Ten years ago the A&E show “Hoarders” introduced us to people who live in filth and clutter, and—just as we gape at horrific traffic crashes on the highway—we couldn’t help watching these strangers’ obsessive and self-destructive behaviors from the comfort of our living rooms.
Now, how would you feel if you turned on “Hoarders” and saw your own kids? But instead of your kids living in a fire hazard of a home overcrowded with piles of newspapers and boxes of knickknacks, what if the show depicted them drowning in debt, shackled by a lifestyle of always striving to buy the next luxury SUV to fill up the three-car garage attached to their McMansion decorated with high-end furnishings and the latest gadgets?
That’s my nightmare. When my wife and I started our family, I slowly realized that amassing piles of money and expensive things was my version of “hoarding.” And I was unwittingly teaching our kids to follow in my footsteps—creating a generation of hoarders.
If this resonates with you, know that there are ways to guard against this. And it starts with teaching your kids about the power of generosity. Here’s how:
1. Be generous with your kids
Modeling generosity starts in the home. If you’re thrifty, you might have the tendency to be stingy with your family even if you’re generous with others.
Ask yourself: “Are my spouse and kids on the expense side of my ledger, or the generosity side?”
In our house, we stopped buying “stuff” and started buying experiences, which allow us to create memories and practice gratitude—the beginning of generosity. This includes visiting other cultures, being outdoors, and connecting with other families like ours in different parts of the world.
2. Give your kids money now
If your kids don’t have access to money, they won’t learn how to use it. Give them an allowance or pay them regularly to do chores around the house.
My wife and I went back and forth on this and came to the conclusion that there’s no right way but we wish we would have started sooner by getting a reasonable amount of money into their hands and having a conversation around what to do with it.
Let them know our money is God’s money and once they get it, here’s what to do: share some, save some and spend some. Set aside time for this. You’re planting seeds of generosity in their little hearts.
3. Give them opportunities to give back
Last week, our neighbor was raking her leaves. Knowing she’s a young widow with two small kids, we grabbed our rakes and headed over. My oldest two girls, 8 and 11, offered to play with her kids so we could tackle the job more quickly. Later that night, we talked about our experience. Although it was tiring, it was rewarding.
When your kids have opportunities to be generous, help them connect their feelings to their actions. They’ll learn being generous feels good.
Remember, you’re the biggest influence on your kids. What you teach them about finances and generosity leaves a lasting impact.
Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash
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Published November 14, 2019