Don't Try to Be an ATM
Someone once described a father as a man who carries pictures where his money used to be. Indeed, Dad might suspect that the photo wallet is marketing ploy designed by toy makers, displaying his little darlings' faces every time he goes for the credit card.
But declaring the wallet completely closed for business isn't practical or fun. On the contrary, judiciously indulging a son's material wants can teach realistic expectations about money and nudge him along positive paths of behavior. For example, do you give a son the last $20 he needs to buy a video game he's been saving for? It's one thing if he's been scrimping for six months and just missed a sale price. It's another if he hasn't bothered to save enough because he's used to having other people cover him.
The same principle applies to needs as well as wants. Yes, a boy needs to make friends and identify with his peers. Does he need $100 name-brand, celebrity-endorsed shoes to do it?
"Know thy son" is a useful guide for loosening the purse strings. It's also key for cutting the apron strings, as it were. And that leads to our next point.