Butlers, beamers and brats. That’s mainly what comes to mind when many of us think of the perks and privileges rich kids are privy to. No work and all play makes Jack a spoiled boy.
Mark Cuban isn’t stupid. He realizes his billions could rub off on his kids the wrong way. He says it “ literally scares the shit out of” him that they could end up snobby, entitled brats, to a point where it sometimes eats at him at night.
“After their health failing, my greatest fear in life -- and I’ve said this to my 11-year-old daughter and have obviously talked about it with my wife, Tiffany -- is that I don’t want them to be entitled jerks,” Cuban tells me on Culver City, Calif., set of Shark Tank.
Doing my part as an overachieving helicopter parent, I've brought my 10-year-old daughter along to interview Cuban for a school project. Being the nagging stickler I am, I want her to hear Cuban’s philosophies on raising “nice,” responsible kids. She, on the other hand, wants to know what kinds of “super duper fancy” luxury cars “long, tall Mr. Cuban” will gift his three children with when they turn 16. Neither of us have the nerve to ask.
Turns out, we don’t really have to. If what the 56-year-old tech mogul and Dallas Mavericks owner tells us is true, his three young children -- Alexis Sofia, Alyssa and Jake -- will probably have to save up for their first wheels, at least some of the cash and maybe mostly on their own. Kind of like “ normal” kids who don’t kick it in a sprawling, 24,000-square-foot Dallas mansion. If big daddy Cuban has his way, they’ll be humble and hard-working.
“I don’t want my kids to think, ‘Oh, this is going to be easy,” he says, echoing fellow Shark Tank investor Kevin O’Leary’s parenting principles. “‘I get whatever I want because I’m Mark Cuban’s daughter or son.’” Cuban says he’s doing his darndest to ensure his children grow up grounded, “excited to learn and accomplish achievements on their own, without being dependent on me, knowing that they can stand on their own two feet.”
Part of raising his kids, the heirs to his massive fortune, to be independent is teaching them not to be overly materialistic. He wants the message to get through that “life is about more than stuff.” That’s no easy feat when you own a Guinness World Book record-breaking $40-million private jet (which the early Internet entrepreneur purchased online, of course).
Still, you’ve got to respect the guy for trying. In chatting with him for a few minutes about parenting, as a fellow parent of three (but nowhere near rich, not by a longshot), I got the feeling Cuban, who grew up middle-class and sold garbage bags door-to-door when he was 12 to save up for basketball shoes, wasn’t bullshitting me. His heart genuinely seems like it’s in the right place here.
"I’m not the dad that comes home with a ton of presents,” he recently told Business Insider. “I am the dad that says, ‘Pick that up. Take that; put it in the sink. No, you have to earn that.’ I want them to recognize that the only thing special about themselves is what they make for themselves.”
And Cuban’s kids do a decent amount for themselves, including everyday chores. They don’t technically get catered to like Richie Rich. And by that I mean that they don’t have a butler. They do have a nanny, though mainly on weekdays only, save for nights when the Mavs play at home and for Saturday mornings when the Cuban parental units hit the gym. “Then the rest of the weekend it’s just us,” he also told Business Insider. “It’s us putting them to bed. It’s us at dinner. We try to be as normal as possible. The whole idea of someone serving you, this and that, that’s not us."
To watch Cuban dole out his trademark no-bull advice on how to raise a successful business from the ground up, tune in to the Shark Tank Season Seven premiere, airing Friday, Sept. 25, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on your local ABC station.