One way to think about improving your economic parenting is to contemplate what you should stop and what you should start. In your effort to raise financially savvy kids who will know how to handle the difficult economic times in which they will live, let us be bold enough to suggest a short list for each:
What you should stop doing:
Treating your kids as your subjects or your serfs.
Giving them a "handout" allowance.
Buying everything for them and fostering their sense of entitlement.
Bailing them out every time they make a financial mistake.
Paying any attention at all when they tell you what their friends get.
Paying all of their college expenses.
What you should start doing:
Giving your children real equity in your family via more participation and choice.
Creating a "family economy" that teaches them to earn, budget, save and give;
and that allows them to have control of more money than an allowance;
so that they can buy all of their personal "stuff" and most of their clothes;
and make more of their own choices at earlier ages;
and perceive real ownership of their money, toys and clothes.
A "family economy" is the most natural thing in the world. After all, the family is the basic unit of our society's economy; and the original meaning of the word "economy" (oikos/nomos) is "the law of the house."
This whole new way of dealing with money and material possessions is a gateway to understanding the myth-busting and liberating new parenting metaphor of ownership.
There are all kinds of behavior-modifying parenting techniques that we can learn and then practice on our children, but it is like hacking away at the leaves of the problem. What we need to do is to start working on the root, and the root is all about what our children feel that they own.
What all parents seem to want for their kids is for them to have less stuff … but to really perceive ownership of the stuff they do have.
The problem is that so many families today operate a little too much like the government … so parenting starts to be all about bailouts, entitlement and impressing the voters (the kids).?What we need to do instead is be all about individual responsibility, and we won't get to that until our kids begin to feel some real ownership.
So instead, set up some simple jobs or tasks that kids are expected to do each day, and create a peg board or a chart or a computer program that lets them keep track of what they do.
Then on Saturday, have a "pay day" where how much money they get is directly proportional to how many of their chores they remembered and completed. They will then perceive ownership of their earned money.
Stop buying toys or gadgets for them. Let them choose and buy their own with their own money. For additional suggestions on how to do this go to www.valuesparenting.com and click "Family Economy" on the left.
You will be well on your way to developing financially savvy kids!
The Eyres' next book is "The Entitlement Trap: How to Rescue Your Child With a New Family System of Choosing, Earning, and Ownership." Richard and Linda are New York Times No. 1 best-selling authors who lecture throughout the world on family-related topics. Visit the Eyres anytime at www.TheEyres.com. For information on preordering "The Entitlement Trap," see www.valuesparenting.com