Anyone who has been a parent knows that their children watch them constantly. Kids learn everything they need to know about the world from their parents. Although children learn for hours each day at school they learn a great deal more at home with their parents. This includes both the things that you teach your children directly and the things that they observe you doing. If the two are out of sync your child will recognize this and point it out. The hypocrisy of parents is often the hypocrisy of their children. You can’t blame someone for mimicking their parents.
One of the topics that we need to teach our children about is money. Like anything else we teach our children, money is a subject that kids come to understand by watching their parents. We are constantly sending them important messages about how to think and feel about money. When we save well and record our expenditures and income, our kids are much more likely to do the same. When we spend our money impulsively and don’t watch where our money goes, our children tend to do the same. There is no hard and fast rule that says that you have to do things the ways your parents did them, but the odds are pretty good that you will do as your parents did.
Here are some good messages to convey to your children about money:
1. Saving is the most important thing. If you save and provide for your child’s education you will send them a very positive message. They will learn that saving and appropriate expenditures lead to a better life. Help your children to start saving at a young age and show them how to do it.
2. Keep close track of your money. Show your children your checkbook and the records that you keep. Show them that you keep very close track of every expenditure. If you have a written budget show it to them so that they can see how carefully you distribute your money. This will help them appreciate all that you have done for them and continue to do. It will also show them that money has to be carefully budgeted and tracked.
3. Avoid speaking, arguing or otherwise stressing about money. When you feel distressed about money your children feel the same way. General anxiety about money can be transferred from one generation to the next. While you don’t want your children worrying obsessively about money, they need to understand how important it is. In order to avoid this type of anxiety, do not speak or argue about money in front of your children.
4. Teach your children that money is not everything. Parents who spend all of their time and energy trying to make money communicate the same sort of obsession to their children. The best way to avoid this problem is to spend time focused on things other than growing your bank account. You can also verbally remind yourself and your children of the more important things in life such as family and friends.
Make teaching your children good money habits a priority. Talk with your spouse or partner about how best to do so. As with any other mistake, correct your children when they make mistakes with their money. Provide a positive example and encouragement and you will see positive money habits from your children.