Teens have more discretionary income than any other age group, and they spend most of it foolishly. I don’t know of any study that evaluates differences between young people in Christian homes versus secular ones, but I’d guess the spending of teen discretionary income in both types of homes to be about the same. Like many areas of training, we need to trust the Holy Spirit of God to capture our children’s hearts while at the same time taking opportunities to teach them to obey His Word. We teach them by our instruction, our example, and our guidance as they begin at young ages to manage their money wisely.
Do your kids know what a “steward” is? Do they find their identity in the things they own? Perhaps you could act out the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14 and following) and do Bible studies about topics like contentment, generosity, and covetousness. You can also help them identify faulty messages about these things in all kinds of advertising — as well as their own heart attitudes. Feel free to share your own struggles with having a right relationship to possessions — the ones you have as well as the ones you wish you had. In a society when materialism runs rampant, taming our covetous hearts is definitely a challenge. Songs and stories such as “Simple Living” by Keith and Kristyn Getty, “Evidence Not Seen” by Darlene Daibler Rose, and “You Are Mine” by Max Lucado can also help reinforce relevant biblical truths.
Do your kids know that you give? Do they realize that there’s sacrifice involved? This can be hard if your church allows you to give electronically, but some churches with electronic giving give you cards to put in the offering to represent the fact that you’ve already given. And while you might not want your children to know all the details of your income and bank account, it might be helpful for them to know that what you gave to missions last year meant eating at home an extra meal each month or nixing that extra mini-vacation.
Do your kids have money of their own? Do they have opportunities to give? They don’t need a lot of money to learn the concept of giving, but they do need some. For young children, pennies can be earned, if only once a year at Christmas (see #4 & #5 in this blog post). If you give a child a dollar for allowance, give it to him in dimes, allowing him to decide how many to give [back] to the Lord. If your church has children’s church during the offering, consider keeping your child in the main service once a month to facilitate participation in this aspect of worship.
There are also some great resources out there to help you train your kids to be good stewards and generous givers:
• The book “Money Matters for Kids” [http://www.christianbook.com/money-matters-for-kids-new-edition/larry-burkett/9780802446350/pd/46353] by Larry Burkett
• The 3-part “My Giving Bank” [http://christian-book-store.christiansunite.com/502702/My-Giving-Bank.shtml] from Larry Burkett
• “Junior’s Clubhouse” online tools from Dave Ramsey [http://kids.daveramsey.com/].