Author Topic: Will my kids be okay if I retire early?  (Read 3425 times)

RootofGood

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Will my kids be okay if I retire early?
« on: March 14, 2014, 09:06:47 AM »
That's a rhetorical question.  I think my kids will be just fine in spite of my early retirement.  They might even gain advantage from my early retirement! 

However, it's a common concern I have seen among FIRE seekers with kids.  I wanted to share my take on the issue (presented in full in my latest blog post).

I think the fear of retiring early with kids comes from a few misconceptions:

-Early retirees are lazy.
-Kids must see you go to work everyday.  Thatís what adults do.
-Kids wonít be good with money if they never see their parents work for money
-Other kids might think your kids are suffering because you donít have a job
-Kids will worry about family money issues
-Kids will suffer from an entitlement mentality

I don't personally think any of those criticisms are true.  From watching other early retirees raise their own kids over the last 10 years, they seem to turn out pretty well.  The parents tend to be very mindful of finances and transfer that wisdom to their kids (it's a lifestyle, after all). 

RootofGood

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Re: Will my kids be okay if I retire early?
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2014, 09:23:15 AM »
My best friend is a SAHM. The kids see her labor and it's concrete and real to them in a way their father's just isn't at their age. That is, btw, part of why kids play dolls, not "nuclear physicist." They know how cooking benefits them, while their parent's job designing reactors is less tangible to them at their age.

Growing up in a home with a dad that designed nuclear plants, I know what you mean!  It was just piles of blueprints and long printed charts (from the dot matrix printer!) and didn't mean anything to me at the time.  It was just an abstract concept - dad went to work early in the morning, then came home in the evenings, took his tie off, and we ate dinner.  The things I learned from him were camping, hiking, fixing stuff in the house, hacking on computers, etc. 

RootofGood

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Re: Will my kids be okay if I retire early?
« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2014, 09:42:49 AM »
When my friend was working as a lawyer, her daughter said that when mummy went to work she, "Climbed trees and ate cake." But then, how do you explain doc review to a 4 year old?

Document review will certainly lead one to climb trees.  I'm not sure about the cake-eating part.  Pics from office parties? 

Nords

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Re: Will my kids be okay if I retire early?
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2014, 10:32:36 AM »
One of the long-time posters at Early-Retirement.org was named "Jarhead".  (Yeah, he was a Marine.)  Back in the early 2000s he seemed to be in his mid-70s, and we haven't heard from him in years, but he was quite the character. 

He reached financial independence in the early 1980s-- a full decade before "Your Money Or Your Life" and even before "Cashing In On The American Dream".  He had these same worries about how his ER would affect his teen daughter. 

For the next few years after he escaped the office job, he arose every morning to "go to work".  He'd show up at the breakfast table in coat & tie (like always) and leave the house before the school bus.  His daughter would see exactly the same morning routine that she'd always seen, and then she'd go to school.  Jarhead would hang out in a local coffee shop for an hour or two, return home to change clothes, and then head out to the golf course.  (He was a scratch golfer, and he enjoyed a small side-hustle income from overconfident golfers & local tournaments.)  He kept up this subterfuge until his daughter graduated high school and moved away for college.

Years later he mentioned his deception to his daughter, and she laughed.  She said that she'd been so busy being a teen that she never even noticed what he was doing-- and if she ever noticed, she wouldn't have cared.  All she wanted to know is that he had the spending money (and the car) to be there for her, yet to stay invisible and not embarrass her in front of her friends.

I ER'd when our daughter was nine years old.  I've been "chronically unemployed" for over half of her life.  She could've spent her entire day at home with me, but she said that she'd rather be at school (complaining happily with her friends) than to be subjected to "Dad's Homeschool".  I was up & about when she was getting ready for school in the mornings, and I was at home (usually working on something) when she got home in the afternoons.  I was smart enough not to drive by her bus stop in the mornings with my longboard strapped to the roof rack, and I didn't do dawn patrol when she was living at home unless she was on school break (and coming with me).  She could tell that there was no laziness around our house because she was all too familiar with the dreaded "To Do" list, and she saw us doing plenty of our own home maintenance & repair or finances or working on the rental property.  She helped me write the book (the chapter checklists were her idea) and she saw what it takes to find a publisher and run a blog.

I'm sure there were many months during her teen years where she desperately wished that we parents could be "normal grownups", distracted by our own careers and too busy/tired in the evenings to be involved in her life, so that we wouldn't focus so much time & attention on her.

"Entitlement"?!?  She watched the Cosby Show reruns, and she knew how life worked.  She knew where the income was coming from and she knew that her allowance was just enough to teach her how to manage money.  She knew that she had to save it or earn her own money if she wanted her own stuff, and she got her work permit the minute she turned 14.  She knew she could've had free admission to USNA but she chose to get her own NROTC scholarship to Rice University.  She knew there was a college fund but she also knew that there would be profit-sharing of whatever was not spent on college.  Now she's counting down the days (64!) to her ensign's commission.

We've told her that we hope she finds an avocation that she loves, and that we never really found one for ourselves.  (Well, I guess I have now.)  We've told her that she should work as long as she's having fun, but that she should save for financial independence in case the fun stops.  She's had a few bumps along the way as she's learned how to handle her own college finances, but these days she's at least as frugal as her parents.  She "gets" the concept of ER in a way that 95% of her friends don't understand-- because their own parents were always working.  And dealing with debt.  And drowning in consumerism.  And not saving for retirement.

Whether you're working an 80-hour week or ER'd, kids just want to know that there's food on the table and that you'll be able to spend time with them.  Not necessarily in that order.

When my friend was working as a lawyer, her daughter said that when mummy went to work she, "Climbed trees and ate cake." But then, how do you explain doc review to a 4 year old?
By the time our daughter was old enough for "Take your daughter to work day", I was working in the engineering department of a submarine training command.  Part of that job was a firefighting trainer, and another part of it was the "damage control" trainer (flooding recovery & repairs).  So we instructors would bring our kids to the firefighting trainer, dress them in some of the gear, and light off the flames.  Then we'd put them in the damage control trainer and start up the leaks.  The teens would get some of the training that we gave to the submariners so that they could work on their own leaks.  It was just like running your own Disneyland, only with flames & spray. 

So she told her teachers that I set submarines on fire and put the fires out with flooding.  Parent-teacher conferences were always unpredictable experiences.

Yet somehow, despite all of that experience, she still wanted to join the military.  Go figure.

Today, courtesy of NROTC, she's been through several FF & DC trainers.  She's done dozens of drills on submarines & destroyers.  She knows exactly how to handle a grease fire on a college stove or a toaster oven melt-down.

My best friend is a SAHM. The kids see her labor and it's concrete and real to them in a way their father's just isn't at their age. That is, btw, part of why kids play dolls, not "nuclear physicist." They know how cooking benefits them, while their parent's job designing reactors is less tangible to them at their age.
Growing up in a home with a dad that designed nuclear plants, I know what you mean!  It was just piles of blueprints and long printed charts (from the dot matrix printer!) and didn't mean anything to me at the time.  It was just an abstract concept - dad went to work early in the morning, then came home in the evenings, took his tie off, and we ate dinner.  The things I learned from him were camping, hiking, fixing stuff in the house, hacking on computers, etc.
Man, you barely escaped the pull of the Dark Side.  My Dad (electrical engineer) used to sell nuclear plants for Westinghouse, and he was always bringing home cool books and models and samples from the office.  (I even still have the USS NAUTILUS tie clip that he got from a Westinghouse military contract.)  It's one of the ways that I suckered myself straight into the submarine force...

soccerluvof4

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Re: Will my kids be okay if I retire early?
« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2014, 11:45:44 AM »
I have 4 kids and we have no problems with this with Me being in ER. In fact its the opposite. They say I am glad dad accomplished what he did so we can.............." I make sure Like Nord said I am always busy and talk about my trading etc... so they realize I am still always working towards the best interest of the family. During the summer its a bit trickier but I give them a couple hours of schoolwork and spend that time in the office then they have chores and then they can do what they want.  They don't look at me as lazy at all but like I mentioned are happy they have a Dad that's around and involved in there lives.  If anything comes up they are reminded in a hurry what I did to get here.

RootofGood

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Re: Will my kids be okay if I retire early?
« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2014, 12:41:51 PM »
One of the long-time posters at Early-Retirement.org was named "Jarhead".  (Yeah, he was a Marine.)  Back in the early 2000s he seemed to be in his mid-70s, and we haven't heard from him in years, but he was quite the character. 

I remember him well.  Nobody ever found out what happened to him? 

That firefighter and damage control training sounds pretty awesome.  The best I could do was show them my penthouse suite office and the awesome view ("see those trees way over there in the distance next to that building?  That's our neighborhood").  I did manage to bring them out to the construction site a time or two, and one of them even had the chance to use the potty in the middle of the freeway (before the concrete was poured).  They refused the comfort of the port-a-John, opting instead for a more natural stance.  After a little off-roading in my honda civic and some heavy dump truck dodging, we drove on the whole unopened road (10-15 miles).  In the wrong direction.  They won't be able to do that again until they are in their teen years! 

Quote from: nords
My best friend is a SAHM. The kids see her labor and it's concrete and real to them in a way their father's just isn't at their age. That is, btw, part of why kids play dolls, not "nuclear physicist." They know how cooking benefits them, while their parent's job designing reactors is less tangible to them at their age.
Growing up in a home with a dad that designed nuclear plants, I know what you mean!  It was just piles of blueprints and long printed charts (from the dot matrix printer!) and didn't mean anything to me at the time.  It was just an abstract concept - dad went to work early in the morning, then came home in the evenings, took his tie off, and we ate dinner.  The things I learned from him were camping, hiking, fixing stuff in the house, hacking on computers, etc.
Man, you barely escaped the pull of the Dark Side.  My Dad (electrical engineer) used to sell nuclear plants for Westinghouse, and he was always bringing home cool books and models and samples from the office.  (I even still have the USS NAUTILUS tie clip that he got from a Westinghouse military contract.)  It's one of the ways that I suckered myself straight into the submarine force...

The closest I got to working on a nuclear power plant was a tiny cogen power plant we were converting from coal to a hybrid wood chips/tire scraps/coal combo.  Fairly modest 60 MW facility.  On second thought, nothing like a nuclear plant at all.

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Re: Will my kids be okay if I retire early?
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2014, 01:45:08 PM »
Man one of my favorite things from my navy training was the DC training we did in ROTC. 

Nords

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Re: Will my kids be okay if I retire early?
« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2014, 03:07:02 PM »
Man one of my favorite things from my navy training was the DC training we did in ROTC.
Whenever I was having a rough day at work, I could always take comfort in knowing that I was authorized & certified by the federal government to try to set a student on fire... or try to drown them... and get paid for it.

soccerluvof4

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Re: Will my kids be okay if I retire early?
« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2014, 05:39:58 AM »
Man one of my favorite things from my navy training was the DC training we did in ROTC.
Whenever I was having a rough day at work, I could always take comfort in knowing that I was authorized & certified by the federal government to try to set a student on fire... or try to drown them... and get paid for it.

I love that story , made me laugh out loud! haha. I remember back when I was in the Navy on the Kitty Hawk and had to go to fire fighting school outside of San Francisco (I beleive it was called fire island?) was my absolute favorite training.