**Post by guest blogger Chris Kingsley**
In many of my posts, I have tried to make the connection between the ways that we as parents manage and view our money and what this teaches our children about money.
The way that we manage money will obviously hint greatly as to our own view of the role of money and its importance. Kids, being very perceptive, will pick up on this. Asking ourselves what our actions and conversations relating to money communicate about the nature of money is a proactive way of recognizing that children will learn more, in many respects, from our behaviors than from our words.
That being said, however, words are extremely important as well. Intentionally teaching as we go through financial events and decisions will ensure that our children have a framework for interpreting our household’s behavior and decisions related to finances. There are, of course, a lot of things that I want Isa (and her rapidly approaching younger sibling!) to understand about money and its role in our realities. Here are a few of the most important ones:
Money is for us – not us for money. So many people spend their lives chasing and serving money. Money and its accumulation (or lack) dominates the thought-life of these people, leaving much higher purposes unfulfilled. My children will be taught that they have a destiny and calling on their lives much greater than accumulating wealth or serving the almighty dollar. Whatever money passes through their hands, I want them to view as a tool for fulfilling their destinies. In other words, money, and other resources that my children will manage (talents, time, relationships, etc.) are there to play a role in fulfilling a higher purpose. For some, money is a major resource in fulfilling a high purpose. For others, it may play a small role. Be content either way.
Fight to not let money take you captive. I want to be proactive in teaching my children about debt and the use of credit. There are very few situations in which a person should spend more money than they currently have (by using someone else’s). I want them to understand the blessing of owing as few people money as possible. Debt is the quickest path to financial slavery possible and should be accessed extremely selectively. Credit is a huge business, which is why I know that we will need to be proactive in teaching our kids to avoid any unnecessary debt, regardless of how much money financial institutions are trying to throw at them. People who serve money generally fall into two categories: entrapped by greed or slaves to high debt. The dangers of greed will be driven home through many different parenting “opportunities.” We will need to be more intentional in teaching on the dangers of debt. Freedom with little should be valued and esteemed as much more to be desired than much with bondage.
Be generous in giving. Again, money is for a higher purpose than just self-gratification; as is life. Sacrifice and giving are acts of defiance against self-focus and greed. They also do violence to the lie that money is our source of security. I also hope to model giving wisely. I want my children to always give with a clear conscious and from a place of freedom, rather than being manipulated. There will always be much greater need than their ability to meet. I want them to be confident and free in saying no when a particular request or need is not one they feel called to fill. I also want them to feel free to give, even if someone else cannot understand their reasoning. In the end, I want them to embrace that they, and no one else, are accountable for how they manage their resources. They must find peace in their convictions, despite the pressure of others.
Emotions lie (always cross-examine them). As with all of us, my kids will be convinced many times that if they just had [insert just about anything], everything would be so much better. Our emotions are creative in drawing up scenarios of bliss with the latest object or our attention. Gretchen and I looked at a house during our house-hunting days that had both of our emotions playing out endless dreamy days with warm sun and big smiles. If we had bought that house, we would now be slaves to that debt (see above points). Because of home values, we would be stuck with a house that we could not afford. Reality would not be nearly as dreamy as our emotions had made it out to be. We will teach that emotions lie. Realistically, this is a lesson that will actually be learned the hard way, but if we have taught it, our kids will have something to turn to when they inevitably tempt fate and lose. Emotion driven spending decisions must be avoided; not as a form of masochism or unhealthy control, but out of recognition of their sketchy track record.
Never sell your soul. Integrity is worth SO much more than money, which is here today and gone tomorrow. I want to let my kids in on the hard decisions that we make. Come tax time, whether I agree with the government or not, I’ll teach my kids the importance of being honest, even when it would be easy to cut corners and “save” some money. One of my big convictions is that I do not want any money that is rightfully someone else’s. Whatever wealth I am blessed with, I want to come by honestly, with my integrity, and my soul, still intact. This is a value I want to pass on to my kids, Again, this deals with the role of money and its value. We will either see it as more or less valuable than integrity, honor, humility, generosity, freedom, etc. I hope that my kids see it as garbage in comparison to these other things. If so, they can be trusted with money in small or great quantities.
If my children are to learn these things, it will be through the marriage of demonstrated behavior and intentional instruction. These are all huge, life-encompassing lessons. They will be communicated most strongly by our actions (or lack thereof). But intentional instruction is an indispensable sidekick. Instruction will never trump demonstrated behavior, but it can greatly enforce it.
What do you most want to pass on to your kids regarding money?
This post was linked to The Homestead Barn Hop at The Prairie Homestead, The Homesteader Blog Carnival at The Morristribe, Welcome Home Link Up at Raising Arrows, Better Mom Mondays at The Better Mom, Titus 2 Tuesdays at Cornerstone Confessions, WLWW at Women Living Well, Simple Lives Thursday at Gnowfglins, Your Green Resource at Live Renewed, Frugal Friday at Life As Mom