Children are a gift from God, and parents have an awesome stewardship responsibility to teach them about life and handling money. Our job as parents is to take care of the input: teaching, training, and most of all, modeling good stewardship. Our children are responsible for the outcome. Please understand this. Parents, we decide and control inputs, the children will leave home and behave based on what they absorbed; we don't control their behavior. Moreover, our inputs do not guarantee how they will turn out. When we train them, give them room to develop, grow, and in the process they will make mistakes. Teach them how to learn from these mistakes.
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 charlatons, 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 develeoped world. Parents, teaching children about money is our responsibility, so we must model effective financial stewardship to them. 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 your 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 A Bell developed the Capital Fund primarily to teach his children to save to buy stuff. Model this practice. As your children mature, change their chores and allowances. Hold your children accountable to do as planned.
Parents, your attitude to your 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 you don’t follow these or similar guidelines, you will cause your 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, I 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: