What do Dr. Ben Carson (Famous Neurosurgeon), Andrew Carnegie (US Steel) , Howard Shultz (Starbucks), Oprah Winfrey, George Soros (Currency Trader), Larry Ellison (Oracle CEO), Jim Carrey, Chris Gardner (Pursuit of Happiness), Charlie Chaplin, Ursula Burns (CEO Xerox), JK Rowling (Harry Potter) and many, many others like them have in common? They were all poor and now they’re rich. They are also examples that your impoverished circumstances in life are temporary, made permanent by your habits, behaviors, choices and thinking. These individuals, and millions like them, were able to change their circumstances in life. They are real life examples that being born into poverty does not mean you will forever be stuck in poverty.
We are having the wrong conversation in America about poverty, the wealth gap and income inequality. The conversation we are having asserts that poverty, the wealth gap and income inequality are caused by external factors such as:
- Government policies that favor the rich and punish the poor
- Wealthy people exploiting poor people (99% vs. 1%)
- A sluggish economy
- Wall Street politics that game the system
- Low wages
- Lack of social mobility
- Poverty circumstances you were born into
While the above external factors seem reasonable to the unwary, the reality is external factors have very little to do with poverty in America. The real culprit is something no one wants to acknowledge – parenting. Parents are to blame for poverty, the wealth gap and income inequality. In my five-year study of the habits of the rich and poor (http://richhabits.net/rich-habits-study-background-on-methodology/) one of the most profound discoveries I made was the vast difference in the habits the rich and the poor learned from their parents. Parents who raised children who became rich and successful in life, taught them very specific success habits that they took with them into their adult lives. These unique daily habits provided a foundation for success that enabled their kids to excel and succeed in life. Conversely, those who experienced poverty in their adult lives were unintentionally taught specific Poverty Habits by their parents which created a foundation of poverty that followed them into their adult lives, creating a generational cycle of poverty. My research is clear on this. Parents are responsible for poverty, the wealth gap and income inequality in America. Not Wall Street, not the economy, not the 1%, not government policies, not your life’s circumstances – Parents!
In my book Rich Kids – How to Raise Our Children to be Happy and Successful in Life (http://richhabits.net/rich-habits-books/) I set out to list the hundreds of habits, behaviors, choices and thinking that the rich and the poor learned from their parents. My objective is simple: to end the cycle of generational poverty and enable kids to live the life they were intended to live. Let me share with you some of the habits, behaviors, choices and thinking that parents should be teaching their kids:
- Reading thirty minutes or more every day for self-education.
- Enrolling your kids in positive mentoring groups such as: The Boys or Girls Club, Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, Big Brother or Big Sister.
- Making your kids save 50% or more of any money they receive.
- Checking your kids homework every day makes you an accountability partner with your kids.
- Limiting the consumption of T.V., use, the Internet and video game playtime to one hour or less every day frees up time for self-education reading, mentoring group participation, volunteering and other productive activities.
- Making your kids exercise aerobically for 30 minutes a day improves their health and their cognitive ability. It feeds their brains with oxygen and glucose, both of which are the primary fuel of the brain. Aerobic activity also increases the production of neurons (brain cells).
- Punish your kids for losing their temper or allowing their emotions to dictate their behavior. Kids need to learn accountability for any bad behavior.
- Teach your kids that not every thought needs to come out of their mouth. Saying mean, hurtful things damages relationships. Kids need to learn the importance of constructive words vs. destructive words.
- Parents need to attend every Parent-Teacher meeting. Parents who are engaged in their kids education send a message about the importance of education to their kids.
- Instill in your kids the importance of individual responsibility for their life. Kids need to understand that bad habits, bad behavior and bad choices will result in a bad life.
- Instill in your kids a positive mental outlook. Teach your kids that they can achieve anything they put their minds to. Kids need to believe that life has unlimited opportunity, irrespective of current financial circumstances in the home. You want your kids to be positive, optimistic and enthusiastic about life. Positivity is a hallmark of all successful people. Negativity is a hallmark of all poor people.
- Teach your kids the importance of goal-setting, creating a vision for their life and pursing their dreams. When you lack goals or a vision of what your life could be, you are rudderless. Parents need to help their kids script the life they wish to have. This then becomes a blueprint for their lives.
- Teach your kids that they create their own luck in life. Kids need to understand that all successful people create their own good luck.
- Expose your kids to different activities in order to help them uncover hidden talents and passions. Every six months let them try something new at home, at school or in a mentoring group. Locking your kids into one or two sports limits their capabilities in life. How will your kids discover their talents or their main purpose in life if they are not exposed to numerous activities?
Ascribing poverty, the wealth gap and income inequality to external forces does nothing to help poor people. In fact, it perpetuates poverty by shifting the focus from individual responsibility for your life circumstances, to forces beyond your control. This external forces argument dis-empowers individuals born into poverty. If they buy into this ideology, they and their family members will feel powerless to rise above their poverty. Educating parents is the solution. Parents need to learn which habits will help their children excel in life and which habits will hold them back.