Teaching kids about money through a gospel lens is is something I am still working on figuring out. Our daughters 7 and 5 are still learning how to count money let alone spend it. However, I want them to understand early how money plays a role in our life. I want them to see Christ as sufficient and to not think money will fulfill their life. It shouldn’t be that hard right?
But, as I researched some articles to write this I discovered something. Most of the articles I found from big time Christian resources were no different the advice you would read from secular sources: Teach them to save early, teach them how interest works against you, make them earn their money so they understand the value of it and show them how to spend it properly. The only thing that set them apart from secular resources was talk of the tithe.
In their book Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson say, and I am paraphrasing because for the life of me I can’t find the quote, “If your parenting isn’t any different than a Jew, Muslim or a moral humanist you are not parenting as a Christian.” We can have all the steps and rules we want when it comes to our money and we will only create little pharisees. Our parenting, in every way, should always call us back to the cross and the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Honestly, I started to write this article as a to-do list just like the ones I read.. That is why I was so irritated by what I found when doing my research. There are already tons of those articles out there here are a couple:
But, like so many of our sermons these articles assume the gospel instead of preaching it. The gospel calls us to give as we have been freely given. I believe the gospel calls us not to be selfish with out money. The Gospel calls us to give what we have cheerfully and sacrificially. The Gospel calls us to make Jesus the center of our life and live like he is completely sufficient. The question is how to do instill those principles in our children when we are living like it isn’t true. We work hard to get more to keep up with our neighbors and perhaps to give more but only to “sanctify the rest” so we can feel good about spending it however WE want.
Even by following a list of to-do’s, like the ones above, we need to be careful that we are not teaching our children to rely solely on their own wisdom to provide for all their needs, lest when financial trouble befall them they blame God because they feel like they followed all “His rules” and it didn’t work. Then God becomes a liar in their eyes because they equate good financial advice with the gospel.
Those of us who sinfully find our security in money love to look at the book of Acts and brush off the “socialist” lifestyle they lived as being simply a description of how they lived and not instructional as to how Christians are to live. However, giving statistics of Christians bear out that we have a lot to learn from those in the early church.
Maybe I will write a list of ideas on the practical side later because I do believe there is a need for that , right now I feel like the church needs to turn its eyes back on the cross when it comes to money. I know I do.
Last week I started to write a nice simple article about kids and money. That article ended up more about our relationship with money and less of a “how to”. You can read it here. So, this week I will try again.
Teaching your children about money is an incredibly important. Many of us grew up in homes without formal training on money. Without an example from our own parents what we end up teaching our kids by our example. Your kids will pick up on the way you think about money, good and bad. We should try to teach our children good habits and how to think about money.
Here are some topics to think about when it comes to kids and money:
Early on we got divided piggy banks for our girls. This hopefully teaches them that their money is for different things: savings, giving and spending. We help them divide up their money as they get it so they will understand what each different section is for. Setting that money aside to give makes them excited to give when the need arises. They have offered to buy gifts for the girls we sponsor through Compassion international. This is the type of thing we hoped for when we started training them with money.
By doing this now we hope that it will be more natural to them and that they will not be so “possessed by their possessions” money will simply be a tool at their disposal to use for God’s purposes and not something to be hoarded and lusted after…hopefully.
This is a big question: Should you give an allowance to your children, no strings attached or make your children earn their money? I have seen a lot of good articles on both sides and I have seen families that I love and respect do it both ways to great success so I don’t actually know that I can offer much wisdom on this topic, but to know your own children. Each of these methods can have different effects on children and you will have to watch and learn and even perhaps change your own views on what is best based on how your children learn.
We have always had chores for our children to earn money. We currently use the Accountable Kids chore system and it has helped our girls not only to get all their chores done, but to start to learn how to relate an amount of work to the things they want to buy. It has worked for us but we are by no means under the impression that is a perfect system. We are thinking about combining those chores with a standard rate allowance to give them an idea of how to budget with a standard income.
I have know of families where the kids had to buy ALL of their own things, clothes, food, toys everything. These kids worked hard and were paid well for their work and they were expected to spend that money on necessities and luxuries. I have also known families who gave their kids money and never gave them the opportunity to spend it. Then how do you help them to spend it wisely? Do you let them waste it on cheap toys that they will break or lose in days? (Yes, it is what they really want right now but it is stupid!)
I think there needs to be some sort of balance here but I don’t claim to know the right answer. I bring it up more as food for thought.
I would love to hear opinions on any of these topics drop a comment below on how you handle these issues with your kids or how you think you should.
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