The #1 Cause of Student Loan Debt is Bad Parenting says Dave Ramsey

This was a message that I cheered loudly…in my own house. Dave Ramsey’s topic is student loan debt, but the underlying message is all about leadership. His advice can apply to any aspect of leadership, as a parent or in the workplace.

Loving your children sometimes means helping them avoid stupid decisions. (Tweet That) | Share on Facebook

Loving your children or those who work with you means guiding them well. And that means helping them avoid stupid decisions, even when it sometimes means using veto power or giving them a swift kick in the butt.

Massive student loan debt is one of many things which can be classified as life-altering. I cringe when I hear about people who have $200,000 in debt making $35,000 a year. By definition, that’s dumb. (Not you…the decision…and trust me, I’ve made plenty of them myself)

By all means, give your team and your children freedom to make mistakes. Let them fail. Just don’t let them go through fatal failures.

Love them enough to not let them be stupid.

Question: How can you love those you lead better today? What do you need to “get tough about?” You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • Kirbie Earley

    I have four children – three girls, one boy – all adults now and 3 of them parents of my 5 grandchildren (all 3 and under!!). Three of my kids would say that I am ‘too soft’ with the remaining one. As parents, we never love one child more than another, regardless of what they think :) However, I do have different relationships with each of them. I’m very close to two of them, not as close, but still have a great relationship with the other two. The two I’m close with each have 2 kids (one is a set of twins that are 18 months old!). They ‘demand’ more of my time through babysitting or coming to visit so they can regain sanity, etc.

    One of those daughters that I’m very close with just stays in close contact. I talk to her several times a day, text throughout the day, and I spent probably 50% of my evenings at her house before my surgery a couple of weeks ago. All of the boys, including my son, work 6pm – 6 am or similar shifts, so the girls often need evening help — she asks more than anyone else. I use as my excuse that I get to see the grandkids more, but I often wonder if it’s really why.

    Since my surgery, I haven’t been able to drive over there, so she’s handled things on her own and I’m glad for that. Once I can drive again, I hope not to slide into an “every night that her s/o works’ routine again. I do miss terribly seeing the babies, but we have been using Skype and that’s a next best thing.

    • The important thing is that you spend time with them regularly without it always having to be on your kids’ terms. There is a fine line between enabling and helping and I believe that line is drawn somewhere around a year. If a kid loses a spouse, that is one thing. But, otherwise, there needs to be a time limit to when grandman or grandpa is always available to help.

  • I think it starts my giving your kids opportunities to make decisions with little things. As they get older, you give them more decision making responsibility. As parents, we have to set appropriate boundaries. We have to gradually let the rope out. We just don’t want to give them enough to choke themselves. At some point, we will have to release our kids from our control. They have to be able to make decisions for themselves. If we don’t allow them to “fail” at decision making with the little things, how will they handle “failure” on decision making with the bigger things?

    • Exactly. They will never know how to walk if you keep them tied up.

      Along the way, you still have to draw the line on stupid though :)

    • Steve Pate

      amen to that Jon. In fact that’s how I had to learn.

  • It is so difficult to watch friends or family be poor parents. Because I don’t have children, I am not allowed to offer opinions. Occasionally I can send someone to a website or a radio station, or recommend a book. I make friends with my drawing students and share as much common sense as I can with kids, encouraging them to make good choices. But wow, student loans, the idea that you HAVE to go to an expensive school, the idea that as long as you have a degree it doesn’t matter what it is in. . . ow.

    • You are allowed, but it’s probably in your best interest to just let them live and make mistakes :)

  • Steve Pate

    great timing on this Matt. As of this week I had to make a hard choice to step back and give a friend I love dearly some huge space, He’s making mistakes that will affect his marriage in the long term but he doesn’t want to hear it even after he asked me to make him accountable. I want to be there when he falls but I need to hold my hands and let him fall to feel the pain. And this is though for me right now but it is good.

    • Steve Pate

      “Parents are wusses” love that line!!!!

  • I could get tougher about calling our students out on stupid decisions they’re making. Like you said, we need to let people fail but we can’t let them make fatal failures. And, sadly, we’ve let students do that more than a few times over fear of hurt feelings or seeming controlling.

    • There is a fine line between controlling and protecting. I catch myself being too controlling sometimes when I just need to let Aracelli fall. Touch the stove? No. Fall down a flight of stairs? No. Get a little cold and wet? Sure.

  • 6 Kids

    Bad parenting ? My wife and I were on partial scholarship, and what wasn’t covered was paid by a guaranteed student loan from the government that doesn’t exist anymore. Yes my 6 kids all received partial scholarships. But the scholarships my wife and I had were huge compared to what they offer today for the same talent. We struggled, and did put our kids through college. The price of education is too high today, and the loan companies have become predators because families are desperate to get their kids through school. To make it worse, a college degree is less valuable today as it was in the past. Today you need a masters or better. Thank God, many of the top schools are offering online programs (some free) that will hopefully balance this disaster. Bring back the community colleges. There are also many professionals and teachers that will offer their time for free to teach. Lets think about the big picture, not pointing fingers at the kids and their parents who wanted a better life for their kids.

    • I definitely agree with you about the community colleges. And then leaving after two years to knock out a four-year degree at a close-to-home state school. You can get a good four-year degree for less than $25,000. If a student went to IPFW here in Fort Wayne, he or she could get a degree from Indiana U or Purdue (more than prestigious enough) for $7,104 a year. If he starts off at the local community college (literally across the street) he can knock out 60 transferable hours for about $7200. That’s about $21,500 for a four-year degree.

      Anyone kid with any initiative and skills at all can earn that much (and a lot more) part-time.

      What Dave was saying and where I agree with him is that riddling your children with $100,000+ in debt right out of college with a useless degree is not being “parents who wanted a better life for their kids.” It’s destroying your kids future.

      Personally, I’ve hired close to 40 people in my life (not a ton but a representative sample) and I’ve literally never cared where someone went to college or even IF they went to college. I hired for skills, personality, and drive. And it worked.