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Mick Jagger's lesson on parenting

By Ruben Navarrette Jr., CNN Contributor
March 22, 2013 -- Updated 1659 GMT (0059 HKT)
The young band pose for a portrait in a boat, 1964. From left to right are: Mick Jagger, Charlie Watts, Brian Jones, Keith Richards and Bill Wyman. Bassist Wyman joined the Stones in 1962 before leaving in 1993. The young band pose for a portrait in a boat, 1964. From left to right are: Mick Jagger, Charlie Watts, Brian Jones, Keith Richards and Bill Wyman. Bassist Wyman joined the Stones in 1962 before leaving in 1993.
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • According to the Daily Mail, Mick Jagger's ex-wife asked him to buy houses for their kids
  • Ruben Navarrette: Jagger is right to be wary of such "parental housing subsidies"
  • He says being a good parent is teaching adult children to stand on their own two feet
  • Navarrette: If kids grow up to be dependent on their parents, then we have failed them

Editor's note: Ruben Navarrette Jr. is a CNN contributor and a nationally syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group. Follow him on Twitter: @rubennavarrette.

San Diego (CNN) -- Here are six words I thought I'd never hear myself say: "I can relate to Mick Jagger."

You might think that there wouldn't be much common ground between a 69-year-old British rock 'n' roll icon and a 45-year-old Mexican-American columnist. But there is. Apparently, our philosophies on raising kids without spoiling them with parental handouts are quite similar.

This information comes courtesy of Jagger's chatty ex-wife, Jerry Hall. According to the British tabloid newspaper The Daily Mail, Hall said she has been pressuring Jagger -- unsuccessfully, I might add -- to dip into his fortune (estimated at about $300 million) and buy houses for three of his kids who are in their 20s.

Ruben Navarrette Jr.
Ruben Navarrette Jr.
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Yes, that's right. I said houses. Not cars or clothes or jet skis.

Hall is going for broke and asking Jagger to purchase houses for the three children -- Lizzie, 29, James, 27, and Georgia, 21. The daughters are models, and the son is a musician. The couple has a fourth child, Gabriel, 15, but he still lives at home with his mom.

The way that Jerry sees it, Mick can easily afford the purchase. The multimillionaire reportedly has five homes of his own. So what's the problem?

The problem, according to the tabloid newspaper, is that Jagger, who is known to be "famously careful with his pennies," is firmly opposed to these types of "parental housing subsidies." According to the newspaper, the Jagger thinks that his children have already enjoyed many advantages in life and that setting them up in their own homes will do more harm than good.

Those who know Jagger well -- including his oldest daughter, Jade, who is the only child of his marriage to ex-wife Bianca -- say that he strongly believes that children ought not think themselves entitled to their parents' money and that they have to make their own way in life.

Jade, who has her own jewelry store, told the newspaper: "I was never a trust-fund child. Dad's got a healthy attitude toward work. You have to look after yourself."

Bravo. Americans really need to hear that message. And not just our kids; all of us should get an earful. At a time when runaway entitlement spending and a national debt of more than $16 trillion threaten the economic future of the United States, the national motto has become "Where's mine?"

Now more than ever, Americans need to understand that part of being a good parent is teaching their adult children to stand on their own two feet.

As a parent of three young children, I can imagine that this isn't easy to do. My kids know that I'm an easy mark. And I struggle daily with saying no -- or, in some cases, with making them do chores and save their allowances to buy things on their own.

But I understand where Jagger is coming from, and I applaud him. He's on the right track, and a lot of other people are on the wrong one.

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Somewhere, in the vast universe of parenting, we lost our way. We've convinced ourselves that loving our kids also means supporting them more than we need to. That is not so. Caring for our children is one thing, but making them dependent on us well into adulthood is another. The former is the sign of a good parent; the latter is a recipe for trouble.

Billionaire Warren Buffet refers to it as the "lottery of the womb" -- this sense that some people have that they are entitled to their parents' money through inheritance or lavish gifts.

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In writing about parenting over the years, and talking about it with other parents, I've become convinced that a lot of parents with young children worry more that they're giving their kids too much rather than too little. The concern is that in trying to keep their kids from struggling, they're making their lives too comfy. At the very least, most of us are probably giving our kids much more than what we were given by our parents when we were growing up. We need to ask: What harm is this doing?

These days, when you're raising kids, materialism doesn't merely knock on your door. It busts through. Ten-year-olds are asking for cell phones.

When our kids want something and ask us for it, we might ask ourselves three questions: Is it a good price? Can we afford it? Do they deserve it?

But those are the wrong questions. We need ask ourselves only one question: Will buying my child this item teach him positive values or negative ones?

You see, it doesn't matter how much money Mick Jagger has or what he can afford. That is not the issue. The issue is that he's trying to teach his children some values, something that isn't always easy to do when you're one of the megawealthy.

Like the saying goes, you want to leave your kids enough money so they can do something with their lives -- but not so much that they can do nothing.

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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Ruben Navarrette.

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