What is $10K parenting?

This week, I taught my seven year old about interest rates. Armed with a perfectly crisp $50 bill (courtesy of an uber generous grandparent), she was ready to pounce.

On a corgi for Violet, her American Doll. (What a scam!)

On her 13th Beanie Boo. (Since a unicorn with polka dots was missing from the collection.)

Heck, even though we have Spotify she wanted to buy Ava Max’s single Sweet but Psycho for $0.99 just to buy it. (Plus, I can’t stand that song.)

Never one to miss a teaching moment, the child of immigrants in me seized on the opportunity to explain the holy grail of compound interest and delayed gratification.

So together we created a money tree.

The plan was quite simple. Don’t spend the money for a week, and it will grow. Here’s our banking ledger:

(To make it worth her while, I had to promise 5% weekly interest. Admittedly, quite problematic in the midst of ZIRP, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.)

A week went by, and I updated her ledger. And gave myself a nod for a good parenting award.

I was recently asked: what is a $10,000/hr activity as a parent. Not in the income-generating sense of the framework; but in terms of something that can have a lasting and amplified impact on the lives of our children.

$10,000/hr work revisited

As a brief recap, the $10K Framework asks: What’s an activity that is 10x, 100x, and 1000x more impactful?

Applied to parenting that may look as follows:

  • $10: Buying them a book
  • $100: Reading them the book (without being on your phone)
  • $1,000: Taking the time to explain the concepts and life lessons
  • $10,000: ???

Using that lens, my Money Tree probably fell somewhere between $100 and $1k. Good for them to know, but probably not going to drastically change your child’s happiness.

So I went back to the drawing board and came up with the following list.

Unconditional love

Ensuring that they know that they are always loved unconditionally – no matter what happens. That includes setbacks, mistakes, disagreements, and obstacles. (This is quite hard, given that many RadReaders struggle to love themselves unconditionally.)

Never shaming them

Letting your kids know that mistakes are inevitable, but you support their learning and growth without judgement and shame. (BTW, this doesn’t mean indiscriminately handing out participation trophies.)

Giving them the fullness of presence

In Radical Acceptance, the author and spiritual teacher Tara Brach describes love as “the fullness of presence.” Can you show your kids that you’re with them, you’re 100% with them? (Ditching the one-handed parenting and multi-tasking.)


Now, I’m going to abandon the framework itself because it’s kinda besides the point. And I zoomed out on the question and asked, as parents: What do we truly want for our kids?

Once their basic needs are covered, I suspect it’s their unalienable right to the pursuit of happiness. We want them to be be happy and to thrive in the world.

But this last one hits quite hard, because it requires me (as a parent) to know what makes me happy.

A question that is as timeless as the written word. Now we can be intellectually lazy and say things like degrees, houses, and fancy job titles. But if you’ve read this far, you’re probably saying to yourself “Sure, those are all nice. But that’s not IT.

My attempts to answer this question have led me to a mash-up definition of happiness consisting of healthy relationships, being of service, a quiet mind (with zero internal chatter), the absence of desire, and overall sustained contentment.

And to be honest, I feel like I’m only scratching the surface of the question.

Is it possible that $10K parenting is the (seemingly selfish) act of asking, then answering the question: What is it that TRULY makes me happy?

(Editors Note: When it comes to parenting, I am the furthest thing from an expert. I’m making it up as I go along, so please don’t take any of this as truisms.)

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