The book The Financially Intelligent Parent: 8 Steps to Raising Successful, Generous, Responsible Children, by Eileen and Jon Gallo, focuses on the idea that the way in which parents spend money sends messages to their children about their values and priorities. It helps you become more aware of the values communicated to children through your spending. It provides some great ideas about how to give children the messages you want them to receive. If you are traveling down this road, here are a few ideas from the book and the Gallos’ blog:
Become a charitable family: Teach your children to be generous through your volunteer activities. If you do service work individually, talk about what you are doing and the people for whom you are doing it. If you can, find opportunities to volunteer as a family. Also, when you get requests for charitable donations, discuss the goals of each charity, and have your children help you decide where to give. By introducing the ideas of service and giving, you can teach your children that they have the power to make life better for others.
Encourage self-motivation: On their blog, the Gallos refer to the book, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. Its author suggests that internally motivated people are happier than those who rely on external motivations. As a result, the Gallos suggest that parents can help their children become happier adults by relying less on external motivators, like paying children to do chores, and more on internal motivators, like using chores as a means of helping children gain self-respect and take pride in their work.
Develop a work ethic: The primary work of most children is school. It is important to encourage them to ‘do their best’ as opposed to ‘be the best.’ In addition to taking responsibility for their schoolwork, children should be assigned age-appropriate chores, and encouraged to take on part-time employment when they get older. A good work ethic is learned behavior, and parents are the best role models.
Your behavior sends clear messages to your children. They learn values by seeing what you spend money on and how you treat others. It’s important to teach children that money is something they have and not something they are. Their net worth and their self-worth are entirely different things.