Children are a gift from God, and parents have an exceptional stewardship responsibility to teach them about life. Our job as parents is to take care of inputs: teaching, training, and most of all, modeling good stewardship. Our children will leave home and behave based on what they absorbed. We must understand what we teach might not be what they learn; that’s why our walk must match our talk.
Teaching children about money means different things to different people. Some people teach children to take credit cards. Others teach them to save, which is vital; but teaching children to spend is even more important. There are many charlatans, and situations enticing everyone to spend, so we ought to practice and teach our children how to spend. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Yet, Canadians are awash with credit card debt and we are the most indebted nation in the so called developed world. Parents, we must model effective financial stewardship to our children. But it mustn’t be sporadic, instead, it needs regular quantity time.
An allowance is a great tool to teach children to spend. Around age six or seven (or earlier, if fitting) when our children start to appreciate that we need money to buy stuff for them, give each of them an allowance, no matter how small. To earn the allowance, give them age-appropriate chores to develop responsible attitudes toward work. From this allowance, teach them to give, to save, and to spend, working with simple spending plans (budgets). Teach them to set realistic goals and to work diligently to do these goals. Don’t lend them money. Michel developed the Capital Fund primarily to teach his children to save to buy stuff. Model this practice. As our children mature, change their chores and allowances. Hold our children accountable to do as planned.
Parents, our attitude to our children’s accountability will decide how much they learn. In today’s busyness environment, it is difficult to invest time to listen, hear, feel, empathize, and discipline our children. It is easier to ignore accountability; but, while teaching children about money, we must show and teach them to act responsibly and be ready to account for resources they use. Parents, you must model this to help them become better stewards. Here are some guidelines to help teach children to spend by working with a spending plan (budget):
Parents, if we don’t follow these or similar guidelines, we will cause our children to stumble, and they won’t learn a key lesson: how to work with what they have. To help train to children, years ago, Michel devised the Family Council, as a primary family teaching and learning center. Its purpose is to meet regularly for a maximum one hour, to listen to children share what’s happening in their lives. However, this works only when children know they can be safe with parents. A safe place is the first step.
Enjoy Adie’s corner, which we featured in our quarterly letters in 2001 and 2002. Adie is Michel’s grand daughter who wrote these articles when she was nine: