Whether we realize it or not we teach our children about money every day. Sometimes we teach with words and sometimes with actions. I’m sure at one time or another the following scenario as happened to you or something close to it: “Mom, can we go buy some toys?” You say, “We don’t have the money for that right now.” Your children reply, “Just go to the ATM and get the money.” You then make a comment to the effect, “There has to be money in my account in order to get money from the ATM.” I still remember the first time I had that conversation and my children’s jaws dropped. It never occurred to them that you had to have money in order to get money out of the ATM machine. They just saw the ATM as the cash machine – Free money. Don’t we all wish that was true!
Let me share with you another conversation we had in my house. We were giving out allowances and we always give it to them in change, so they can take their offering to church. My son said, “Why, do we give money to church anyway?” My daughter quickly piped up, “Because, the Bible tells us to.” She is accurate that the Bible instructs us to give to church, but there is a better explanation. (For the record, I don’t like using because the Bible says so – we need to teach our children about the reasons God gives us instructions and His promises in the Bible.) We give money to church, because God owns everything anyway. All that we have has been given to us from Him and He owns it all. We are only giving a small portion back to thank Him for the bounty He has given us. So, we give the church a praise offering for what God has graciously given us.
Many people have different views about money. Some don’t want to tell their children anything about how much they make and how they pay bills. They don’t want their children to know that and see that as private. Some people give their children way too much information and then children worry if things are tight. I think there is a middle ground. How are children going to learn to spend money wisely if we don’t show them? I think it is important for you to share with children how things were in the lean years of your family. That may be right now. Many children today, when they become adults, want to start out where their parents ended up. They don’t see all the difficult times that led up to where their parents are now. Share with your children in age appropriate ways how to spend and save money. Teach your children how to compare prices and shop for a bargain. I have seen many teenagers over the years and I’m amazed when they start spending their own money for clothing all the sudden Wal-Mart doesn’t look so bad anymore, instead of the high priced stores they want parents to spend their money.
In conclusion, what and how are you teaching your children about money? Do they know that God is in control? Do they see you giving to church? Do they even know how bills are paid? Maybe you are saying, “I have been a poor manager of money, who am I to teach them?” We are all learning and God is gracious to help us when we make mistakes. He can help you know what to say and how to teach your children about money. Ask God to help you manage your money wisely and set a good example for your children.
Kimberly M. Chastain, MS, LMFT is the Christian Working Mom Coach and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She is the author of 2 ebooks, Pearls of Encouragement for Christian Working Moms and Help! My Preteen/Teenager is Driving me Nuts. You can find both of those books at www.christianworkingmom.com. Also, check out her blog and Online Bible Study as well. You can have coaching tips delivered to your email box daily, find out more at http://www.kimberlychastain.com/cwmtips.htm.
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