    Thanks for the post! As a dad of 2 daugthers I am trying so hard not to make the mistakes with my children that my dad made with us that I am overcompensating by spending most of my free time I have with them. Your post was a reminder for me that my wife must always come first before the children! A house cannot stand without its foundation!

  5. says

    Love the post and couldn’t agree more!

    I think this is why a number couples have chosen not to have children. When we see a society that is run by children, the idea of having children becomes more scary. Sure, there’s the responsibility of raising balanced members of society but there is so much peer pressure (both for children and parents) to keep up with everyone else. Alas, we’ve run ourselves into the ground.

    How do I deal with not having a home ruled by my children? Well, God felt that our marriage would be better without children – so we don’t have that to contend with in our lives. However, I do have (quite) younger twin brothers and a lot of babies in my family. There is always pressure to give them everything they want for Christmas or their birthdays. When it comes to this, my family knows that I purchase what the child(ren) need and let everyone else deal with the ton of toys. Unless, of course, I want to buy my brothers a very noisy item to drive my parents crazy. ;)

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