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Opinion

Will you pay for your child's tuition?

According to a recent study, your kid will likely expect you to.

By Kristy Woudstra

Will you pay for your child's tuition?

Photo by Stacey Newman/iStock

At the age of seven, my dad gave my sister and I each a $100 bond. I'm not entirely sure where the bond (the savings plan of the 80s) came from. I think a distant relative had died. But I do remember what my dad said: "Be sure to keep this in savings because we're not paying for your wedding and we're not paying for your university education."

He kept his word. I didn't get a penny from my parents for either. Yes, they weren't the most generous parents on the planet, but they also didn't have much money. My dad worked in a factory for 35 years and my mom cleaned houses part-time. They didn't have much left after paying the bills.

So I started working when I was 12 by cleaning model homes at a housing development. I worked every summer and throughout the school year in both high school and university. I took any job I could get (my only condition was that I wouldn't wear a uniform.)

My parents also had us paying for clothes and everything else right down to our deodorant, so I ended up with $21,000 in school loans. But I graduated and I have one heck of a work ethic as a result.

When I read in a UK study released today that 28% of children aged 6 to 15 expect their parents to pay at least half their tuition and and that less than one in 10 plan to take a job to help fund their higher-education, I was a bit taken aback.

Don't get me wrong, I want to have savings for my daughter to go to school. I don't want her to end up graduating with debilitating debt. But I think she should get part-time jobs in high school and university to help pay for it.

Rory already asks when she can have her own phone (she's 6). I tell her: "When you can pay for it yourself." I'm prepping her that I will encourage her to get a job when she hits her teen years. No, I won't make her pay for hygiene products, but I want her to learn how to handle money and that she has to work for it. I also want her to learn how to save for something really important, like her education.

To me, so much can be learned from having a part-time job: responsibility, respect, time management, social skills. I still remember getting the pay cheques I'd earned and putting them in the bank with a sense of pride and accomplishment. Sure, I couldn't always go to a party or a friend's house because I had to work, but I think that was good for me, too.

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Am I alone in this thinking? Will you encourage your children to get part-time jobs? Or am I robbing my kid of a carefree childhood?

This article was originally published on May 30, 2012

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