I hope that our son will take the time to read these posts when he’s older. And maybe, just maybe, he’ll remember some of the examples I’m going to share in this one. He’s made his mom and me really proud lately.
We spent a few days with my parents during the July 4th holiday and, while we were there, my dad told me a story about something our son said while he was with them alone for a few days of “grandparent camp” before we arrived. On one of the days before we got there, my dad commented that it was time for some new pool rafts. Our son asked what he planned to do with the old ones (the spongy foam variety), and dad told them he’d probably put them with the trash at the street for disposal.
The beautiful thing about our son’s reaction to this is that he envisioned a different outcome for the rafts. “Why don’t you donate them to the homeless?” he asked. “They could use them for a bed!” I think it stopped my dad in his tracks, and made him realize that this was, in fact, a great idea! I must admit that a bed or the homeless would not have been my first thought either, but I love where his head (and heart) were with that comment!
Our son had a friend over to play recently and, while his friend was here, I used the opportunity to ask them if they understood why it’s important to learn about money and how to be smart with money. While his friend said that he didn’t really know much about it, our son was quick to answer that it’s important to make sure to save money so you can afford a car, a house, and college.
We’ve been using our version of the “three-jar method” for a while now, and he’s had the opportunity to see me working with students this summer, so I’m glad to know that it’s sinking in a little bit for him. With every class I teach, and every student I meet, I’m more and more convinced that it is never too early to begin teaching your children the importance of financial literacy. Our children possess more of one key ingredient to financial success than you and I have at this point: time. And time is the key factor in compound interest!
If you’re not sure where to start with your own children, send me an email and I’ll be happy to help you out!
Admitting a poor decision
We’ve made it clear to our son that we will never punish him for admitting when he did something wrong. There might be consequences, depending on the severity of what happened, but he’ll never be reprimanded for coming forward.
This past weekend, we went to the pool with a couple of other families. As we waited for the pool to reopen after a weather closure, our son approached us and said his stomach hurt. We asked him if he’d eaten too much, but he said that was not the case and went on his way. A few minutes later he returned and, with misty eyes, said “I have the truth.” This certainly got our attention. Come to find out, he’d gotten himself involved with something he shouldn’t have, and he knew it, and that’s what led to the tummy ache.
We’d heard the details of what happened from another dad, but the fact that he voluntarily came to us after the boys had gotten in trouble was all that mattered.
As I wrote in a prior post, I feel that it’s our job as parents to help our children develop into productive members of society, so that they may have a positive impact on the world. I can assure you that there are plenty of days where we wonder if it’s going in one ear and out the other, wondering if we’re being good parents, or whatever.
To the rest of the parents out there, also unsure if your guidance will ever pay off: I’m confident that the little ears are hearing it and their minds are absorbing it. Most importantly, though, their eyes are seeing it all, so show them the values you’re trying to instill; don’t just tell them. “Do as I say, not as I do” really doesn’t work as well as we might hope.
The way in which you want to convey your values is up to you, but remember that you have an audience. Sure, they may pick up some bad habits from friends, but they’re just as likely to take the positive things you model as well.