When it comes to raising children, no one has all the answers. Parenting is a series of experiences and experiments to help you figure out what your child enjoys, appreciates, and accepts. Keeping that in mind, the topic of regular allowances is one that has been the subject of much debate over the years. Are allowances a good idea? Should the child be expected to work in order to get an allowance? Are doing household chores and receiving an allowance simply a part of belonging to the family? While these questions seem fairly minor if your child is young, your responses can shape the way your child saves, spends and gives money when they are older, so it is important to start teaching them when they are young.
A vast majority of people agree that children take after their parents. You are their first, last and most influential teacher. As such, parents bear the responsibility of training children in their attitude toward money and possessions. Take a look at the Bible and money management passages found within:
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and even when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
By teaching your children to manage money wisely, you give them a gift beyond measure. Helping them take on more responsibility for their finances while you are there to guide and lead them provides with valuable lessons they just could not learn any other way. The best thing that can happen is that they will make a lot of mistakes while you are teaching them. These mistakes provide opportunities for you to help them understand what went wrong and how to avoid that situation in the future.
Fiscal responsibility for a child can start with something as small as a dollar a week to be used for candy or gum. The next step is to entrust them with more responsibility, such as lunch money for the week. When they make mistakes, help walk them through what happened and do not (under any circumstances) bail them out. If they spend the whole week’s lunch money on Monday buying candy for all their friends, then it’s up to them to figure out how to eat lunch for the rest of the week. Furthermore, this lesson means they have to forage in the pantry or the refrigerator for lunch—mom and dad should not go out to buy whatever delicacies they desire.
Having them make mistakes and then walking them through what went wrong will set them on a path of respect for the value of money. The 10 year old child who gets bailed out when he blows his lunch money on candy is the same one who will ask mom and to pay off his credit card debt when he is 35.
At Compass Catholic, we encourage parents to take the MVP approach to teaching fiscal responsibility.
- M: Model what God says about handling money. Let them see you being a good steward through generous giving, wise spending, conscious and regular saving, and paying off your debt.
- V: Verbally communicate the financial truths from God’s word. Explain why you’re doing what you do. Quote the Bible and money management passages that relate to your actions (see the other Compass blogs for ideas).
- P: Give your children practical opportunities to apply what they’ve seen you do and heard you talk about.
As parents, we have the ultimate influence over how our children think. If we think that money and possessions are the ultimate goal of life, so will they. If we think that a lifestyle full of things will cause people to love us, so will they. If we run up debt to fulfill every whim, so will they.
Our thoughts influence their thoughts, and we can influence them toward the holy and moral or we can influence them toward the secular and worldly. We can teach our children to love people or to love things. We can teach them to honor God or the almighty dollar. We can help them see there is a better way or help them follow the path of the world.
How we train them now determines in a large part their thoughts and attitudes when they are adults. Our children can be taught to love things and use people or to love people and use things.
It’s up to us to train them in the way they should go because when they are old they will not depart from it.