I have many anxieties as a parent. Some are mundane, like I hope my three-year-old will eat her dinner tonight or she makes many friends at school. Others are more long-term, like hoping she finds a path in life where she feels happy and fulfilled. But the one I find myself thinking about more often than I expected is that I hope my daughter appreciates what she has.
It’s an odd thing to worry about, especially for a toddler. But I can’t help coming back to it.
My family is fortunate to be in the position we are in. My wife runs a very successful business, allowing me to step away from my career to be a stay-at-home dad. We also have family and friends who always offer to help us in ways that go above and beyond. We are fortunate, and I hope my daughter appreciates it.
Dad Leaves Kids in Coach to Teach Lesson
When I recently read about a father who chooses to separate from his family and leaves his kids in coach during a flight to teach them a lesson, it caught my attention. If you haven’t heard, Samuel Leeds posted a video on TikTok showing him waving goodbye to his three young kids sitting in coach with a nanny. The video shows him walking to a different cabin with the words, “Rich people, don’t spoil your kids.” Leeds then sits down to a meal in first class with his wife and business partner.
The video gained much traction online, with people on both sides voicing strong opinions.
Leeds defended the decision in a follow-up video on Instagram, saying it’s a teaching moment for his kids.
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“They need to understand the value of money,” he says at one point.
Mixed Feelings About Dad Who Leaves Kids in Coach
These videos left me with a lot of mixed feelings. First, I am always hesitant to criticize someone else’s parenting. Even if it’s not my decision, I think parents deserve the benefit of the doubt when it comes to determining what is best for their children. Also, his kids don’t appear upset or angry when he walks away. Maybe they understand, on some level, the point he is trying to make.
However, putting my daughter with a nanny in coach while I sit in first class would make me uncomfortable. I enjoy spending time with her, especially during a unique experience like a ride on an airplane.
I agree with the message that your children should understand the value of money and appreciate what they have. I also think it’s important for kids from a more privileged background to see and comprehend what is available to them if they work hard while acknowledging it won’t just be given. However, I can’t imagine putting myself on a different level than my daughter.
Is This Negative Parenting?
Highlighting my enviable situation may give off a feeling of superiority. Not only is this an image I would want to avoid projecting in front of other people, but more importantly, it could make my daughter feel inferior. As a father, that’s a feeling I never want her to experience, especially if I’m causing it.
There’s also an argument that this approach could be viewed as negative parenting.
Letting kids “fend for themselves” is a sign of negative parenting, which can cause kids to grow up too soon. It’s also been linked to low self-esteem and difficulty forming and maintaining adult relationships.1
Without knowing Leeds’ relationship with his kids, like his physical and emotional availability, it’s impossible to draw conclusions and unfair to assume this could have a negative impact. I am certainly not making any accusations, but it’s the type of thing that crossed my mind after seeing the video.
Does Leaving Kids Teach or Harm?
As a parent, one of your duties is to prepare your kids for what they will encounter in the future.
There will be plenty of times when those encounters will be challenging and unpleasant and where a privileged background will be a detriment. Teaching your kids the importance of value and appreciation is admirable and essential if you’re in Leeds’ situation. But I also believe there are ways to do it that are less heavy-handed and, potentially, less isolating than a dad who leaves his kids in coach.
There is no right way to parent; for all I know, Leeds may be onto something. If nothing else, he sparked a conversation that transcends borders and cultures about how we are raising our kids. That’s no easy task, and he raised an important topic that should be discussed.
But I don’t see a scenario where I will sit in first class while my daughter sits in coach. It’s not the environment I want to foster with her, and that’s my choice as her father. Besides, it wouldn’t be a relaxing flight with my wife constantly worrying about what my daughter is doing behind her. I don’t care how much extra legroom there is; it isn’t worth that headache!
My anxiety about how best to raise my daughter will continue as I constantly question whether I’m making the right decisions (I know I’m not alone). But I will be looking for a different method to help her appreciate the life she has.