Paradise Valley resident Larry Winget has written six books on personal and financial responsibility. He’s a regular on radio and television, but I had never heard of him until his book, Your Kids Are Your Own Fault: A Guide for Raising Responsible, Productive Adults (Gotham Books, 2010) landed on my desk. Its hard-edged approach to parenting is a stark contrast to the warm, nurturing perspectives typical of so many other parenting books. Larry is a warm, humorous guy who has a lot of fun—and makes a lot of money—telling it like he sees it.
Dan: You are a motivational speaker and a financial guru and you’ve trademarked yourself as The Pit Bull of Personal Development. Why did you decide to write a parenting book?
Larry: I looked at the results we had in our society and started tracking it back to the real source of the problem. We’re not teaching people how to make their lives based on honesty and integrity. Those have become societal problems in terms of our finances and how we run our businesses. I went back to the root cause of all of our problems, which in my opinion is bad parenting.
Dan: I read what I call the “overs” and “unders” in your book—kids are “over-medicated, overindulged, overweight, over-entertained, under-educated, under-achieving, under disciplined, disrespectful, illiterate brats.”
Larry: Yeah, it’s kind of hard to argue with that, though. See the problem is, we want to blame the kid. We all go in a restaurant and see this obnoxious little child running around the restaurant wreaking havoc and we think, “That’s a bad kid.” No, that’s a lazy parent who has created that problem for all of us to deal with and that problem, if not dealt with when the child is little, becomes a problem to all of us when the child is 35 and defaults on their mortgage simply because they’re too lazy to go to work to keep their job and they borrow more than they can and those kinds of things. Those are problems that we’re all going to deal with that, in my opinion, could have been curtailed when the child was very young.
Dan: One of your sons is a policeman and the other is a fashion designer. They’re very different kids coming from the same parents.
Larry: Isn’t that amazing? I have one kid that’s a fashion designer and the other who’s really a trained killer. He’s a sniper for the Phoenix Police Department—a rifle expert and a handgun guy. He’s a patroller for the Phoenix PD. Yeah, a trained killer and a fashion designer. The purest aspects of my personality. They just divided them very cleanly between themselves.
Dan: So if parents are thinking about reading your book, how should they prepare themselves? It’s not a coddling book.
Larry: Primarily the book is about the things your child has to know in order to become a successful adult. They have to know about money, they have to have an understanding about health and relationships and sex and all those things that are difficult for people to talk about.
Dan: There’s quite a long section in the book about money, finances and being responsible and that’s something you talk about in your other books and on television.
Larry: The fact that the average person has $10,000 in credit card debt and 50 percent of people spend more money than they earn…are issues that I think can be related back to the fact that we haven’t talked to our kids directly and openly and honestly about how to earn money, how to save money, invest it, be charitable with it and enjoy it. We have a tendency now to think that enjoying your money is spending all you make so you can have all the things you want.
Dan: What do you think is the most difficult part about parenting?
Larry: Well, I think it comes down to a matter of time right now. It’s about prioritization. You can’t tell me that you love your kids when the average parent spends about three and a half minutes in meaningful conversation per week with their kids. Don’t tell me you love your kid when you don’t love them enough to talk to them. Don’t tell me you love your kid when you’re [over]feeding them and we have an obese society out there. Or when you’re not making sure that your kid has the right kind of friends or when you’re not making sure that they’re playing and active and so forth. Don’t talk to me about how much you love your kid when your actions don’t back it up. Spend the time to make sure your kid turns out to be the right kind of adult. RAK
To learn more
Larry’s website is larrywinget.com.