“The more entrepreneurial and independent a child is, the more options they have later in life!” -R. Sapio
I often say that the greatest gift my parents gave to my 8 siblings and I is the gift of independence. Today, however, we live in a world in which we’ve been creating the exact opposite- DEPENDENCE. Today’s American kids seem to be connected to an I.V. drip of constant, never-ending video games, social media, and screens of all kinds. In my experience, this creates a frustrating commitment to things that are not real, tangible, and value-generating.
What my parents did, and what Melissa and I do with our kids is not perfect, but at least it moves them closer to their God-given right to be entrepreneurial and independent. To honor my value of simplicity, here is a straightforward list of some of the things we’ve done and that you can try to move your family and your kids in the right direction.
1. Teach them about money early. We’ve set up 4 bank accounts for each of our 4 kids (16 in total). Each of the 4 bank accounts have a different online title: Savings, Investing, Spending, and Donation: So when we log into the bank on the computer screen, my oldest child, for example, will see, “Luke Savings,” “Luke Investing,” “Luke Spending,” and “Luke Donation.” He has watched these accounts grow from zero to more than $3,000 total in his 12 years on earth. The best part is that he knows that he grew them himself.
2. We have a chore chart on a big bulletin board for each child. Since they were 3 years old, they have had to mark what they’ve done every week. We pay them with real cash every Sunday, and they put that money straight into a 4-compartment piggy bank, with the same names- Savings, Investing, Spending, and Donation. This cash then goes to a nearby bank once every 90 days. The only money that they have they worked to earn, every day, over the course of their lives.
3. We have a family dinner each night and we review our family placemat, which instills our core family values, and the fact that we are an entrepreneurial family. Instead of talking about Netflix or TikTok during dinner we discuss value-generating topics like determination and learning from failures and hard work.
4. We teach our kids that building up their “failure muscle,” is a really good thing. The more times they fail, the more times they understand that failure is simply just a step on the road to success.
5. When our kids commit to an activity, we ask them to commit for the long haul. So, from the age of 5, they’ve all consistently taken martial arts, done swim team in the summers, and had piano lessons and language classes at home.
6. Every January they write down 10 goals to achieve for the year and on Sunday afternoons at the family meeting, they each give a quick update on their annual goals.
7. We encourage them to be good communicators. Even our shy child knows that “in order to be a CEO” you have to know how to communicate. To that end, at every dinner, we have a talking stick that we pass around the table to one person at a time. Only the person with the stick can talk, and Mom and Dad ask a question like “What did you fail at today?” or “What is the best lesson you have learned in your life?” or “What is a great business idea you’ve been thinking about?” In fact, at tonight’s dinner, I’m going to discuss the contents of this blog and explain why I wrote it. This may get some good conversation going with our kids, who are now ages, 6, 8, 10, and 12.
8. We often play games that use money, like Monopoly or The Game of Life and Cash Flow, so that they understand how money works. It great to watch them do the math in their heads around collecting rent or paying bills.
9. We’ve purchased a relatively inexpensive rental property near our home and we’re teaching the kids about how that business works, for example, renters, paying bills, home repairs, etc.
10. We’ve encouraged our kids from an early age to stake their own claim in life. We want to raise independent adults and we’ve taught them that after the age of 18, they are on their own and that they won’t be receiving an inheritance. They seem like stronger kids knowing this and they often say, “Dad, it’s better to teach a person to fish than to give them a fish!” Although they may be parroting back what my wife and I have told them, it’s still better than hearing, “When am I getting an upgraded iPad, you horrible Dad?!”
BUT- I can already feel the backlash. Many of you are rolling your eyes and saying to yourself, “There is NO WAY I can do all of this!” or, “It’s too late to try!” or, “They are already addicted to electronics!” or “My kids are not entrepreneurial.”
Well, my belief is that all human beings are born to be entrepreneurs. It is human nature, but today’s society beats it out of people. It’s time to beat it back into them! If we all embrace some of what is in this blog, and we put it on the ground immediately, I promise that you will be shocked by what happens.