Did you have chores you were expected to do when you were growing up? Was your allowance tied to whether or not you completed them? Are your kids barely home enough to eat, sleep and do a little homework? Are you worried adding chores to their to-do list will be overwhelming or unfair?
Chores can be a controversial topic in parenting. There are so many possible combinations of how to give your kids responsibilities around your home and money for the things they want or need. It seems like whatever their stance, the “experts” on chores and money are convinced their method is the best for your kids, too.
As a Christian parent, you are perhaps even more concerned that you handle these topics well. If your kids grow up to become faithful, productive Christians, they will have responsibilities to minister to others. They will expected to be good stewards of their resources and share them generously with those in need or in support of ministries.
What really is the best way to teach your kids to take on responsibilities – especially unpleasant ones – and do them well and reliably? What is the best way to teach them to handle their money in godly ways and have grateful and generous hearts?
The good news is that the methods aren’t necessarily as important as the teaching and training that goes with them. You can teach your kids to be responsible with regularly assigned chores or by expecting them to pitch in and help with whatever needs to be done at the moment. The key is talking about why being responsible is important – in general – and especially to God. What sorts of responsibilities might God give them in the future? Talk about the consequences of being responsible and irresponsible. Expect responsibilities to be handled well, with consequences when they are ignored or done poorly.
Teaching your children to be grateful, competent stewards of God’s blessings works the same way. You can teach your kids to handle money well and be generous with an allowance that is or isn’t tied to chores. You can teach them by giving them little odd jobs to earn money. The key is the teaching you do as they handle their money. Are you actively teaching them about budgeting and saving? Do they understand the financial responsibilities that they may face as adults and how to make sure God is always the first priority in how their money is used?
An interesting secular study found that even the highly praised four bank method of teaching kids wasn’t teaching the vast majority of them how to save money. Why? Because the parents weren’t actively teaching them to save and didn’t have a method for monitoring and giving feedback to how their children actually used the cash in the banks.
Choose the methods and lessons you think will work best for your family. Plan time to actively teach the principles and skills you want your kids to learn and practice with household responsibilities and money. Model healthy, godly behaviors in those areas yourself. Monitor whether or not they seem to be learning the lessons. Be willing to adapt or change methods if your kids don’t seem to be growing in those areas. Don’t let them continue to struggle for years. At that point, they may be too old to learn those lessons easily.
Taking the time to teach your kids about responsibility and stewardship is crucial. Just don’t worry too much about the methods. With adequate intentional teaching from you and guided practice, they should learn the lessons well.