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PROBLEM: A CHILD WHO IS GETTING READY TO MAKE A REALLY STUPID DECISION
Since children learn financial maturity at the cost of their mistakes, it is often difficult for parents to know just when to step in and forestall the consequences of their child’s bad decision.
The real question is, How far do you go in allowing a child the freedom to fail? The answer depends on several things. First, how serious is the mistake going to be? For example, allowing a child to spend a dollar foolishly at the grocery store is far different from allowing him or her to purchase an unsafe automobile at age sixteen. One child may want to wear name brand shirts or jeans, whereas another places a higher value on a stereo system.
It also depends on the age of the child and where he is in the learning process. You are certainly going to want to give much more advice at an earlier age than you will later on.
“Stepping in” and “giving advice” are two different things. If you “step in”, you stop him from making mistake by forcing the issue and not allowing him to fail. “Advising” him before he makes the decision and then allowing him to choose is something entirely different. It is a judgment call as to when you step in and when you give advice; but examine the situation to see which appropriate response is. God will give you the wisdom to make the right decision.
We are very free with our advice to our children. We don’t even necessarily wait to be asked, but we do not let them know that we won’t love them any less if they choose against our advice. We try to help them see beforehand that they will have to live with the choice they make. When they understand the long-term implications of a choice, and that our love is not dependent upon their choosing what we would choose, they experience freedom and security in their decision.
Again let us say that our children’s choices on how to spend their money are often not the same as ours would be. However; they are not wrong- they are just different. They reflect each child’s personality. Let each be free to express himself by his choices assuming they are scripturally sound. Your child’s confidence and self-respect will grow as he realizes he can to make decisions that are different from those you would make.
As parents, we’re challenged and stretched, many times beyond our own limitations through the process of raising our children. The encouraging part of this is that God is well able to provide the wisdom we need in the situations we face. Memorize and apply daily James 1:5 which states, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” We don’t have all of the answers, but we know the Source who does. God is not only growing our children up, but He is growing us up as well. It is necessary for each of us continually ask God what He would have us to learn.
Another verse that we feel is critical to application of these principles is Hebrews 11:6: “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Training your child requires faith. “Faith comes,” the Bible says, “not only by hearing the Word, but by doing it” James 2:17.
Remember as you begin the great adventure of training your children to manage their money that God will guard and keep what you have committed to Him (Ephesians. 3:20). Children are children, and mistakes tend to the same from one generation to the next. God is far more able to meet our children’s needs than we are and far more concerned about the training responsibility that we are. He will provide us with what we need, when we need it to train up His children in His ways.
With that in mind, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite passages found in Philippians 4:6-7: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication. With thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
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