Ron Lieber’s The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money

I received this book for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

Overview: Mr. Lieber has spent some time researching how to talk to children about money. Mostly, it was so he would know how to explain this situation to his daughter. This is his conclusion.

Story Telling: The ideas behind this book were innocent in themselves. But the way these ideas were put down were problematic for me.

Likes: I agreed with the idea of not tying your child’s to chores done around the house. Some of the parents’ stories were interesting as well.

Dislikes: And now the problems. Some of the ideas, that were discussed in this book, I completely disagree with.

Take the concept of giving. In the book, it is strongly advocated to have you let your children see you give–either directing to those who need it, or to charities. I have a major problem with this. A two part problem, in fact. First, I am a Christian, Jesus states that you don’t even let your left hand know who you’ve given to. It’s to be between you and your Maker. Secondly, if anyone knows you’re giving–especially directly–it cheapens the gift, embarrasses the recipient, and only makes you look good. Is this really what we want our children to learn? It would only become another rung on their social ladder.

In regards to the limits some of the parents were setting for their children, I have but two questions. Do you live under these same laws? Or are you teaching them that there is always someone above the law?

About the allowance issue. Unlike Mr. Lieber’s assertion that the allowance shouldn’t be tied to anything, I disagree. Yes, don’t tie it to the household chores, but it should be tied to the child’s self-control. If the children cannot control themselves, then they cannot control money.

One more thing. Why did so many people, being interviewed, value showing their children how hard someone else has it? Or how hard life could be? What are we telling our children with this? That they should be ashamed of the family’s success? Should they be ashamed of wanting to keep things that they like? Are our items only ours as long as no one else needs them? Aren’t we told that the poor will always be with us? Giving should happened when our hearts move us to give, not because we have more than someone else.

Favorite Character: The best parent I found in this book was Yoni Engelhart. He showed his children, along with the children of his neighborhood, how a bank works. As well, his children learn how to shift the old over, learning the give/get concept of keeping the old stock from overwhelming the storage space.

Favorite Quote: As much as I disagree with this book, finding a good quote was difficult to pull off. But, I persevered and found one. “The labor laws are often less strict when you’re working for your own family as well.”

Favorite Scene: The best anecdote was the one about the girl who wanted to show and jump horses. She proved that she really wanted her dream, and was willing to work for it.

Conclusion: This book over-complicated things. In my opinion, just wrap your children in The Ten Commandments and let God teach them Himself.


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