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Don't confuse Money with Love

Don’t Confuse Money with Love

This story is a sad one for me to write but necessary for me to tell you. The story was told to me by a father who loves his daughter but has not seen or spoken to her in many years.

When I met Zack, he was constantly joking around, so you would never know he had been through so much heartache in recent years. I realized later that the joking around was his way of covering up the hurt inside. Zack had always been a good worker and a good provider for his family. He went into sales right out of high school. At first, he sold insurance and did quite well. Then a friend who knew of his people skills recommended him for a position with a large pharmaceutical company. He landed the job and became a pharmaceutical representative. This meant quite a bit of travel, as his territory covered three states, but it also meant a big paycheck for his family. He missed his wife and kids while on the road but became accustomed to the freedoms that it offered him. Zack loved to travel and experience different places and sights. The driving was freeing for him. He said that he not only loved his job but loved that he was able to give his kids all the extras that life had to offer. Since he was gone all week long and home only on the weekends, he was the dad who took his kids to soccer practice, ice skating lessons, piano lessons, and anything else on the agenda. His wife did not join them, as she was off doing her own thing. Over time he grew further and further apart from her as their lives seemed to go in different directions. He confessed he had stayed in the marriage because of the kids.

Zack said that there were many four-day weekends when he took his kids to the amusement park, boating on the lake, camping, or shopping. He told me almost under his breath, “I was the fun guy with the money. But I never disciplined them. When I was at home on the weekends, I wasn’t a father to them; you can say I was more of a friend.”

He said that the years passed quickly, and he confessed that before he knew it his oldest daughter, Meadow, was entering her first year of college. Meadow was a smart, beautiful girl with much ambition who was used to getting what she wanted. She had grown accustomed to a certain lifestyle and wanted to maintain it at the university. She had become a child of privilege as her father bought her whatever ever she wanted. When it was time to pay her college tuition, she did not have to worry. Her father was there to pay the bill. Zack did not want his kids to be concerned about paying student loan debt. He had heard horror stories from many friends and business associates who spoke of the high interest rates attached to student loans and how many years it takes the person to pay the money back to the lender. He told me that he was prepared to pay all his children’s college tuitions if they passed their courses and received their degree.

Zack shared that Meadow was in her first year of school when he and his wife divorced. Although it was best for all involved, it caused friction between Zack and his daughter. She wanted to make sure he was going to pay for her school tuition. He assured her that he would continue to give her a monthly check for tuition and books. Her dad continued to pay for her cell phone bill, her health insurance, and her car insurance. He said, “As if I wasn’t doing enough for her, she asked to move into my rental house with her boyfriend. She said they could ‘take care of the home with the pool and help you out,’ Zack said.” Zack explained that he had purchased the upscale home as an investment. “If truth be told,” he said, “I needed the tax write-off.” Zack had been surprised by both of her bold requests. He had told her no.

Zack was overwhelmed with his work and the divorce. It was not until his funds got tight that he came to the realization that the $2,000 monthly check he had been giving his daughter for the last five years had surely exceeded the amount Meadow required to finish school. He had taken her at her word that she needed this money and had believed her because he wanted to. He did confess to me that he had had his doubts, but Meadow was his daughter; she would never lie to him. He did not bother to call the university that she was attending to check on her progress. He had trusted that she was old enough to handle her college tuition and use it wisely, Zack said. “Meadow was too young and needed supervision, but I didn’t give her any. My mistake. I believed in my mind that I had taught her by example to be responsible and trustworthy, but apparently not.”

“The next time we spoke, I explained to her that she had been attending school now for five years and that I could not afford to continue to send her a check for $2,000 a month any longer. She argued that her final classes were almost complete.” Zack loves his daughter, so he agreed to give her $1,000 a month to help with her expenses until she was done with school.

He told me that several months had passed when he received a call from his youngest daughter delivering the news that her sister, Meadow, was pregnant. He was shocked and disappointed that Meadow had not called him herself. He said that he dialed her immediately; he wanted to find out how she was and to congratulate her. Her father was disappointed that she had not told him herself but loves his daughter. When he did reach her on the phone, Meadow was quite emotional and said that she was angry with him for not sending more money. He explained that since his divorce, he just did not have the extra funds to give her. He was still struggling financially from paying her mother a large settlement. Meadow screamed at her father and told him the money did not matter anyway, as she already had taken out a $50,000 student loan a few years back! Zack could not believe what he was hearing from his daughter. Who was this person? His daughter had become a selfish spoiled brat! Now he realized that he had not been paying for her school, he had been funding her life style! They argued, and she hung up on her father. The letdown was hard on Zack.

Several months had passed with no communication between Zack and Meadow when he received a call from his son with news that Meadow had delivered a healthy baby girl. Zack was happy for his daughter and called the hospital to congratulate her, but she did not answer his call. Although Zack was not in town when his granddaughter arrived, he attempted to contact Meadow once more on her cell phone. Her voice mail clicked on, and he left her a nice congratulatory message. Again, she did not return his phone call.

Time passed, and he heard from a relative that Meadow was graduating from college. Zack was happy that Meadow had completed her school, but why had she not invited him to attend her graduation ceremony? “After giving her a monthly check for five years so she didn’t have student loans, and this is how she repays me!” Zack said. He realized that maybe he did not know his daughter as well as he thought he had. The only time he had seen his kids was on the weekends when they were having fun or at the store when he was buying them stuff. Zack realized that Meadow associated him with money. Where’s the love? he thought. I have been a good father, and this is how I am treated by my own daughter?

He had a difficult time finishing his story. He continued and said that she became pregnant with her second child and he heard through the grapevine that she had married the father. “She didn’t call me to invite me to her wedding or invite me to meet my second grandchild,” Zack shared. He continued to say, “My grandkids are probably seven and eight years old by now. “Meadow has never attempted to let me see them, so I’m not sure what their names are. My ex-wife called several times regarding money but did not let me know what was happening with our daughter. She said it was between the two of us."

He expressed to me that he feels that what Meadow has done is irreversible. “You can’t fix it or take it back, they are years lost that will never be, and cannot be, recovered. You can’t buy lost time!” Zack said.

She used her father for his money, and when he stopped giving her money, she moved on to her next financial target, her husband. Her boyfriend had married her after their second child had been born.

Zack wanted me to know that he has forgiven Meadow for her behavior. He realizes that she is young and may change how she feels about her father when she is older and more mature. He told me the door is always open to his child.

This is a sad truth that you just finished reading, but without the proper supervision our children are compiling a large amount of college debt. They are young and are not realizing how long it will take them to pay the money back, with interest, to the financial institution. There are many young adults who have signed on the dotted line, taken several thousand dollars and spent it, and must now get a job to pay it back. Some students end up not finishing school. Their intentions were good, but after they take out the loans, they don’t manage the money properly, and it’s too easy to spend it on stuff. We must change the mind-set from material items being the most important thing in life to a spiritual mind-set where people are the most important thing in life!

A New Mind-Set: As the guardians of our youth, it is up to us to step up and teach the younger generations about honesty, integrity, and love. Everyone benefits from a role model to help guide them in life regardless of age or gender. Mentor someone—having a positive influence will change their life. Teach them that material possessions do not equal love.

I can live without money, but I cannot live without love.

—Judy Garland

For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

—1 Timothy 6:10

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