Since they’re still little (5, 4 & 3) , I started off by answering the question by saying I work to make money. A week later they asked, “why do you need to make money?” I told I had to make money to pay for the house we live in and the car we drive. These answers were acceptable to them… for a little while.
A few weeks later when I was leaving for work, they asked me why I had to go. I told them if I didn’t work, they wouldn’t have the toys that they like so much, or the iPad they are enthralled with. I wanted to make it more personal for them so they could understand the complexities of adult life.
After thinking about it for awhile, I just realized I have it all wrong. Why didn’t I tell them I work because I love what I do? Why didn’t I take the opportunity to talk about providing for my family because I love them?
By emphasizing money and possessions, I pre-conditioned them to the notion that work=money, and money=happiness. By avoiding the explanation of why work is truly important, I missed an opportunity and unintentionally started them on a path that often leads to selfishness and materialism.
We must be good stewards of the teachable moments we have with our children. They will soon grow up and those fleeting moments will vanish… leaving in their wake a foundation they will stand on for the rest of their lives.