ver the past few years, several parents complained to me about their children drifting from values and principles they taught them. Statements like:
- How can my child stop going to church and Bible study?
- Why are they drinking alcohol?
- How have they become so liberal?
- Where did I go wrong?
As a grandfather, father of two children, and one of six children, I realized years ago, parents handle inputs and don’t control how their children behave when they leave home. Our role as parents is to be the best with what we know and what we have, and accept our inputs do not guarantee how our children will turn out. When we train them, we must give them room to develop, grow, and in the process they will make mistakes. But we must be careful we don’t raise them in cocoons and keep them ignorant from realities in the world. Besides, a key training is to teach them how to learn from mistakes.
To be sure, 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
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.
Allowance to Teach Children to Spend
An allowance is a great tool to teach children to spend. Around age six or seven (or earlier, if fitting) when oour 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, and hold them accountable to do as planned.
Teach Children About Money & Hold Them Accountable
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. Here are some guidelines to help teach children to spend by working with a spending plan (budget):
- Let them see you accepting what you have, and saving to buy stuff.
- Do what you say; be consistent, fair, and gracious.
- At the right age (highly subjective and individual), give them dollars to spend to do their spending plans.
- Agree goals, plans, and spending with children; teach them to work with these, and hold them accountable.
- If a child has an issue with the agreed goal and spending plan, work with her on a resolution.
- Teach them to follow the agreed goals, and teach them they must bear effects of poor judgment and disobedience.
- Don’t give more funds than agreed, unless you see a need to fill.
- Listen, hear, understand our children; it doesn’t matter that what they are doing is different from what you did at their ages.
- Children will play one parent against another. Love them equally, treat them uniquely, though they might cry foul.
- Allow them to make mistakes and help them learn from those mistakes.
Parents, if you don’t follow these or similar guidelines, you will cause our children to stumble, and they won’t learn a key lesson: how to work with what they have. To help train 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.
© 2022 Michel A. Bell