Many of us are parents.
As we grow older we will almost certainly look back and realize that there are decisions we made that were not in our own best interest.
Some of the most detrimental ones were financial, and we will desperately want to be able to teach those things to our children before they make the same mistakes.
But something happens when our kids become teens. They start to make more of their own decisions.
Some topics, money for sure, slowly become taboo.
My oldest is 13, so this is not happening to me yet, but I’m told that at some point soon my “talks” will be heard by them more as a sermon than as loving advice. There are good and bad reasons for this. The entrance of a spouse, for example, is a legitimate one. Thinking they just know it all is not.
The fact is that we want our kids to be on their own and learn from their own mistakes like we did. But the really big decisions make us nervous. When we start in on one of our sermons, it should become clear that we are not striking real high on the effectiveness scale.
So, for reasons good or bad, better or worse, preaching at your adult children is not likely going to get you very far, especially when the topic is money.
There are, however, a few things you still can do to get them to listen.
Here are some things I’m trying:
Show them by my example. Actions speak louder than words, and it’s especially true here. If I want my kids to make good decisions about credit-card debt, for example, I better not have any myself.
Be wrong in front of my kids – even ask forgiveness when I am wrong to them. Let’s face it: they know we’re not perfect. Humility is almost always a key missing ingredient in those family relationships that are less than they could be. When I’m wrong or have done something stupid, I need to own it. No one benefits when I try to cover it up.
Learn WITH them. Find opportunities where I can learn from another trusted and valuable source with my kids. If I want them to keep learning, then I better be doing it too. If I am doing it, then I can invite them to learn with me. Let someone else preach the sermon. Then we can critique it together.
I have many advisors. Right now, for my children, I am their advisor. When I stop being their main advisor, one of the strongest moves I can make is to connect them to those who advise me.
This is not coercive.
They will still make their own mistakes.
But I can still have some positive influence if I remember these simple ideas.