It’s 7am. You haven’t had your coffee. Your three-year-old is clinging to your leg like a Kuala bear because he’s hungry. You make your way to the kitchen, trying to blink away the lack of sleep from your eyes, when a sharp object sinks into the bottom center of your foot.
Even before you’ve finished shrieking in pain, you’ve identified the culprit—the Kuala clinging tightly at your side. Once again, he’s left a trail of Legos across the floor. You wearily survey the condition of your living room—Calico Critters, Tonka trucks, and electronics scattered from wall to wall—and a familiar fear begins to surface:
I didn’t have nearly this much when I was growing up . . .
Am I spoiling my child?
Maybe it’s the searing pain in your foot . . . or perhaps it’s the lack of caffeine in your system, but your mind flashes back to the cast of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the unfortunate fate of young Veruca Salt, whose famous last words were, “I want it now!” before she was promptly flushed out with the garbage for being a “bad egg.”
No one wants to raise a bad egg.
History has long equated wealth with the disintegration of character . . . prosperity with entitlement and slothfulness. But just because your child has access to more wealth and opportunity than you did growing up, doesn’t mean you’re doomed for a bad-egg future.
Wealth is not a death sentence to character, but quite oppositely, an unprecedented opportunity for character development.
Here are 5 ways you can leverage your financial resources to instill character in your children.
1. Train Up Tiny Stewards
Teaching stewardship begins with building self-esteem. Don’t be afraid to place motivating incentive on hard work at school and around the house. Show your little ones you trust them to handle their allowances responsibly. Give them opportunities to make mistakes and also to experience the rewards of spending conscientiously. While these will be hard-learned lessons at first, soon your tiny stewards will understand the value of a dollar. And even more importantly, they will have gained confidence in their ability to make wise decisions.
2. Let your Children Lead in Generosity
Instead of condemning selfishness, nurture your child’s innate desire to give. Having the resources to meet needs in your community is an incredible opportunity to expose your children to the joy of giving. Set aside funds each month solely for the sake of generosity, and let your children dream up creative ways to bless others with it. Do they want to give to a charity? Would they like to give an anonymous gift to a friend in need? These experiences will teach your children to look outward to the needs of others—a quality that will greatly impact the rest of their lives.
3. Give Gifts that Inspire Exploration
The gifts you give your children have incredible power to direct their attention away from themselves. Giving gifts that nourish their natural gifts and abilities will not only help them gain confidence, it will also inspire them to look outside themselves and explore the world around them. Whether
you’re giving guitar lessons, art supplies, karate class, or a book about reptiles, you are investing in an essential part of healthy child development while fueling their unique interests, talents and passions.
4. Invest in Enriching Experiences
Your children will learn quickly that wealth gives them power, but you are the one who will teach them how to use it. By choosing to prioritize experiences over material goods, you will enrich your children’s lives and enlighten their perspectives exponentially. Leverage your financial resources to show your children both the beauty and the desperate needs of world—invite them to join you in meeting those needs. Your children will learn through experience that there is nothing more fulfilling than using their influence to bring about positive change.
5. Tell the Whole Story
Your personal story is one of the most powerful tools you have to instill character in your children. Be intentional about sharing the ups and downs of the journey to where you are today. Don’t be afraid to let your children in on that fact that you weren’t born already knowing exactly who you were, how you’d be successful, and what mattered most in life. Be honest about the struggles you’ve faced and the mistakes you made along the way. These vulnerable moments are modeling wisdom and humility for your children in a deeply powerful way.
It’s a myth that character comes only through struggle and scarcity . . . character comes from character. Choose to see your financial resources as a powerful tool to inspire, enrich, train, and affirm your children.
What creative ways are you leveraging wealth to instill character in your children?