Oh how I WISH this were a “ripped from the headlines” caption from the tabloids. Alas, alack and lackaday, I’m referring today to an actual event and conversation I overheard in a Starbucks in St. Paul, MN just a few minutes ago.

A  mom walks into the cafe with her 9-year old son in tow. They run into a gentleman they know who notices the young boy clutching what appears to be trading cards. When asked, the mom explains that, no, they’re not trading cards, they’re lottery tickets.

“He uses his entire allowance each week to buy lottery tickets,” she added.

That’s when my head exploded.

A few minute later, though, the plot thickened. The mom, a girlfriend of hers and the boy sat down at the table across from me and the two women began talking. The boy was bored and started interrupting. To which the mother responded: “Stop that behavior or we’re not going to walk down to the convenience store and cash in your winning lottery tickets!”

At that moment, my head started spinning around and around and around……..What’s wrong with this story?

Now, you may already have an idea of why I’ve got a challenge with all this. But just in case you don’t, let me explain why I found this entire event absolutely appalling.

What Are We Teaching Our Children About Money?

First and foremost, I’m constantly extolling the virtues of good stewardship and money management. So what does a child learn — or not learn — by being allowed and encouraged to spend their ENTIRE allowance, ALL their income on  lottery tickets?

They don’t learn how to budget. They don’t learn how to save. They don’t learn how to give to others. They don’t learn how to invest. They don’t learn how to create anything. They only learn how to gamble on hoping that a big win will transform their lives. They don’t learn how to be empowered with their money.

And what do they learn by having their “income” tied to their good behavior? They learn that they have to “deserve” the good that comes to them. They learn to tie their worth to their behavior. Am I “good enough?” Did I “do enough?” They learn deep-seated money beliefs and behaviors that will taint their ability to give and receive for decades until they “unlearn” them. I should know…. hundreds of people every month download the free copy of my Heal Your Relationship With Money Workbook just so they can get clarity about and change this type of behavior.

This mother may not know it, but she’s setting her child up for a lifetime of financial conflicts that could range from financial arguments with their spouse, running up credit card bills, living paycheck to paycheck, foreclosure, bankruptcy, underearning , hording, stinginess and so much more. What he is learning now will sabotage his ability to create true financial security and a true sense of self worth. Be mindful of what we teach the children. They’re the best hope we have for a brighter financial future. Given how well the US Congress did trying to balance our federal budget before the midnight deadline as this fine day began, we’re gonna need all the help we can get!

I’m just saying….