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Monday, January 13, 2014

Goofus and Gallant for rich kids

If grandma ever gave you a gift subscription to Highlights Magazine when you were a youngster in elementary school, you know Goofus and Gallant. This feature has been in Highlights since its inception in 1948 but it originated in 1936, created by Gary Cleveland Myers.

Goofus always did things poorly or sometimes rudely. Gallant always did things better, kinder. There was always a lesson for the young reader, with appropriate images, to do this, not that.

Goofus, with a bratty face, tells mom: "Here, sew this button on."
Gallant, with a smiley, sweet face, one arm on grandma's shoulder asks: "Will you please sew on this button."

Goofus, grabbing newspaper from mom says: "I want to read the funnies now."
Gallant, asking dad politely with a smile: "Are you finished with the funnies?"

So recently, the Wall Street Journal  put out its own version showing how rich parents should talk to their rich little inheritors... and I didn't make these up.


Picture shows rich father patting son on the head at the dinner table with a servant in the background holding a tray of food to be served.

Don't say: "Why are you asking about money? You don't have to worry about any of that."
Do say: We are lucky. My grandfather build a successful company and passed it down. Here's what that money can help us accomplish."

Picture shows rich mom talking to her young daughter in a limo en-route to airport.

Don't say: "The limo drive is so slow, I hope there will be time to hit the duty-free shop before first-class boarding starts."
Do say: "You can learn a lot by seeing the world. Would you like to help decide where to go for our annual vacation?"


Picture shows son asking rich dad--cocktail in hand while sitting in a comfy chair in his smoking jacket--for a few bucks to replace his broken lacrosse stick.

Don't say:  "Here's $3,000. Will that be enough?''
Do say: "Here's $300. That should be enough to replace your broken lacrosse stick and cover your snacks for the month."


Now don't get me wrong. I think these are fine lessons. But I still sense a touch of "lots richer than me" coming through.


Maybe we need alternate lessons for the middle class while there are still a few thousand or so of us still around.


Picture shows kid asking dad, in overalls working on the family car, for $20 to replace his punctured basketball:

Do say: "Sure son. Here's all my loose change. Ask your mom for some change from the jar in the kitchen cabinet and I'll see if I can find another few bucks next week."
Maybe say: "Here's a buck. Go buy a lottery ticket."
Possibly say: "The Harlem Globetrotters have a trick play using a deflated basketball and they are rich. See if you can learn from them."
Don't say: SMACK! "I TOLD YOU NOT TO BREAK YOUR BASKETBALL!
Perhaps say: "You have a birthday coming up. We'll see."
Can't say: Here's a thou, get something good... and those fancy Michael Jordan shoes while you're at it."
Best say: "Here's $20. Go get 'em Tiger!"

So you see, most of these are very good suggestions. What's right for you just depends.

I really don't mean to make fun of the super rich... much. Those who are born with a silver spoon in their collective mouth (disgusting image!) do not have an easy life. Actually, I've worked all my life for people with money (both inherited and earned) and their lives are often not as 'rich' as mine. I'm really glad Bill Gates has all that money... and how he uses it. While he could leave his kids billions, he has vowed to give most of it away, leaving each heir only $10 million. And, no joking, I really think that is cool. Now there's a great kid lesson by example.

While money cannot buy happiness, it also cannot buy poverty. My dad, who died many years ago, told me, a person with $10 million isn't that much happier than one with $9 million." Of course, that was when a million dollars WAS a lot of money.

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