Many pastors preach on finances from the pulpit. Some churches have financial advisors to assist people in their congregation. Helping families budget is important, and helping children understand the value of money can be part of that education.
I think most of us agree that kids learn the value of money from their parents. However, how does that work when children live in two different homes, and the parents in those two homes might be at war with each other?
What if one or both of those homes have a stepparent and that adult has a completely different understanding of money? Ay-yi-yi! That means a child might have four adults influencing how he learns the value of money.
For years, I have worked with and ministered to children in single-parent homes. Let me tell you: these kids are smart. They learn pretty early how to get what they want, especially when it comes to celebrating birthdays and holidays. Money means nothing to them.
I have heard from kids that
- They have learned to use the divorce as a tool to manipulate their parents into buying them things.
- If they don’t have access to the other parent, they use the poor-is-me syndrome.
- If the parents were never married, they guilt the parents into buying them things.
Many children play one parent against the other, perhaps saying, “But Daddy said he’ll buy me that game I want if you don’t.” Many divorced adults think they can buy their kids. What they don’t realize is they are actually negatively influencing their children for years to come.
Single parents need to wise up about money issues. This is especially true when it comes to giving presents at birthdays, Christmas, and other special days, such as Valentine’s Day.
Here are tips you can share with single parents in your ministry
- Be firm about how money is spent in your home.
- Without burdening your children with financial issues, share with them how much money you budget for different items, such as food, gas, and utilities.
- Don’t allow your child to guilt you into purchasing something.
- Don’t fall into the trap of allowing your child to flaunt all the things the other parent has at his home. Tell your child you are happy that he can enjoy those comforts in the other home, then drop it. If your child persists, say to him, “Let’s concentrate on what we have in our home, and be thankful for what God has provided for us.”
- Don’t allow your child to use the poor-is-me syndrome to get more gifts on holidays and special days.
- When your child says, “Mommy (or Daddy) is buying me a whole bunch of presents on my birthday,” simply say, “I’m happy for you.”
- Teach your children how to spend money by allowing them to have their own money to spend.
Children can be taught what is accepted in each home. Even kids who have influences from four different adults can be exposed to what is important in money matters. Children can learn what the Bible says about being frugal and giving and what your church believes about finances.
What churches can do to assist the single parent
- Use programs such as DivorceCare and Single & Parenting to help single parents learn how to parent alone and how to set up a home on one income.
- Set up a DC4K (DivorceCare for Kids) group for children. In DC4K, there is an entire session devoted to financial issues.
- Support the parent who attends your church.
- If necessary, provide financial counseling, which exposes the single parent to wise budgeting principles.
- Establish a benevolence ministry.
- Keep a food pantry stocked with staples.
- Help children earn money for camp and other activities by doing work around the church or for other church members.
- Provide a simple, easy way for kids to donate to the church.
- Teach lessons about stewardship and giving.
For children, lessons about the value of money can come only from God’s Word and the church family.