This post is the tenth installment of a series on children’s faith development called Vision from the Frontlines: Voices, Experiences & Practices of Faith Development. For more information about this series, click here. I am to welcome my dear friend, Krista today. Krista and I met about twenty years ago and enjoyed many years of friendship and ministry together while on staff at Westminster Woods Presbyterian Camp. I have relied heavily on Krista’s wisdom, humor, groundedness & parenting advice. Thank you, Krista, for sharing here today. I know it is a message that will give us a lot to think about and some new practices to try as we navigate parenting young ones growing into new independence.
This is the year. I have decided to allow my two girls, ages 5 and almost 7, to finally have their own allowances. I’ve hemmed and hawed over this decision for some time now, but as my 5 year old seems to have a love for shopping that comes neither from her father nor from me, it is becoming clear that money is a topic that I need to address with her sooner rather than later.
I grew up with a sense of stress about finances. After losing my mother to cancer at the age of 11, my newly single father, a music teacher in Oakland’s inner-city schools, was rightfully concerned about providing for my older brother and myself. It may have been his upbringing during the depression, his fears about impending college tuitions for the two of us, or any number of other factors that led him to respond to finances with a sense of anxiety. Regardless, I learned to fear money, or the lack thereof, and have spent years living frugally, not because it is wise to do so, but because I was afraid of not having what I might need.
What I was not taught is that I have a Heavenly Father who is intimately aware of my every need. Truly, all that I have is His and He has every intention of taking good care of me. (Phil. 4:19) So, although there are mountains of things that I learned from my parents that I intend to pass on to my children, their understanding of money and God’s promise to provide is not one of them.
For so many reasons, my husband has proven himself to be the perfect match for me, not the least of which is the way he views money. He has always been faithful in tithing (which I never even did previous to being married to him), and is completely secure in his belief that God will provide what we need, when we need it. (He has been right every time!) I am so thankful for the many ways he has brought me into a closer faith walk in the years we have been married. Every day, I see in my husband more and more godly character traits that I hope to develop and I am thankful for his example to me. Over our almost 14 years of marriage, money has become less of a source of anxiety for me and more of a marker of God’s faithfulness to us.
So, I’ve decided that now is the time to begin teaching my sweet girls that God is truly the provider (and owner) of all that we have. For Christmas, each of my girls received a piggy bank of sorts. It is shaped like a little town, showing a store, a church and a bank. Each building façade has a little slot in the top where you can insert money, some for saving, some for giving and some for spending. Each girl is given a dollar bill and 4 quarters every Monday. The dollar bill goes into the store, two quarters go into the bank and two quarters go into the church. OK, I realize that tithing means giving 10%, but the truth is, my girls don’t understand percents yet and somehow 2 quarters in each slot just feels nice and simple to me. So, for now, they will tithe and save 25% of what they are given. They are really excited about having a little bit of money to spend, too, and are already talking about what they will buy each other for their birthdays (score one for our understanding of being generous!). The other day, at Safeway, Miss 5 year old wanted me to buy her a fruit roll-up. That was not in my grocery plan so I told her that I would buy it for her and she could give me 50 cents when we got home. She was just fine with this arrangement and I was so happy to put this money decision in her court. They are both excited to have something to contribute to the offering basket each week at church, too. We’ve discussed how that money is used by the church and they are beginning to understand how God’s provisions for us can become our gifts back to Him.
My prayer for my girls in this new piece of parenting is that they will learn that God is, indeed, more than able to provide all that they need and that money is not to be feared, but to be used wisely and given generously. As I gave them their allowances today, each girl was thrilled to be getting closer to their goals in the spending portion of their banks. The surprise in the conversation was that neither is saving for herself, but to buy for the other their desired gift. I pray that I will find such joy in using God’s finances entrusted to me to bless others and to honor Him!
Krista is a Bay Area native and stay-at-home mom, who finds it rare to ever have a full day of staying at home. After a career as a symphony musician, she enjoys teaching music from her home, affording her a short commute down the hall from the kitchen to the music room. After 20 years of friendship, she married her best friend at the ripe old age of 27. She and her husband, Bill, are having a blast raising their two daughters.