February 15, 2018
As a parent of young boys, I struggle with knowing how to teach our children about money. My husband and I wrestle with parenting through financial questions such as: Should I pay allowance? If so, then when? How much? Do I want them to “earn” money, or should I give it to them without any conditions? By God’s grace, we discovered that a small roadside stand would turn into a wonderful opportunity to teach them about currency, tithing, saving, and spending.
Last summer, our oldest two boys (then 6 and 4 years old) set up a produce stand selling fruits and vegetables from our garden. This began quite naturally when we had an abundance of produce, and the boys wanted to make some money. They had dollar signs in their eyes as they dreamed of Lego Star Wars sets and Nerf dart guns. So they painted signs while I helped them determine a pricing list, and we sat in the hot sun for a couple Saturday mornings in July.
This simple business venture began natural conversations with my sons about money. When customers purchased the produce, they learned about currency and how to make change. We counted the money at the end of the day, and the boys were amazed at all that was earned. We quickly turned the conversation to teach them that all we have belongs to the Lord, and He entrusts us with it. This biblical principle was met with varying degrees of acceptance.
When the boys went to church the next day, they brought their tithe from the earnings. One of my sons’ teachers at church said my son was so proud to place his few dollars in the offering dish. Our other son struggled to part ways with “his” money.
In addition to tithing, we discussed the concepts of spending and saving with the boys. We celebrated their hard work by “paying” them each a few dollars and taking them to the Dollar Store where they could buy whatever they wanted. The bulk of the money was saved for a later time. My husband and I wanted them to experience delayed gratification and to “struggle” with financial choices.
Although all of my parenting questions about money were not answered, God naturally provided a way for my husband and I to introduce money and stewardship foundations to my children. And much to my surprise, the lessons were not forced or painful for a few reasons: 1) the boys were self-motivated to earn money; 2) they were a part of the planning and execution; and 3) we used an existing interest of our family (gardening) to introduce these concepts. I know the boys actually enjoyed the experience, because they cannot wait to open their produce stand again this summer!
Written by Leslie Melby, volunteer writer for the Summit Stewardship and Generosity Ministry.
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