Teach your children the value of money, you’ll thank me later

Kenya is slowly becoming a litigious society where people are developing a liking for filing petty and frivolous cases. This week, the courts threw out such a case which had pitted a 29-year-old man, Allan Njau Waiyaki, against his father. Six years ago, Allan sued his father demanding that he pays Sh2.8 million for his Masters’ degree.

This is despite the fact that Allan owns a successful petroleum business, which his father may have helped him set up. This judgement provoked all manner of debate, with many people feeling that this is a case of an entitled son who has no business making any demands on his father. From where I sit, I do not think it is fair to blame the young man fully - the parents have a huge role to play in how things have turned out.

Let us start with the simple fact that most African parents grew up in what they like to refer to as “abject poverty”. 

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While the definition of poverty varies from family to family, many parents of today grew up in a world where times were hard, resources were scarce, and luxuries were absent.

The gods have since favoured these parents and now they have access to incomes that allow them to provide their families with the finer things in life.

These parents are so determined to eradicate any ghosts of poverty that they go overboard when it comes to providing for their children. We know parents who give their kindergarten children 500 dollars as pocket money on school trips, or those who buy the latest gadgets for their Class One tots.

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Measly Sh2.6 million

By the time these children are in high school or in university, they are flying business class, imbibing only single malts and having limitless credit cards.

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These children operate in a world where the words No, Wait, Or I cannot afford it do not exist.

I suspect that Allan had that kind of upbringing and therefore cannot fathom why his father should choose this time to say no. According to the media article, he considers his father to be a man of means who should have no qualms about paying a measly Sh2.6 million.

Modern-day parents like to embrace the Western style of parenting and that is why they shed the Draconian parenting of yesteryears. They however forget to adopt the very Western habit of ruthless clarity about expectations on adulthood - which sometimes involves kicking the child out of the family nest.

Western parents are usually very clear about what they expect from their children once they turn a certain age.

In most of these cultures, once these children turn 18, they are expected to move out of their parents’ houses and fend for themselves. These expectations are communicated to the child as soon as they enter this harsh mean world, meaning that come age 18 they know they are unwelcome in their parents’ homes. 

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If they choose to continue to enjoy their parents’ hospitality, they are expected to contribute to paying some of the bills. Parents this side of the world do not like to have such conversations, so they let their adult children become freeloaders. These children will jet back from their overseas studies and head back to their parents’ house where they will continue to be fed, clothed and pampered for free. These parents will have access to any of the fuel guzzlers parked outside, will entertain their pals on their parents’ club memberships and will have all their chores taken care of by the huge host of domestic staff on standby.

These rich kids cannot fit into the job scene, for most entry level jobs pay poorly - what they stand to earn in a month is what they receive in a week as pocket money. Once they do the Math, these ‘adult-kids’ opt to stay home as the parents feel so smug because they have spared. Modern-day parents like to feel useful so they will even step in to raise any children sired by these stay-at-home children; some even choose spouses, pay dowry and cater for their children’s lavish weddings.

This might be the reason this 29-year-old man sees nothing wrong with demanding that he continues to enjoy the largesse of his father.

Truth be told at 29 he should be not be worrying about a Masters degree - in fact he should be mastering things like diaper changes and nursery rhymes. While some of us are willing to blame Allan’s parents for his sense of entitlement, almost all of us are united in drawing the line when it comes to the issue of suing the parents.

Surely, any student who has completed any undergraduate course ought to know that court cases leave families scarred for life and cause irreparable damage. It is also a bit ridiculous to antagonise a father about a measly Sh2.6 million and then lose out on a possibly much bigger inheritance upon his death. No one would judge Allan’s father harshly for cutting off his son off the will; after all, being sued by your own son is not Kosher.

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Allan needs to cut his losses, pay for his Masters, get his own family and learn a few things about the true value of money.

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