How a Couple Enabled Their 12 Kids to Be Independent and Pay for College All by Themselves

April 12, 2019 Updated: April 17, 2019

Imagine being able to pay for college all by yourself. Or better yet, that your kids—all 12 of them—were able to pay for their own degree. Sound hard to believe? Well, meet the Thompsons, who not only made this a reality but proved that instilling hard work, fiscal parenting, responsibility, and traditional values in children can reap tremendous and long-lasting benefits for both the child and for the family. So how did they do it? Read on to find out…

Francis L. Thompson and his wife have been married for over 40 years, and raised 12 children over 15.5 years. The couple raised their kids in Utah, Florida, and now live in Colorado.

All 12 children have graduated with college degrees and had no financial backing from the parents—parents who had enough money to pay for anything but decided not to.

Some of the children who are now married have spouses with similar ethics along with a college degree too.

Additionally, Francis and his wife have 18 grandchildren who have learned the same things as their kids, such as respect, gratitude, and a desire to contribute and give back to society, according to Quartz Membership.

Now, what exactly did they do? Well, for one thing it wouldn’t have been easy, and would have required tremendous discipline and commitment on their part.

The core component, according to Francis, is the loving relationship between husband and wife.

Francis wrote: “I attribute the love between us as a part of our success with the children. They see a stable home life with a commitment that does not have compromises.”

Here a list of what they did:

1. Chores

Illustration – Shutterstock | Yuganov Konstantin

The best way to instil discipline and a solid work ethic is to start young. Francis and his wife got their kids to start from the age of 3—and the first job was to clean the toilets. Francis admits that children don’t do too good a job at that age, but by age 4, they will be doing a reasonable job.

Additionally, the kids washed their own clothes by age 8, made dinner by reading a recipe, and learned how to sew.

They were paid an allowance based on the quality of their chores for the week.

2. Study

Illustration – Pixabay | White77

Education, according to Francis, is very important in his family.

Every week would see study time scheduled from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. During this time, no games, television, or other activities were allowed. No exceptions. If there was no homework, they had to read. If a child was too young to be in school, someone read to them.

All the kids took every Advanced Placement class there was, which Francis and his wife demanded from the school. The parents would then spend time ensuring their kids understood the material to pass the class.

The children were taught to not blame the teacher for any unfairness but instead take responsibility for the material taught, and do better.

3. Extracurriculars

Illustration – Pixabay | sweetlouise

All the kids had to play a sport, no exceptions. It didn’t matter what it was, or if they wanted to change sports—they had to play something.

They also had to be in some club, such as Scouts, drama, and do community service. For example, the family would volunteer with the community and for their church.

Illustration – Shutterstock | Dmytro Zinkevych

4. Eating Habits

Illustration – Shutterstock |

Picky eaters were not allowed in the Thompson household. If they didn’t like something, the parents would allow them to leave it, but if they were hungry later on, the parents would reheat the food and provide it to them.

Breakfast and dinner would be eaten together. Breakfast was at 5:15 a.m., then the children could do the chores before going to school; dinner was at 5:30 p.m.

The family would have a balanced diet with the four food groups—meat, dairy, fruits, and vegetables. Because they were very active, the children were thin, athletic, and very healthy.

5. Getting Their First Car and Making Their Own Computer

Illustration – Shutterstock | Lisa F. Young

The kids got their first car when they turned 16.

When the eldest child got her first car, it came on the back of a tow truck and it was a wreck. Looking at the car’s potential, Francis gave the eldest child a repair manual and said, “I will pay for every part, but will not pay for LABOR.” Eleven months later, the car was functioning with a rebuilt engine, transmission, new interior, suspension, and paint. His daughter was extremely proud of her car, and it was one of the hottest cars at her high school.

The kids got their computer at age 12, but similar to the car example, they had to build it on their own. Francis brought all the parts—case, processor, memory, hard drive, etc.—and they assembled it and installed the software.

6. Supporting Each Other

Illustration – Shutterstock | Liderina

The kids were required to help each other. For example, the ones in older years would tutor those in younger years in subjects such as algebra.

Older kids would teach younger kids how to do certain weekly chores, and they accomplished the tasks together.

The kids were also involved in making the family rules. For example, toys could only be in the bedroom or playroom. But Francis and his wife had the power to veto those rules.

7. Holidays

Illustration – Shutterstock | Yuganov Konstantin

The Thompsons would take a two- or three-week summer vacation every year. Despite being able to afford a hotel or cruise, they would go camping or backpacking instead. If it rained, they would be resourceful and figure out how to survive in the rain.

Illustration – Shutterstock | Tomsickova Tatyana

The kids would also be flown to relatives in Europe for two or three weeks at a time—this started from age 5, and only if they wanted to go. This experience allowed the kids to have time to grow independently while knowing their parents were always there for them.

8. Financial Independence

Illustration – Shutterstock |  hidesy

As well as paying for their own college tuition, the children also bought their own homes and paid for their own weddings. Francis said that the kids were taught how to create wealth, such as how to buy rental property. Francis had sufficient money but did not freely give any of it to his children. Instead, he taught them how to get it.

9. Consequences for Their Actions

Illustration – Pixabay | Antranias

The parents loved the children but did not prevent the consequences for any of their actions; instead, they would let them suffer the consequences regardless of what they did. They would be understanding and cry along with them, but would not attempt to reduce the consequences.

10. The Parents’ Final Remarks

According to Empowering Parents, a parent’s role becomes more functional and less emotional as the child grows older. This can be hard for parents who want the child to be their confidante.

Father and son time (Illustration – Pixbay | Free-Photos).

However, for Francis and his wife, they made sure that delineation was made clear.

“We were and are not our kids’ best friends. We were their parents,” he said.