Research indicates that overindulgence (materialistically) creates unrealistic expectations among modern teens that may lead to a lifelong habit of overspending. Not surprisingly, when teens grow accustomed to getting everything they want right now from their parents, entering into adulthood and taking full responsibility for themselves financially is difficult. How so? Because they continue to want new gadgets and luxuries that they cannot possibly pay for on their own, but they have not learned how to wait and budget and save. Researchers blame parents who overspend on their children as a chief cause in kids growing up and quickly finding themselves out of control financially. What can parents do to raise kids who are responsible with money?
1. Teach your children the value of delayed gratification.
Studies have shown that when given a choice between an immediate reward and a better one a little later, children who could wait grew to be adults who were more confident, effective, assertive, and dependable. They also were better able to delay gratification in pursuit of their goals than the adults who couldn't resist the temptation of the immediate reward when they were children. If your child is naturally impulsive, he will be that way as an adult too--if you don't take steps to train him otherwise.
2. Teach your children through daily experiences.
The Bible encourages teaching God's word to children when you're sitting at home, when you're walking, when you get ready for bed, and when you get up in the morning (cf. Deut. 6:7). Essentially, we should be teaching them and helping them to mature in all aspects of daily life. This includes providing instruction regarding money. Weekly shopping trips offer opportunities to teach children about everything from budgeting to making tradeoffs. Involve them in the process, helping them to distinguish between needs and wants. Teach them to establish--and stick to--a budget.
3. Make it real.
Surprisingly, surveys reveal that less than one-third of children get a specific allowance each week. Children need hands-on experience; let them manage real money on their own. A modest allowance is a good way for them to get practice. Will they make mistakes with money? Indeed they will. But, it is much better for them to learn from their mistakes at an earlier age when the stakes are less than it is to learn the same lesson when they're older when much more money is involved. When children want something, help them make a plan as to how they could save their allowance to buy it. This helps them learn patience and gives them a better sense of what something really costs. Additionally, it gives them a better appreciation for the item once they actually can afford to buy it and make it their own. They're more likely to take care of something that cost them dearly (i.e., weeks or months of saving) as opposed to something given to them.
4. Be the marketing gatekeeper.
Marketers have been successful at influencing children largely because parents are granting them direct access, with TVs and computers commonplace in children's rooms. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation report, 26 percent of 2- to 4-year-olds and 39 percent of 5 to 7- year-olds have TVs in their bedrooms. Both groups watch nearly two hours per day. Consider removing TVs and computers from children's rooms. There are a lot better things for kids to be doing than watching tons of commercials that stimulate desire for products they don't need!
5. Be involved.
Successful families are thoughtful and consistent in their rules and choices. They spend a lot of time with their children and offer alternatives to the materialistic activities suggested by corporate America. They proactively teach children how to handle money and how to distinguish between needs and wants. They provide allowances, but they require that a portion of the money be allocated to savings and charity.
And, of course, parents need to walk the talk. Not surprisingly, highly materialistic kids are more likely to have highly materialistic parents. Preaching lessons on restraint are unlikely to connect if the parents' closets are stuffed with the latest fashions and a typical family outing involves a trip to the mall.
Dear friends, may we think on these things and do the best we can in raising responsible, God-fearing children.