Just for Dads ~ October 2020

Dave Ramsey once said that grandparents never talked about money or their romantic relationships, but had a lot of both. These days we talk about money and romantic relationships often, yet don’t have much of either.

Money is something that fascinates most of us from an early age. Each of my children and my nephews have inquired about how much money we make, if we are rich or poor, and how to become rich. My answer to how much money we have has always been, “We are in the middle of the middle class.”

Money can often be the cause of fighting, divorce, or even the end of friendships. Decisions involving money are often driven by emotions and not logic. In the U.S., we are provided opportunities for upward economic mobility, but what we do with that is up to us. It’s important that we teach our kids that we have the ability to impact our future to avoid costly, lifelong mistakes and behaviors.

One way to so that is to teach our kids the value of an education and developing employable skills—and how to develop a healthy work ethic. To support this, we must also help our children avoid developing an addiction to drugs or alcohol that can hinder their goals. Finally, we must teach our kids to plan for their own family and the importance of being able to support their own children before they have them. They have to be able to avoid the lure of easy money to avoid the catastrophic effects of being weighed down with a criminal record.

Teenagers, by nature, are impulsive and have a hard time thinking about a long-term perspective. It is a difficult concept for them to understand how important prevention is to secure a positive outcome. That’s why you must start young when teaching kids about money and wise choices.

My advice: Find financially wise people to mentor your children. Once, at a nonprofit fundraising conference, I heard the presenter say to stop coming to nonprofit conferences for counsel on how to raise money. He suggested that poor people take too much advice from others, and the result has been that they stay poor. Wise counsel is a must, but knowing how to make a good plan for yourself and your own circumstances is an equally important piece to the puzzle.

Ward Williams is the founder and executive director of Vineyard Family Services. Contact him at ward@vfsdads.com.

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