Kallani, a woman from Bangladesh, and her family were suffering from poverty and hunger. The family owned a cow but it didn’t even produce enough milk for her own family, let alone enough to provide a much-needed income. Through the help of the global humanitarian organization CARE, Kallani learned the best ways to feed a cow to stimulate milk production. Since the ideal feed wasn’t available in her town, they helped her secure a provider and taught her to negotiate prices. As a result, Kallani’s cow produced not only enough milk for her her family, but a surplus to sell. She now goes door-to-door teaching her neighbors how to increase their milk production like she did. She even started a business selling feed and turned her family’s life around.
I love learning of stories of change and empowerment throughout the world. Having lived in a third world country for a bit, I have definitely seen the huge need for humanitarian service. The media definitely doesn’t give enough attention to all the good that is going on and change that is taking place.
Not only was I amazed and inspired as I read story after story of the innovative ways that CARE is making a difference, I couldn’t help but distill their method down to a lesson in personal finance and parenting.
The reason CARE’s projects are successful is that they help people help themselves. Rather than simply give the people what they need, they teach them the skills and principles that allow them to continue to provide for themselves long after the assistance is gone. Besides self-sufficiency and self-reliance, this method also breeds self-confidence and self-respect.
I can’t help but think of the classic proverb, “Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime.”
Organizations that are concerned with teaching people to fish instead of just handing out fish are the kind of organizations that initiate change and make a lasting difference.
So what is the personal finance and parenting lesson here?
Financially speaking, are we giving our children fish or teaching them to fish?
Do we regularly buy or give our children everything they want? Do we give our children spending money without a second thought? Are we always bailing our kids (even adult kids) out of their financial trouble?
If so, we are essentially giving our children fish. We are solving their immediate problem, but not giving them the skills and confidence them solve future problems.
On the other hand, when we teach our children to earn and save their own money to buy things that they want, they are learning practical skills they can apply throughout life. When children (or adults) have the chance to feel the consequences of poor financial choices, they learn valuable lessons. Our children will be better off learning these lessons when they are young and the stakes are low.
I will admit that there are many times that it’s quicker and easier to give our children the proverbial fish, than to teach them to catch their own fish. However, when we take the extra time and effort to teach our children to fish for themselves, they will reap a lasting reward.
Tips for Teaching Kids Financial Responsibility
- Give kids opportunities to earn money
- Help them to choose how to spend, save, and give their money
- Teach kids the value of work
- Stop giving children everything they want
- Model patience rather than instant gratification
- Start talking about money when they are young
When we focus on ways we can help our children to help themselves, we empower them to be successful. While it’s tempting (and often easiest in the moment) to solve our children’s problems by giving them what they want and need, they will be more responsible, resourceful, independent, and grateful when they learn to do things for themselves instead of being given everything they need.
Now that you are committed to empower your children to be responsible financial stewards, take a look at some of the life-changing ways that CARE is empowering people all over the world to change their circumstances and better their lives. Be sure to read the stories about saving lives with pink bed sheets, preventing malaria with goat poop, and making fog drinkable. I promise you’ll be inspired!
How About You?
- What are you doing to empower your children financially?
- In what other aspects of life are you “teaching your children to fish?”
- Which innovative CARE project is your personal favorite?
Thanks to CARE for sponsoring this post. Did you know that the term “care package” originated in 1945 with the food packages that CARE sent to war-torn Europe after WWII? Now the term is synonymous with thoughtful gifts that people send to loved ones.