Published October 26, 2006
GAINESVILLE (BP) — The chaotic financial situation produced by the indebtedness of American families makes one wonder what might become of the children of our next generation. The Bible directs us to “teach a youth about the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). But, where does a parent begin?
The same principles that God establishes for parents, the parents should pass along to their children. Sadly, too many Christian parents are unaware of God’s biblical principles. You could begin with three that apply both to parents and to children.
Teach by example that God owns it all. Parents must demonstrate their willingness to put aside indulgences in order to meet the needs of the family and others. Parents should let their children see them pray for God’s provision for material needs and let the children know that borrowing is not God’s best for the family. Parents must show by example that the tithe is the first thing that faithfully comes out of every paycheck.
Exercise self-control. Share the family budgets with children so they see how mom and dad save money to buy clothes, repair the car, buy Christmas and birthday presents, and take vacations. Teach and practice moderation.
Live on a budget. No matter what the family income is, a budget is needed. Begin at an early age teaching children how to manage their money and how to divide it into different parts.
Everyone in the family should share in the opportunities, responsibilities, rewards, and income of that family. As part of the family, give children certain household duties for which they are not paid, such as cleaning their rooms, doing dishes, and picking up toys.
However, for children to learn the value of money they need to have an income, and many parents choose to give their children an allowance. It should be large enough that the children look forward to receiving it, but not so large that it takes care of all wants and needs. And, just as parents receive raises at work, children also should receive allowance raises.
In addition to allowances, parents should provide paying jobs for their children. These might include lawn mowing, garden weeding, garage cleaning, and so on.
Life isn’t fair, but ...
Parents must be fair – and also firm, insisting that their children observe some simple rules.
Pay children only for jobs completed. The one who works his land will have plenty of food, but whoever chases fantasies lacks sense, (Prov. 12:11). To learn the value of being paid for work done, parents should not pay children unless the work they agreed to do has been completed. In other words, don’t pay 50 percent for 50 percent of work completed. Reward exceptional work with bonuses.
Pay children for quality work. “Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men” (Col. 3:23). Children should understand that they will be paid for work well done. This work doesn’t have to be done perfectly, but children should take pride in their accomplishments.
In addition to their tithes, encourage children to share and set aside a portion of their wages to give to missions, the poor, or to other worthy causes.
Encourage children to save. “Precious treasure and oil are in the dwelling of the wise, but a foolish man consumes them” (Prov. 21:20). Discourage debt by encouraging saving. Teach your children to save instead of using your credit card to buy the things they want.
Establish ground rules on receiving and spending. These rules cannot be too restrictive, because parents should want their children to experience the freedom of spending their money on what they want to buy. And, this also gives them room to make occasional purchasing mistakes – mistakes they can learn from later.
As a parent, your goal should be to develop financial discipline and wisdom in your child. It doesn’t happen overnight. But with consistency, the seeds of responsibility that you sow will take root in the lives of your children and yield positive results in their financial future.
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