In a rush of memories recalled by the video being projected onto the wall, I was reminded of countless times my parenting skills didn’t qualify as Father Of The Year material.
It was the last session of my son’s driver’s education class and parents were asked to attend the last half of the session. The instructor was attempting to drive home the point that the only way we will ever create a culture of safer drivers was for us parents to put in the time and effort to teach our sons and daughters how to be good drivers. The video being shown was that of a young boy and his dad, with the voice of the child telling his dad that he is watching, and learning from his actions regardless of whether the adult is aware of it or not.
The child states he is learning how to treat people, his work ethic, and countless other traits all by watching his dad.
At one point during the video, a clip is shown of the father sitting at the kitchen table with a stack of bills, a calculator, and a checkbook looking frustrated. I started pondering what my actions have taught my children about parenthood, finances, and life in general.
I can think of several commonplace actions that occurred while we were struggling financially that were bad examples for our children to mold themselves after.
What did we teach our kids by paying them their allowance late, or not at all? Did we teach them that it’s OK to ignore your financial responsibilities, or that it’s OK to pay bills late?
What did we teach our kids by recognizing they needed some new clothes,telling them we would do it in a week or two because we couldn’t afford it at that moment, and then going out to eat? We had our priorities out of whack, and likely taught them that they should put their own wants ahead of the needs of the family.
Thankfully our finances never got to this point, but what would a child think of the phone constantly ringing due to calls from bill collectors? I wouldn’t want my kids to think that was normal.
I want my kids to go into adulthood with good examples of their parents handling their finances, which is why I go out of my way to make sure they witness with their eyes and ears what we do now.
My wife and I have our bi-weekly financial discussions right out in the open at the kitchen table. They can see and hear us talking about when bills are due, when income will arrive, how much we have left over. I want them to see us communicating and working as a team.
I make a point to deliver their allowance each Friday as promised. I want them to learn that every financial obligation is important, and needs to be taken care of on time.
I have a notebook that is always on the kitchen counter. When one of our kids tells us something they need (shampoo, deodorant, shorts, shoes, etc), I write it on the current list on the notebook. When Vonnie and I build our spending plan, the things our kids need are first on the list. We want them to know that they, and their needs, are the priority.
In the video, the young boy also tells his dad to not be afraid to show his mistakes. He learns from them just as much as his father does. Our kids have seen our mistakes, but they’ve also seen us learn from and overcome them. Which set of examples will they mold themselves after? I hope they learn from our mistakes just as we did.
Your children are watching you and learning. What are you teaching them?