Raising children is hard! Raising them to be good people is even harder. Teaching good morals and character requires intention, action, and patience. No parent in the world will have all of those things all of the time. Every age brings its own unique challenges, and sometimes we just need to power through it. There is no way to know if we are raising good people. Thankfully, life hands our kids learning opportunities, all we have to do is take advantage of them.
As our children grow into teenagers, they will inevitably want to get their first job. With that job comes money, and kids need to be taught the impact of spending and earning. Take your kid’s first job as an opportunity to teach moral lessons.
Living up to your obligations is a matter of morality. If you say you will do something, you do it. Unfortunately, bills are an obligation in our society. Talk to your kids about bills and living expenses before they start earning money. Be transparent about your finances, including blemishes on your record or things like credit card debt. Set up a clear budget that shows how much money each member of the family uses, and be clear about everyone’s contribution. Some members of the family don’t contribute financially, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t pull their own weight.
When your kids start earning their own money, whether from a job or an allowance, let them decide how they want to contribute. What do they think is a fair obligation? When they are older, have them pay their own way for some things, like cell phone bills. If you are in a position where you don’t need the extra money, you can always tuck it away in a savings account for them to access later.
Your teenager is starting to form their own values and opinions about the world. They may feel very passionately about certain social issues. Teach them how to be responsible consumers by leveraging that new passion. It can be challenging to live in our consumer-oriented world without buying something that goes against our personal beliefs. It can even be challenging to know what all the logos and market means. What is animal testing? Are GMO’s bad? What’s fair about trade? Whatever your teens opinions, you can teach them to make informed choices.
Charity isn’t about handing money out, or giving everything away. It’s about understanding that some people have more than others. It’s about supporting the things you believe in to make an impact in the world. Encouraging charitable giving helps teens connect with the community. You may already have charities that you support as a family, like a religious community or local nonprofit. If not, do some research and find a charitable cause that you believe in. Model charity and talk about its impact, locally and globally. Discuss why it’s important to give back. Then, encourage your teen to give to a cause they believe in.
Your teenager is developing their identity, and that means figuring out their values. Use their first job as an opportunity to discuss integrity. When they are searching for a job, they need to ask themselves about the company they are applying for. Just like voting with your dollar, working is voting with your labor. You are invested in the business you work for, whether you like it or not. Help teens research job opportunities that align with their personal values. There is a wealth of job opportunities available for teenagers as young as 14 year old’s, including self-employment and freelance options. Let your teen know that their labour is just as valuable as their money.
Money and morality go hand in hand. As cliché as it may sound, money really does make the world turn. As teens start to earn their own keep, it’s vital that we teach them the connection between money and values. How they earn and spend is powerful.
Ron Stefanski is the founder of JobsForTeensHQ.com and has a passion for helping teenagers find jobs. He created the website because he feels that teenagers need to focus on their professional passions much earlier in life and aims to teach them how they can do that. When he’s not working on his website, Ron is a college professor and loves to travel the world.
This is a collaborative post.