In recent years, debt has been highly marketed to high school and college students, and many parents have been outraged at attempts of “kiddie branding” (familiarizing young children with products such as specific credit card brands under the guise of “teaching” them about money). As a parent, you need to realize that even in some school systems that the message of “borrow your way to success” is not uncommon. You may have even grown up in it yourself, but that doesn’t mean your children have to make the same mistakes.
One big thing you can do is be a good example yourself on how to handle money. You don’t have to be perfect, but realize you can’t tell your child not to get into debt as your racking up a balance on your own credit card. It just doesn’t work that way. Take the time to get a good financial education from reading books and talking with wealthy people older than you. This makes it easier to teach your child. As they get older, you can explain mistakes that you’ve made and how you love them enough you don’t want them to go through the same hassles.
Allow even young children to “earn” money through keeping their room clean and good behavior. You can then use this money to teach them about principles such as saving, investing, giving, and delayed gratification. When they’re old enough, give them the opportunity to learn about business. Again, books can help both of you if you’ve never done it yourself.
An overall idea to stress is that wealthy people are not normal in a good way. If your child develops a good thought process when it comes to money, they’re going to run into people that are going to tell them their wrong. This is especially hard if it’s another authority figure such as a teacher. In college, I ran into instructors who talked about success and wealth as if they were bad things, and they were in debt up to their eyeballs in students loans even years after they graduated. If at all possible, get your children around mentors who you trust and can also help them when it comes to money.
At a certain point, you’ll have to let go and let them makes some mistakes. Try the best you can to control the environment, but sometimes a little push back from life can be a form of learning. It’s hard sometimes, but it’s better they learn sooner rather than later.
Lastly, just realize that as a parent you have a lot more influence than you think sometimes. Even teens in the stage of figuring out who they are will be looking to you for guidance. Just be there for them and be supportive of their goals. You will definitely help them avoid the debt trap and build wealth over their lifetime.