The things I need to teach my childrenBy Randell Tiongson
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Answer: I was hoping someone will ask me something about parenting and finance since I really like talking and writing about this topic. A straightforward answer to your question is “at the earliest age possible.” Habits are picked up at a young age, financial habits included. Let me just quote from my blog about this (posted at www.actlikeaman.org).
Here it goes: I became a father at a rather early age, my first child came when I was only 24. My eldest is nearly an adult now and will be turning 21 soon and on her last school year at the university. My next child will be out of college in less than two years but I got two more boys being home schooled at grades 4 and 2.
Like any parent, my kids give my wife and me immense joy—but I need to admit that there are many challenges as well which is why one of the roles a parent, particularly a father, must have is a teacher. While my wife is the academic teacher of my boys, I need to be the ’real-life’ teacher of my kids partnering with my wife.
There are three things that I feel I need to teach my children, in preparation for the real life of some sorts.
1. Teach them to make money.
One of the things I feel a father should teach his children is to be productive and have the ability to be self-sustaining. Generating income is the responsibility of my children; I will never take that responsibility away from them.
As they grow up, they need to learn independence and being able to provide for their needs should be foremost in their priorities. What I can do is help them get started by making wise choices, point them toward a general direction, coach them on how to create and sustain income.
At times, I talk to my kids about my profession, on deals I’m working on and even take them to some meetings. I show my kids what I do for a living and even ask their opinion on professional matters. I also ask them if they want to be entrepreneurial and help them get started.
About a year and a half ago, my two teenage daughters decided to embark on a fashion accessories business with the help of their aunts, my sisters. They thought of their name, logo and even started to work on a business plan. They were able to sell quite a number of fashion accessories but like many youth, their interest didn’t last very long and their business died a natural death.
While the business never really took off, I am confident that there were many lessons they learned from that venture, proof of which is how they now handle school projects that are business-like in nature. I know that I’m not getting any younger as I find myself talking about career options with my daughters lately but I’m glad we have those discussions regularly.
2. Teach them to handle money
Making money and handling money are not really the same. There are many who have no problem creating good income but they still find themselves in financial difficulties. My wife and I have been consistent with the way we have been teaching our kids view and handle money. Lecturing them on the values of savings doesn’t really work so we needed to let them slowly understand how money should be handled. I’ve often reminded my kids about our family’s priorities when it comes to money—food on their table, roof over their heads, education and the basics first before anything.
My wife and I have taken all our kids to toy stores to check on toys but not buy anything until we have saved up properly for it. I actually feel sorry for parents with children who behave poorly whenever they don’t get the toy they want. When it comes to schooling age, the allowance system is a good way to teach them basic money management. Sometimes my kids can save from their meager allowances but at times they spend more than they should—I let them make the mistakes and be firm in not stepping in even if I really want to.
The value of proper spending and savings is one of the best things we can teach our children.
3. Love God above anyone else
During the early stages of our children, us parents are the center of their lives. Kids will do things to please us or spite us and our approval or disapproval plays a big role in their formative years.
However, no matter how we try, we will always make mistakes in the way we raise our kids. Many times in numerous counseling sessions, we notice that a person’s many life issues deal directly with relationships with fathers and mothers. No amount of good intention will cover for some of the mistakes we will commit as a parent.
I’ve had my share of many mistakes and it was only by the grace of God that my kids turned out the way they did. When God is in the center of their lives and they have a strong relationship with Jesus, our roles as parents become easier as the real role of parenting is now being accomplished by the Lord—and the Lord is a much better father than I can ever imagine myself to be. I tell and show my kids that I am just their earthly father and that their real father is the Lord. Their mom and dad are just stewards for the meantime and just like us, they really belong to the Lord. Trust me, a child raised to be God-fearing and God-loving is a child that will eventually conquer the world and change it. Money and faith are something we teach together.
My appeal to the fathers—be serious with our roles and participate in their lives. We are not just providers or disciplinarians at home; we are endowed by the Lord to raise our kids the way He wants us to, in the image of Jesus.
My dear friend Richard Poon once told me that fathers play a special role in us as it is the father who gives identity to a child. With the Lord as the real father, our identity is really from Him.
“Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it.”—Proverbs 22:5, NIV.
(Randell Tiongson is an advocate of life and personal finance, a director of the Registered Financial Planner Institute (Phils). To learn more about personal financial planning, join the Batch 29 RFP Program on Oct. 13-Dec 8. Inquire at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.rfp.ph.)
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