If we were for a moment to consider all the gifts we long to bestow upon our children, we’d probably be quite surprised to discover how many of them are material. Raising children in a global online shopping mall where products pop up with every screen tap, it may be somewhat comforting to know that there exists a multitude of gifts we can bestow upon our children that are both free and priceless.
Here are eight financial gifts you may want to consider gifting to your children:
- Teach them not to make money their god
- They must be custodians of their own wealth
- Our emotional well-being should not be attached to our financial successes or failures
- Let them be the authors of their own financial stories
- Allow them to follow their passions
- Your legacy does not need to include money
- They were born to work
- Teach them to give
Most of us parents encourage and guide our children in a particular faith or religion. As personal as one’s faith is, let’s endeavour not to teach our children to worship in the temple of money. For there, though they might encounter many fellow-worshipers, their prayers will go unanswered and their souls will be rudderless. Our children must know that the existence of money is transient and ephemeral, and that making money their god will lead to disappointment, heartache and confusion.
Our children should understand that money is an inanimate object and holds no power. Money’s real power lies in the hands of its custodian master. As guardians of our wealth with an implicit duty of care, we hold within us the power to use our money either to perpetrate evil or to do abundant good. Let’s teach our children how to harness the potential of money to uplift and heal our world. Together with wealth comes an onerous duty of guardianship, and they can’t have one without the other.
As humans, it is natural for our moods to ebb and flow according to our circumstances, and for our feelings to cover the full spectrum of human emotions. As legitimate as our emotions may be, let’s make sure that the touchstone for our mood changes is not money. If through the outward expression of emotions we demonstrate to our kids that the lack of money can make us sad, anguished and depressed, we are teaching them that the opposite is true: that the existence of money can make us happy, satisfied and fulfilled. Let them know that happiness is a habitual choice and is unrelated to wealth.
Whatever plans we may have for our children’s futures, we need to step back and let them be the authors of their own stories. As much as we’d like to see our children being financially secure forever, there comes a time when we need to let them make their own financial mistakes. We need to impress upon our children that, whilst we’ll always be there to guide and mentor them, it is not fair for us to jeopardise our own retirement funding to fix their financial fiascos.
Our children need to be allowed to find their passion – the very thing that they love doing more than anything else – and then build a career out of it. When you spend your God-given skill and natural genius doing what you genuinely love doing, your inexhaustible energy will be contagious, and making money will be a by-product of living your dream. Work should be love made visible.
As much as we may have a burning desire to bequeath a financial legacy to our children, let’s give careful thought to the consequences of such a gift. For many so-called ‘trust-fund babies’, their intended inheritance hangs like a sword of Damocles over their heads – an ever-present reminder of all they are expected to rise to. Let’s be sure not to rob our children of the freedom to map their own futures by gifting them tiresome financial legacies that will serve only to rule them emotionally from the grave.
Each and every one of us was born with a unique set of skills and talents, and we were put on this earth to use them for the greater good of mankind. Simply put, we were born to work, produce, contribute and accomplish wonderful things with our gifts. Let’s teach our daughters that ‘finding a rich husband’ and ‘marrying for money’ is for Cinderella only. Let our sons appreciate that their girlfriends and wives are every bit as entitled to their chosen career as they are. Our children’s self-worth is intricately wrapped up in their ability to contribute to society in a positive and meaningful way. Let’s encourage them to feed their self-worth.
In a world dominated by wants, needs and have-to-haves, teaching our children to give freely to others can be challenging. There is undoubtedly more joy to be derived from the act of giving than from the state of receiving – a difficult lesson to communicate in a world obsessed with the acquisition of personal wealth. As Anne Frank wrote, “No one has ever become poor from giving”, and we shouldn’t be afraid to let our children discover this for themselves.