Your children will learn how to manage money—either from you, or the world. You can choose to teach your children, or advertising and the media will be happy to do the job for you. You need to be very pro-active. Here are some of the techniques we have used in our home for children ages 2-13 and for ages 14-18.
Guidelines for ages 2-13
• Set job paying rules. Don't give allowances. Pay commissions. But, not everything deserves a commission. For example, our children do some things around the house just because they are members of the family. Don't talk to me about getting paid for making your bed, cleaning up your room or taking out the garbage. However, we do give our children opportunities to take part in some revenue producing activities such as mowing the yard, washing the car, grooming the family pets, etc. We don't pay anything for incomplete, untimely, or poorly completed jobs. Our children need to learn from us the relationship between work and reward.
• Be consistent. James said that a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways. One of the worst things you can do for your children is to fail to provide consistency in their lives. Set some rules then stick to them. However, if the rules need to change—change them.
• Be fair. Ephesians 6:4 talks about not provoking your children. Being unfair provokes your children.
• Be flexible. You need to remember that things that work with one child may not work with another. You need to understand your child's personality type and learn how to deal with that type.
• Be disciplined. Proverbs 15:32 says, "He who ignores discipline despises himself." In order to discipline your children, you must be disciplined yourself. This means taking pains to see that when rules are established, they're enforced. And, you need to lead by example—it's hard for your children to see the need for a clean bedroom when the rest of the house is a mess.
• Lastly, be calm. My experience is that effective parents are the ones who remain clam in the face of all circumstances and don't let the children get them flustered and upset.
Guidelines for ages 2-13
• They need help in the same areas where you failed. They need to learn how to balance a checkbook, or buy a car, home and insurance. You need to carefully instruct them on the danger of credit—especially credit cards. When you have your finances under control, why not let them help you pay the bills, enter figures into the budget book, and help balance YOUR checkbook.
• They need educational and vocational direction (consider the "Career Direct" package from Crown ministries at www.crown.org). Proverbs 22:29 teaches us, "Do you see a man skilled in his work? He shall stand before Kings and authorities. He shall not stand before obscure men." Skills and abilities are defenses against layoffs—not foolproof, but they sure are better than most anything else.
• I strongly recommend a good pre-marital counseling program with your pastor or a Christian counselor. Naturally, that counseling needs to dig deep into the pre-ceremony budget ("yours" and "mine") and the anticipated post-ceremony budget ("ours"). The problem is that few pre-marital counselors are trained to dig into the financial areas. This is where Christian Financial Ministries (www.good-steward.org), the Dave Ramsey (www.daveramsey.com), or Crown Ministries (www.crown.org) can help. I also strongly recommend that each newly-wed couple meet at least quarterly (for at least one year) with the pastor/counselor who provided the pre-marital counseling. It's after the ceremony that most couples really need help with communications, finances, etc.
One final word:
We as parents often yield to undisciplined children to receive some short-term peace. We need to recognize that a disciplined child of any age expects very little and rarely demands anything. However, an undisciplined child forcefully demands more and is rarely satisfied. Why? Possessions have little lasting value, and "more " is always required to satisfy. We as parents must accept the responsibility of sometimes withholding in the short run in order for discipline to be ingrained in the long run. Sometimes, "less is more."
Bob Louder is the Founder and President of Christian Financial Ministries (www.good-steward.org). Bob is also the author of the new best selling book, "Debt Free Living God's Way," available only on the Internet (www.debtfreelivinggodsway.org). Since 1987 Bob has helped people in hundreds of churches all across the country and in the European military community learn, understand, apply and pass on "Debt Free Living God's Way" principles and practical applications. He has represented some of the top Christian financial authors and ministries to include Larry Burkett, Dave Ramsey, Christian Financial Concepts, and Crown Ministries.
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