If you are like me you have probably taught your child some aspect of every academic subject available. You may have all of the most popular DVDs, workbooks, mobile apps, and websites. I commend you for this. But some of the most important lessons you SHOULD BE teaching them are lessons they will never learn anywhere else.
- Bills, Bills, Bills
- Home Ownership
- Being Imperfect is Ok
- Quality over Swag
- Entering Relationships
Teach them about your bills/income
- Ok now before you run away and say “this person is crazy” hear me out for a second. How often does your child ask for a new toy, shoes, or video game with little or no concept of how much it cost? Or perhaps your child leaves lights on, refrigerators open, and food uneaten and left to spoil. This happens when children do not understand the value of money. Although you do not have to show them your actual pay check, provide them with an overall assessment of how much a person gets paid and where that money goes. Also consider incorporating college or retirement savings as a planned expense. I did this with my son and allowed him to do the math himself and from then on he understood that money is not an unlimited resource which he can request at any given time.
Teaching your children how to buy a house
- You did it and it was a long and horrible process and although you hope you never have to do it again there were many things you had to do beforehand to prepare to get to this point. Guess what? Your children don’t know this.
- One of the first steps to buying a house is getting your credit in order. Help them identify a process where they can establish credit at age 18 so that they might maintain it over the next 4-5 years. Small things like getting a low balance credit card, financing a car and financing home furniture are extremely helpful to building a high credit score which will be vital in obtaining a low interest rate.
- The next step is getting a down payment. Show your child how much he or she could or should save from his or her job monthly in order to have enough money to put towards closing costs and a down payment for a house.
- Help your child understand how they can come out cheaper by buying a house versus renting an apartment. Tax benefits when buying a house versus renting can often be substantial as interest, taxes and insurance are tax deductible but rental payments are not (unless you are the landlord).
That you were not perfect, and its ok to make mistakes
- Our children look at us with the mentality that somehow we got everything right and it could not be further from the truth. This is often damaging to their self-esteem as they attempt to abide by the rules and ideas we require of them. Teaching them that we are not perfect and have made mistakes allows them to greater relate to us as parents, become more open to us about what they are doing and also realize that we know what they are up to when they attempt to sneak out to go to that party. *sideeye* Most importantly, it takes the pressure off of them to be perfect.
Name brands are meaningless
- Children are easily influenced. Often that influence comes from other children, pop culture, music, and movies. Inevitably you child will come to you wanting an unreasonable accessory that every other child in school has (not really). Today it’s a video games, tomorrow it’s a pair of $200 Jordan’s. Before you go in your pocket book to buy every item that will allow your child to be the most popular child in school, consider the implied lesson you are teaching them, which is: name brands matter, what others think about what you wear matters, your worth is determined by what you wear and other harmful ideologies. This is not to say send your child to school in tattered clothing while you hoard hundreds of thousands of dollars, rather be rational about your purchases and ensure that you are not submitting to the idea that brands are in any way defining of a person.
Why you are in your current relationship
- Like discussing your bills this might also be a touchy subject, but I think it is important. Your relationship is your own but your children have just as much at stake when you enter a relationship as you do. They are encountering a new parental figure and possibly will be spending as much time with that person as you will.
- Children see firsthand the treatment we encounter with our significant others (and if the communication between you is strong enough they will tell you). Not only does this affect their immediate emotional responses but it also influences how they interact in relationships in the future.
- If you can verbalize, clearly and honestly, why you are in your current relationship, what that person offers you, and how he or she makes your life better, you can and will affect the way your child sees him or herself in a relationship.