Whether rich or poor, it is the wish of every parent to raise up children who will grow up to be financially stable and able to meet their financial goals and obligations. Being wealthy does not mean having a fat bank account or owning many luxuries such as cars and clothes. It means having enough money to meet your personal needs, share with others and be fulfilled and happy. As a parent, you should raise children grounded on good money values. You do this by setting a good example.
Just as you learn to value yourself financially and build your own wealth, you can raise your children to be wealthy as well. But of course, a parent’s first responsibility is to raise healthy and happy children and wealth probably comes far down the list of what you wish for your children. But wouldn’t you want your children to be highly educated, travel the world, be able to explore various hobbies, live comfortably and contribute to society?
There is no doubt that every parent wants their children to be able to maximise their potential, enjoy their lives, and leave this world in a slightly better shape than they found it. All these things imply that your children will earn enough or have enough money to live life in something other than survival mode – struggling each day of their life to make ends meet. Most parents will not want their children to live below the poverty line, or live in unsafe neighbourhoods because they can’t afford to live in a good area, worry about paying bills and supporting their own family, and never be able to lift themselves above a minimum-wage lifestyle.
As a parent you can inspire your children to be what you dream of them growing up to be. You can instill in children, from and early age, values that inspire them to live out their highest potential. This maximises their chances of becoming wealthy and achieving adults. Many people have spent years trying to undo negative messages they received in their childhood and you would not want to repeat this mistake with your children.
Today, most parents are much more aware of the psychological cost of discouraging children to reach their potential. Parents have a golden opportunity to avoid planting negativity into their children and sow thoughts that will programme them for success, happiness, and wealth. This is the lifelong gift you can give to your children, regardless of the financial wealth you have – or don’t have – to pass on to them.
Set a good example…
Setting a good example for those who look up to you is a common piece of advice and is the best and easiest thing that you can do to encourage your children towards financial greatness. Do your children see you embracing work that you love and always eager to face the challenges that the work sends your way? Or do they see you drained, discouraged and resentful? Your attitude towards work will be one of the primary drivers of your children’s attitude towards work when they grow up. If you are always complaining about the work or business you do and how little it pays, or how horrible your boss is, you are transmitting negative messages about work.
However, you don’t have to pretend you like your current work if that is not the case. But you can look at the situation more positively while making efforts to get where you want to be. If you don’t love your current work, are you back in school or training for skills that will open doors to a more satisfying job and a better life? Have you started a business on the side to compliment your salary if the low pay is your major complaint? Or have you started the process of job-hunting so as to get out of your current situation?
If you are doing any of these things and not just complaining, then your children will learn that it is okay to make changes and to seek to improve your working life. If you have a good education and don’t love your work, then don’t expect your children to show much enthusiasm for getting an education, which, in their minds, will only lead to a life of misery like yours.
You should show your children how to be involved, responsible, and enthusiastic stewards of wealth. Your willingness to learn about money, live within a budget, and carefully take responsibility for your finances will speak louder than any lecture you can give to your children or lesson they will learn in school. No matter what you earn, choosing to live responsibly, avoiding debts and financial chaos in your life, and building savings for your future will show your children how to live well. Society and media will teach them how to consume, especially through advertising, so it’s up to you to teach them the value of hard work and the joys of contributing to creating a good life for themselves.
Parents should make financial values explicit to children. Financial education is a process not an event. Children need to see behaviour modeled. They need to hear financial values spoken out loud and repeatedly. They need to be told many times and reminded that saving is essential and sharing is good. They also need to be told that managing their pocket money allowance is expected. And they need regular opportunities to practice financial skills.
Parents who teach their children financial values and messages and practice these on their children in regular, thoughtful ways – whether it’s every day, once a week, once a month, or once a quarter – are doing better than nothing, which is what most parents do. Just do something that portrays positive money messages in a constant way and children will have much greater potential to mature as financially thoughtful, secure adults. They will learn to create their own wealth through hard work and also protect that wealth while sharing what they can with the needy in society.
It is also important to model the work ethics and fiscal responsibilities you want your children to develop. You shouldn’t just say, “ I want my children to have good work ethics,” without being a role model. To have a work ethic, you have to work or at least see people work. It does not mean children have to watch you head off to a conventional work place every day, but showing children what it means to be engaged in purposeful activity whether in the house, in your business, in the garden and so on, is critical. They must grow up knowing that their parents worked diligently to be where they are, and make this their goal.
If you tell your children that they should save money and live within their means, yet you are constantly borrowing money from workmates, banks, friends and family members, then your words will be hollow and have no real impact on them. On the other hand, if you set an example of financial discipline and positive feelings about the possibilities that money brings into your life, then you will set a standard that your children are much more likely to embrace. It is also important to give you children many opportunities to practice making business decisions and investing money before they reach adulthood.
Sometimes there is a problem with children who grow up in wealth. When you grow up in a family of means, it can often be assumed that you automatically learn how to manage money, but this is not always the case. Parents need to set aside the time to not only teach their children, but also share their money values and goals so that their children understand how the choices they make with the human capital and financial resources can impact on their work and their legacy.
Parents of little means also need to be careful not to implant negative messages to their children, especially not give them the impression that they are destined to be poor. Each child has the opportunity to get out of their parent’s situation and excel in whatever they do if they can grow up hearing positive and encouraging messages. There is nothing that says because you are born in a poor family you will die poor.
Published on April 2013