How to Teach Children to Appreciate Their Parents
by Robin Yang
“Only one hundred dollars?!” twelve-year-old Jason sneered at me. “What can a puny hundred dollars buy?!” I was teaching a basic finance class at an elementary school in New York City, and the topic of the day was how to convince bankers to lend the students one hundred dollars to start a business.
With twenty-five pairs of young eyes trained on me for an answer, I felt a rush of sadness. How have our children lost their appreciation for money? As far as I know, they don’t work and all the money they have is given to them by their parents. How could I teach these children to appreciate every dollar their parents earn for them?
In the past three years, we have witnessed a severe recession and massive layoffs. While parents struggle with longer work hours and less pay, their children still want the latest Ugg boots and Barbour coats. If parents dare to say no, children often counter in frustration, “What do you mean we can’t afford it? Can’t you just get money out of the ATM?”
Until parents explain to their children what it takes for money to keep rolling out of ATMs, children will take those green bills for granted. They will also take your hard work for granted. It will be impossible for children to fully appreciate the holiday gifts you give them if they don’t know how hard you have to work to pay for those gifts.
To teach my students to appreciate their parents’ incredible effort that goes into raising a family, I shared with a children’s book series called Enchanted Collar. It is an adventure story that embeds real-life financial lessons for children aged 7 and older. In the story, the hero, Eli, had no idea of money’s worth at first, squandered his mother’s entire savings on one meal, had to work in a restaurant to pay off his debt, and finally gained a sincere appreciation for money and hard work when he acquired valuable job skills and was able to earn enough money to pay off his debt.
After reading the Enchanted Collar books, my students now appreciate their parents’ hard work, which manifests in food, shelter, other necessities, and gifts. They now understand what it takes to earn a living. They have learned valuable financial lessons through the eyes and hearts of story characters.
As a parent, if you feel you are overworked and under-appreciated, then teach your children to appreciate every single dollar you earn for them. Tell them what it takes to get a job and keep it. Teach them to appreciate you.