This article is part of the MH4C Writers Challenge. Since I’m taking a little break over the next few weeks, I’ve chosen ten guest articles to feature on this blog. I’d like to see which articles you like the most. If you like an article, please take a moment to ‘Like’ it on Facebook, ‘Tweet’ it, or give it a ‘Plus One’ on Google +. (To the right of the title, you’ll see each of those buttons so it should make your job easier.) The winner of the MH4C Writers Challenge is the article that has the most social media shares.
The following entry is by Wes Smith. Wes lives in Houston with his wife and two sons (ages 15 and 11).
We recently gave our 11 year old son $60 for his birthday (instead of the iPod he asked for). We decided to give him cash and let him save his allowance and combine with other cash gifts to get the iPod of his choice. He then requested permission to search eBay for a used iPod. With our supervision, he searched eBay, found a used one with a very small crack in the display, and bid on it. He won it for $47.
This is just his latest act of surprising us with his knowledge of money and finances. He has always very quickly grasped money, savings accounts, and interest payments and understands that one must work in order to earn money. Hearing this, you may think we have done a good job of teaching him about money. But that is not all we want to teach our children about money, and we do need to teach them as children. We also want to teach the right attitude about money.
Deuteronomy 6:7 tells us to “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” This verse is referring to God’s commands and includes how to handle our finances. When we have a doubt about what to do with our children, we frequently refer to Deuteronomy 6:7. How can we teach them all the time?
When my son was 3 years old, we went to see one of the Toy Story Movies. The lady at the ticket counter asked me how old he was and I answered truthfully that he was 3 years old. She asked me again and reminded me children 2 and under are free, I repeated he was 3 years old. We still follow the same principle at the buffet line when they ask their ages. We are attempting to teach our sons the principles in Matthew 5:37 to be truthful in all of our dealings.
Genesis 2:15 tells us, “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” Work has always been part of life. As our children have grown, we have to remind ourselves to include them in work. Sometimes it is easier to put away the dishes ourselves, than to go through teaching the kids how to do it (why is the measuring cup in the silverware drawer?). Our oldest son does a great job mowing the yard but it took several tries for him to learn.
While it is important to teach children to work for money, it is also important to teach them there are other reasons to work hard. We have always wrestled with the concept of allowance. Is it to pay them for their work or to share with them the resources of the family? Their chores are their responsibilities as members of our family and by working together, our family can get all the chores accomplished. As a member of our family, part of their share of the resources is an allowance.
In Acts 3 we learn of how the believers shared their possessions and took care of each other. We want to teach our children the same. Several years ago I had knee surgery and needed help mowing my yard (my sons were too young). A friend brought his teenage sons to our home and mowed the yard; he would not allow me to pay the boys. He was teaching his sons to care for others and part of this care can involve hard work.
By taking our kids to places that need work as service, we are following the advice in Deuteronomy (teaching our children) and serving the way God desires. There are many opportunities for kids to work and serve; we just have to be patient enough to teach them.
Giving is key part of any teaching for children. They can give part of their allowance to the contribution on Sunday or special contributions. When we give away clothes or toys the boys have outgrown, we discuss with them this is not sacrificial giving. It is good to do but it is not a sacrifice to give away a toy that you have outgrown. Sacrifice is giving something up, our time, money, or items we still want, to others in need.
While my sons have shown a strong grasp of financial principles, these are merely tools they can use to glorify God. We strive to teach them to work hard, be honest, to give sacrificially, and honor God first in all they do.