Recently while my husband and I were watching one of our favorite TV series, this text came in from one of the boys:
“Hey Pa, just want to thank you for being a good role model, specifically, with your money values. You showed us the balance of enjoying the good things in life at the right time and in the right amount. It stems back from you buying Mama’s engagement ring despite it being less than 1 carat, spending for your own wedding, up to when you finally bought your dream car and enjoy the finer things in life. It gives me a sense of comfort that guides me in my day-to-day decisions.”
I saw my husband’s face light up with a smile of joy and contentment. And he has all the reasons to be happy. Indeed a good father is someone a son looks up to no matter how tall the latter gets. This underscores the importance of what parents do because our children will not do what we tell them to do, but what they see us do. Sometimes outside influences like traditional and social media, school environment, peer pressure, etc. are such convenient excuses when we see something we don’t like in our kids, but really it’s still the home that has the most significant influence on their formation.
Here are some points of reflection that can help us raise our children to have the money values that we aspire them to have.
- How much is my child’s allowance? There are two schools of thought about giving children allowance. One is that there should be no allowance because they should earn it. The other is that there should be a regular amount with which he can practice how to budget. I subscribe to the latter primarily because I learned to be a saver since kinder because of my weekly allowance. Should you decide to give regular allowance, be clear on what items are included in it. I always recommend giving on the low side in order to practice frugality and discipline.
- Do we narrate to our child stories of our early days of struggle with joy or sadness? Children learn a lot from stories and they like our childhood stories. Do you tell them stories how you used to be happy with simpler things in life or do you picture yourself as a victim then, just because you had less in material things? These stories have subtle but very significant impact on how our children will view and value material things.
- How is my child’s self confidence and self-esteem? According to a top company’s Chief Marketing Officer, millennials only value things that are “post-able.” Quite alarming to hear and this may contribute to the growing materialism and the need to “keep up with the Kardashians” among the youth. But really, the secret is still in the healthy sense of self. Sure, it’s cool to have those stuff, but if your child feels okay with herself, she will not bug you to buy those expensive stuff just so she can post something on her Instagram! Help your child find what she’s good at and hone these talents so that she will feel sufficient and worthy with or without the cool stuff.
- Do I share the joy of buying the finer things in life with my children with stories? My husband likes doing this with the boys. He would tell them of this pair of rubber shoes that he really wanted back in the day but was considered too much for a young kid. Then with drumroll, he would say, “And when I could afford to buy dozens of pairs of it, I did! It’s so much sweeter to finally have it after the wait.” What a master of delaying gratification! It’s the third basic law of money in The Retelling of The Richest Man in Babylon that even your toddler can understand. (Now available in Filipino version).
- What kind of stuff do I give my child? Are they usually signature items? Check this out. Chances are when you shop for your favorite brand, you end up buying one for your child. Although it’s okay to do this once in a while, as long as you don’t sacrifice your needs, bear in mind that you may be setting up your child’s standards too high too soon. When it comes to enjoying the finer things in life, it’s no different from the Aldub phenomenon, it should be #SaTamangPanahon.
- Have I taught my child the other uses of money? Early on it’s a good idea to teach your young child that money is not only utilized via spending but also through investing. Try to explain as simply as possible what else they can do with money. One of the tools that helped us instill the discipline of investing in the boys is the Balance Sheet. Since money is an abstract concept, it was easier for them to see the utility of (or pleasure derived from) money when they could see their assets growing in their Balance Sheet. Giving is another use of money and this will help them feel even more abundant.
- For the more affluent parents: Have I given everything to my child that I have practically eliminated all possible hunger in him, such that there’s nothing more to aspire for? Again, something parents must watch out for. Millennials are usually branded the entitled generation and sorry to say, but this is primarily because of their over-giving parents who may belong to the Baby Boomers or Gen X. Studies show that because of the proliferation of broken homes, parents try to overcompensate for the absence of one parent that they end up giving in to all the whims of the child. Then the competitive parents (even those not in broken homes) end up doing the same because they wouldn’t want their children to be left behind in the coolness department, “I just want my children to be happy!” Unfortunately, in doing so, the necessary hunger that results in striving hard is inadvertently eliminated.
- Have I deliberately helped my teenager find his purpose in life? Here’s the thing. Because our kids are way too advanced in accumulating knowledge and are endlessly exposed to all the possibilities, it’s sometimes daunting for them to find their place under the sun. It’s not as simple as “study hard, find a good job, raise your family then give back to society” They want things to happen all at the same time now while they have not even reached their maturity yet. There has been a high incidence of depression that sometimes leads to suicide because of this confusion and helplessness. Some kids try to find solace in the material things that they have access to. And when they find out that there’s emptiness at the end of acquiring those stuff, they give up. This is prevalent in well-off families. (I suggest you read the book written by another mother of 3 boys entitled The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids to avoid getting your child in this situation.)
- How am I with money now? Our children are way too sensitive to sense if something’s bothering us, no matter how much we try to hide it. A lot of parents, in their hope to spare their children from sadness, will not admit if there’s a financial problem. It is always better to tell the truth. Say it as a matter of fact, a temporary situation that you, as a family, can all work on together to solve. Do not overdramatize that you traumatize your kids and be careful not to instill unnecessary shame on being in a financial difficulty. Again, it is a temporary state that should be dealt with using the cooperation of each family member.
I hope the above points help you raise your children to have the money values you want them to have, in order to live a successful, happy and meaningful life. Cheers to high and values-laden FQ!
I will speak at the First Quarter Macroeconomic Briefing of Eagle Watch to share my insights on the presidentiables. It will be on February 2 at the Ateneo Rockwell Campus from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. For reservations, please contact 4265661 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rose Fres Fausto is the author of bestselling books Raising Pinoy Boys and The Retelling of The Richest Man in Babylon (English and Filipino versions). Click this link to read samples – Books of FQ Mom Rose Fres Fausto. She is the grand prize winner of the first Sinag Financial Literacy Digital Journalism Awards. Follow her on Facebook and You Tube as FQ Mom, and Twitter & Instagram as theFQMom.
ATTRIBUTIONS: Images used from 123rf.com, imggood.com, beyondbank.com put together to help deliver the message of the article.