Elton John is turning out to be a model father. And no, it’s not because he’s warning kids everywhere not to lip-sync on their concert tours.
In an interview with the Daily Mirror last week, the singer, who has sold more than 300 million records over the past 50 years, says he’s not planning on leaving his fortune to his two children, Zachary and Elijah.
“Of course I want to leave my boys in a very sound financial state. But it’s terrible to give kids a silver spoon. It ruins their life.” John, who is 69, says that, like Warren Buffett, he plans to leave his children enough money to buy a house and a car, to have their basic needs covered.
Elton John and his partner, David Furnish, told the Mirror they won’t be giving the kids “crazy, silly, go-wild money so that they could be buying Picassos or private jets . . . Anything beyond the basic, they have to go out and earn it themselves.”
This isn’t the Elton John of a decade or two ago, who was living an extraordinarily extravagant lifestyle. In court proceedings in 2000, it came out that he went through almost $55 million in less than two years, including over $400,000 on flowers alone. When asked about his spending spree, he said, “I have no one to leave the money to. I’m a single man. I like spending my money.”
That’s changed. John has a 5-year-old and a 3-year-old, and now says his major expenditures are pizza delivery from down the street. His lesson, however, is not just for rich parents.
He recalls: “I came from a very working-class family and was born in a council estate house. I earned everything I did from hard work, and that’s the way [my kids have] got to do it as well.”
John says his sons “have to do chores in the house — take their plates to be cleaned, help in the kitchen, tidy their rooms and help in the garden, and each time they do they get a little star to put on these charts they’ve made.”
According to a study commissioned by Whirlpool in 2014, more than four out of five American adults regularly did chores as children, including cleaning, cooking, laundry and dishes. But less than a third have their kids do chores.
In the national survey of more than 1,000 parents, 43 percent said their children complain when asked to do chores, 37 percent said they try to get out of them and 13 percent said they have to pay their kids to get them to help around the house.
“Chores have a lot of short-term and long-term developmental benefits in terms of academic and social success,” Richard Rende, a developmental psychologist and researcher from Brown University, told the Chicago Tribune.
So why have so many middle- and upper-class parents given up on chores for their kids? For one thing, more and more of us can afford to hire someone to mow the lawn or clean the house. So we assume that it’s better to do that than give our kids chores.
For another thing, we’ve loaded up our kids’ schedules with AP courses and absurd numbers of extracurricular activities. But this only serves to reinforce our children’s view that their families are there to serve them and that the world revolves around them.
To the extent that parents can push back against the narcissism that seems to be built into childhood now, our children will be better off. The insight that chores are important is surpassed only by what David Furnish says makes kids more confident: “The greatest joys, everything Elton and I have created, have come from hard work, and that’s where your self-esteem comes from.”
So much of our education system and parenting culture has been built around the idea that what our children need is protection — from hard work, from failure, from criticism. But self-esteem doesn’t come from empty compliments or inflated grades.
“We used to think we could hand children self-esteem on a platter,” Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck told the Washington Post. “That has backfired.”
It turns out that kids who are told that they’re great don’t actually believe it. In fact, the ones who hear that they’re so smart and so great actually are less likely to take risks and work hard.
Elton John says he knows that his kids aren’t going to have a normal childhood by any stretch. But the advantages they have may not be the ones you’d think.
?Naomi Schaefer Riley is a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum.