Parenting tips for financial freedom title
Charla McKinley
This year Charla McKinley of The Artisan of Adulting and Beyond Personal Finance joins us as a featured columnist. Providing practical help for teaching finances, Charla shares tips for parenting that instill financial wisdom in children and teens in a natural way
“A calm sea never
made a skilled sailor.”

—Franklin D Roosevelt
Sailing Through Choppy Seas
Tip #1
Our mistakes give us the experience needed to navigate adulthood, therefore, resist the temptation to calm the seas to smooth the journey for your children.
In the fifth grade, I arrived for soccer practice one day to discover that my coach was actually throwing the soccer ball at my teammates’ heads in an effort to teach the skill of heading the ball. I was dismayed. Despite evidence to the contrary, I was convinced it would hurt! And I didn’t want to look stupid. What if the ball hit my face or I missed it all together? My fear was so strong it kept me from seeing that everyone was struggling to get it right. I walked off the field and told my mom I was not going back.

She let me quit.

My mom’s goal was my happiness and smoothing the seas of uncertainty and fear. Letting me quit was her way of achieving that goal. Unfortunately, it also left me without tools to navigate the choppy waters of my teen and young adult years.

Tip #2
Resist the urge to “fix” problems to give your children the opportunity to overcome setbacks. This leads to a strong sense of self-confidence in their ability to weather any storm.
It is natural for children and teens to shy away from a challenge out of a fear of failure. But when they give in to that fear, it leaves them convinced they are a failure. A sense of shame whispers, “You don’t have what it takes.”

Accepting a challenge gives them a chance to see the reality of their abilities and discover growth opportunities.

Letting your children quit a team because they are “no good” robs them of the chance to become good through perseverance. Worse still, it validates their conclusion and inadvertently sends the message that you agree that they do not have what it takes. Instead, your role is to encourage your children past their fear by giving them ideas to navigate the situation. For example, you could encourage your son to meet privately with the coach to determine what skills he lacks and help him get the practice needed to develop those skills.

If we are rescued from our failure we learn to be afraid of it, concluding, “Why else would we need rescuing if we could handle it on our own?”

hat made out of money
Tip #3
Let them experience failure when they are under your roof and the stakes are small instead of alone, feeling exposed and confused without the tools needed to stay afloat.
Failure comes with natural consequences that are painful, but experiencing those consequences helps children avoid making the same mistake. If we remove the consequences to make things smoother for our children, we take away the lesson.

When I was in middle school, I got a purse. My mom kept saying, “Don’t forget your purse!” everywhere we went. Finally, she stopped saying it and sure enough I lost it. I was crushed at the disappearance of my Bonnie Bell lip gloss and my $7 savings.

Thankfully, my mom didn’t replace those items. From that day forward, I was much more mindful of keeping up with my stuff. The lesson came when I lost it, not with the repeated reminders. Experience will teach much more than words.

Stack of coins
Tip #4
Share your failures so your children understand they are not the only ones who make mistakes.
Be mindful not to limit your sharing to the mistakes you made at their age. Our children need to know if we are currently living through the consequences of our mistakes. Many of us are embarrassed by the choices we made when we were younger. We don’t want to open ourselves up to judgment by our children. But how else will they understand that poor choices lead to real consequences?
“See your role as a guide to help them experience failure without concluding that they are a failure.”
Training for Financial Freedom
One of the most common mistakes people make involves how they handled money. How many of us are currently struggling with the consequences of our financial choices when we were younger? Make the connection for your kids about how the actions you are taking today—like keeping a tight budget, living in a smaller house, and driving an older car—are a result of your hard won lessons.

Often we tell our kids, “No, it’s not in the budget.” Instead, explain how that budget was set and why their request did not make the cut.

The question, “Why don’t we have a house like Suzie?” could be answered, “Yes, I like Suzie’s house too. But when I was younger, I did not have enough information to make wise choices with my money so we aren’t in a position to afford a house like Suzie’s. I love our house, and these mistakes taught me so much about what is really important to me. I have a lot of lessons I can share with you to help you be more wise than I was.”

The mistakes I have made led me into some choppy waters. My experiences on those waters were the foundation on which I was able to mature and learn to stand on my own despite the waves around me.

Rather than aiming for the current happiness for your children, take a broader perspective and see your role as a guide to help them experience failure without concluding that they are a failure.

To get you started, get Stuff Your Teen Can Fail At, a list of seven areas to let your teen fail—ones that will leave a mark of experience that will grow into a lifetime of wisdom.
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Charla McKinley headshot

harla McKinley graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in Finance. She went on to become a Certified Public Accountant with over 25 years working in both the corporate and private sectors.

While homeschooling her two children, Charla was inspired to write an interactive personal finance curriculum that opens the student’s eyes to the high costs of being an adult. After retiring from homeschooling, Charla continues to write and teach using her Beyond Personal Finance curriculum.

Charla’s passion is teaching teens that their choices matter. She is a firm believer that in order to prepare teens for the road ahead they must be given the opportunity to practice making good (and not so good) choices using real dollars before they get out into the world and have real regrets.