Friday, April 23, 1999

The Best Gift Dad Could Have Given

by Peggy J. Lawson

My father was a CPA. Not only that, he had a sixth sense about the market. He read all the right business journals (such as Kiplinger's and U.S. News) when I was growing up. Occasionally, I would hear him discuss with my mother certain stocks he planned to purchase or investments they already owned.

I knew that as the father of eight children, he had to have another source of income to feed the tribe and help pay for parochial school, but I never really understood what he was doing beyond getting up and going to work every day.

If he had only realized that the best gift he could have ever given his children was his knowledge and experience of the stock market. How I wish he had taught me earlier, but such things just were not discussed back then. Personal finances were hardly ever even discussed with spouses, let alone children.

Yet, teaching the kids how to do what he did perhaps could have helped my brother buy a house instead of joining the Marines during the Vietnam War so that he could have G.I. benefits. It might have helped my sister put herself through college instead of having to pay back so many loans when she graduated. And instead of just now getting started at 46 years of age, perhaps I wouldn't feel so panicked now that I'm looking at retirement in more or less 20 years.

Parents, the real gift is not what you can buy for your child with the money you make from your investments, but the very valuable (I should say priceless) information that your experiences can give them. If my father were here today, I would tell him, "Dad, we could have so much fun investing together. I wish you would teach me."

[For more on teaching your kids about investing, check out the Family Fool archives on teaching about money.]

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