Our two oldest sons Patrick and Will were partners in crime at a young age. I couldn’t deny it; the evidence was right there in front of me. What had I done wrong? How could this be? Had we failed them as parents?
Shoplifters! Not just one item but 50 to 75 of the same thing. Although Patrick was seven and Will was four, they had managed to outfox their parents and sneak out of Shoe Station with their pockets stuffed with footies. Those “put these on your dirty feet before putting your dirty feet in our clean, new shoes” footies.
I was distressed because we lived a good half hour from the store, we had just gotten home, I was tired and hungry, and now I had to go back with these young guys and somehow help them to understand that you can’t take things from a store without paying. I knew the footies were free, but they didn’t.
So back we went. I made them wait in the car while I went in to “explain.” There was a policeman on duty and he agreed to make the issue real for them. Back I went to the car, in we came together. The two little guys, carrying in their hands the loot of their shared plunder, approached the man in uniform and said what I had coached them to say, “We took these without paying and we are sorry.” He knelt down next to them and explained that people who steal go to jail, that he was glad they brought them back, and that he hoped they would never do this again. They solemnly agreed.
So . . . here’s the truth: Luke 16:10 "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.”
This verse touches on a key issue in life. Money is important for Christians because money is a character gauge. How we handle money and how our children handle money are indicators of what is in our hearts. Training them to use money, to grow money, to give money, requires seeing down the road. As parents, we have to remember that temporary money has eternal ramifications.
Gathered tips on training our kids to master money: Nathan Dungan created this model for kids and money. Have three containers: Share, Save, and Spend. Divide it up every time your kids receive money. Proportions are up to you. David Walsh encourages parents to talk with your kids about what purchases are allowed before going into a store. Saying “No” to your kids may be the best money lesson you can teach them. Our friends Bill and Susan Hightower believe strongly in training their kids to be grateful, to say, “Thank you” when receiving a gift or favor. Goethe: "Too many parents make life hard for their children by trying, too zealously, to make it easy for them."
Question for next week: How do you train your kids for the long haul in their attitude toward work?