"What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
As with so many other aspects of parenting, the most important tool for teaching children about money is example. Parents in flourishing wealthy families are consciously aware of the values they convey. They do their best to live those values from day to day. They model stewardship, responsibility, and restraint in their own lives.
At the same time, they understand the importance of intentional teaching. In legacy families that are successful in transferring wealth in healthy ways, parents take an active role in teaching children how to manage wealth responsibly. They don't take for granted that growing up wealthy means children will learn how to live comfortably with money. They see the necessity for consciously helping their children build empowered relationships with money.
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Intentional financial parenting requires time, effort, and attention. It also requires the flexibility and knowledge to teach kids in ways that are appropriate to their ages and their individual needs. Some of the components of strong financial parenting are:
- Building a healthy, empowered relationship with money yourself.
- Taking advantage of opportunities to teach children basic money skills.
- Setting an example of gratitude, appreciation, and restraint.
- Teaching kids how to guard against resentment, envy, and false "friends" who will exploit them for what they have rather than enjoy them for who they are.
- Understanding that emotional support and financial support are often not the same thing.
- Involving kids in the family's social mission.
Financial parenting is just one of many challenges that make being a parent so difficult. Yet, when we see kids developing their abilities, making responsible choices about their money, and giving back with genuine gratitude, it's worth every bit of effort we give it.
Over the years, I have worked with many successful people who have accomplished a great deal. They have built businesses from scratch, been inventors and innovators, used their talents in significant ways, and been recognized as leaders in their careers and their communities. Yet when I talk with them, they often say something similar to this: "What I take the most pride in in my life is my family. Being a parent is the most difficult and most important things I do. It's also one of the most rewarding" (58-60).
For more about SMI Faculty member, Courtney Pullen, visit http://pullenconsulting.com/courtney-pullen-ma/