If there is anything that had a powerful effect on how I handled money, it was becoming a parent. When are the stakes ever higher than when your decisions and actions directly influence the most precious people in your life? The irony is, I learn just as much from my kids as they do from me. That is why I’ve put together a list of ways parenthood will teach you about money.
4 Ways Parenthood Will Teach You About Money
If you already have kids, then you know the truth: We appear to the world as teachers, but when it comes to life with kids, we’re students.
- Problem solving
- Intentional living
- The ABC’s according to Dr. Seuss
- Mending ailments
- How to communicate feelings
- How to talk your child out of watching anymore Caillou
It’s arguable that every financial decision can affect our children, too. So, here are a few pretty significant examples.
1. Your financial decisions have consequences.
We all know that consequences follow us right out of that department store or gas station or casino. When kids come into the picture, those consequences are amplified.
For example, putting your own future at stake by taking out a second mortgage, maxing out your credit cards, and defaulting on your car loan just after you lost your job might come with some heavy consequences. Think of how much heavier those are when there are children under your roof!
Conversely, when you spend a lifetime training your children how to prepare for things like job loss, life transitions, and other emergencies, you benefit from the positive consequences: Children who become financially responsible adults who will probably avoid a great deal of heartache and financial stress.
2. Your kids are your built-in accountability for every good and bad habit.
Not to make it “all or nothing,” but if you have children under your roof, you’re either modeling good habits or bad ones.
Kids are sponges. What will they soak up when they’re around you? Grumbling about a job? Tearing down a spouse instead of building him or her up when conflicts arise? Using coupons and the power of “No” in the grocery store? Giving to charities as a way of making the world a better place?
What you say and do with your money is mostly on display for your kids like a live stream with no stop button. If there is anything that parenthood has taught me, it’s that mom and dad are a big deal to their kids. Dare I say it…our kids want to be like us. What could be more terrifying. And yet, gratifying.
3. There is life after a mess up.
I recently discovered that my 3-year-old wrestles with perfectionism. It twists my heart into knots watching her be so negative about herself.
She wants so badly to do things on her own – to be a big girl. That internal drive is healthy and pushes her to try new things all the time. But sometimes she expects perfection and feels devastated when it doesn’t happen.
The other day, I watched my child attempt to tie a bow – something we’ve not even begun to teach her. She turned the ribbons around themselves in a few directions, furrowing her brow as if the ribbons were faulty for not magically forming a knot on their own.
Her frustration grew, but she never looked up and asked me for help.
Finally, she dropped her ribbons, put her head in her hands and said with a sigh, “I can’t do it. I’ll never get it. Why can’t I be perfect?”
Asking a little too much of herself?
And yet, how many times have you thought those things of yourself? If you’re like me, financial blunders knock you down a few notches and you think, So and So never struggles with this, but I do all the time. Why can’t I just do right the first time? I’ll never be successful.
When does the negative self-talk flare up in you?
- Perhaps it’s that day in and day out struggle as you battle debt.
- Maybe you can’t have the same shiny stuff as your friends right now.
- Or could it be the ongoing stress of living paycheck to paycheck?
Parenthood will teach you about money just like my disappointed daughter taught me about how I handle mistakes and limitations.
After I watch my daughter throw up her arms in defeat and begin verbally tearing herself to pieces, the mama bear in me jumped in to protect her.
I looked at my little girl and said, “No one expects you to be perfect. I’ll never ask that of you, and you shouldn’t either. All I want is for you to try your best.”
The first time I spoke these words to her, I realized I should have been looking in the mirror.
We don’t always know what we need until our kids need it first.
4. Teaching kids responsibility teaches you responsibility.
Are your kids old enough to make their own beds? Clean up their toys? Get paid to fold laundry? Get their first summer job?
At any phase of responsibility, you’ll be on the front lines with your child. Every conversation and schedule and discipline give you a chance to grow in your own disciplines and habits.
For example, if you start paying your children for chores, that will lead to discussions about your own line of work, how you get paid, what you do, etc.
When you begin walking along side your kids as they begin saving, spending and giving, they’ll start asking how you save, spend and give.
They’ll need accountability, much like a friend who asks you to be a running partner. He may be receiving the benefit of accountability as he trains for that next mini-marathon, but if you’re running right along with him, you get exercise, too.
So it is with being a “running partner” for your children.
Every family is different. However, it really is amazing how parenthood will teach you about money, life, and relationships, in your own family, a little each day.