It’s remarkable when as a parent you get to see the fruition of seeds that you’ve planted in your kids begin to come to life in the actions they’re taking. Last weekend one of my best friends visited for a wedding and he noticed the behavior of my girls, and declared to the oldest, “one day you’re going to be a leader.” Her reply? I already am a leader! That’s my girl, I was so proud of her. Sitting at the table, my wife looked over at me and remarked, it’s working! Everyday before they leave the house I have them repeat the following mantra, I am a leader and leaders make good choices. I try to use teachable moments as they arise to reinforce this theme of leadership, and at night we pray for guidance to be a timely leader amongst our peers like Queen Esther. Another such moment occurred yesterday in another area where we’re planting seeds, financial stewardship.
For our family financial stewardship is huge. My wife and I grew up with zero understanding of financial literacy, and as a result we made a number of financial mistakes early on in life and marriage. We graduated with tons of student loan debt (as most people), took on credit card debt early on in our marriage, and generally didn’t develop good financial habits until we had dug ourselves quite a hole. So we started reading years ago, searching for strong mentors in this area, and begin to develop better financial habits which has allowed us to turn things around. For us, this is an area that we want to set a new pattern for our kids and change the generational outlook for our family. And I believe it starts young.
At the beginning of 2016 (January) we started a process to teach our girls the basics of how to think about money using concepts we’d learned in Smart Money, Smart Kids a great book I recommend for parents. We introduced 3 jars with the girls, a save, spend, and share jar. Coincidentally, this month (April) at our church, our oldest daughter is learning about stewardship, specifically stewardship of financial resources (it’s so cool when you’re a part of communities that reinforce your values).
So, imagine my surprise and joy when yesterday Riley came home from church and told us that she wanted to save up her money to buy something special. This prompted a longer discussion between us and her younger sister about why it’s important to save, what that means in terms of short term choices, etc. Still determined, my daughter said she still wanted to save for her special item, so we went online and searched for the best price and then printed out pictures of what each child wanted to save for. Then, Riley started brainstorming ways she can earn more money by doing additional work. She suggested that she hold a garage sale to sell some of her toys she doesn’t play with anymore. She offered to do additional chores (they get a bi-weekly commission of $3 to clean their room and clean the playroom- trying to build an association between doing work and earning money).
When she counted her money thus far, she released that she also had a $20 gift card she’d gotten for her birthday that she also added to her total. By the end of the afternoon she had earned additional money helping to clean out the van and the car. Not to be left out, Olivia wanted to save as well, though since she’s only 3, we could tell that her appetite for waiting was less than Riley’s (she kept asking- is it going to take a long time for this item when we looked at prices online? If it did, she quickly went to another item!). She has a much more manageable goal for herself and she’s also looking forward achieving her goal. Last night both girls slept with their pictures of their special item.
That’s what it’s about folks, my girls are developing the capacity to set a goal and work towards it. I’m excited to see how this all turns out!