Both my wife and I grew up in homes where our parents worked hard and took care for not only of what they labored, but also of what they had been given. When it came time for us to raise our own family, we knew we wanted to instill in our children the idea of being good stewards or guardians of the resources and gifts this life afforded. Children and adults alike seem to appreciate things more when there is the element of “ownership” or “buy-in.” When we hear the word “steward” or the term “resource management,” we most often think of money, but there are so many other “resources” that we can teach our children to be thoughtful and caring guardians of.
Much has been written regarding money management and children. Some financial gurus suggest the save, give, spend method, instructing the young in the art of taking care of personal needs and wants, while blessing others who might be in need. We definitely saw a difference in the management of monetary resources when our boys were the ones working for them. A child, or adult for that matter, is more apt to think before rapidly spending on items that are foolish or unnecessary. But, what about resources other than money, aren’t they worthy of our attention as well?
Parents, and often fathers in particular, struggle with managing time and especially time for family. This is one of the reasons it is so important to emphasize the management of the time resources right along with the financial resources. If we only focus on setting good examples in wisely using our money, what are we saying to our children? It seems that to so many people, money is more important than time, and often more important than people. They would not say that, but the way they live certainly demonstrates that value.
Of course, I am not saying that we don’t need to work hard and provide for those we love, but with the hard work ethic we need to slip in the “making the most of our time” ethic. Working smarter so we can enjoy the people and activities we love. Do you have a planner or calendar of some sort? Let your children see it. Make fun, bright, easy-to-read and understand poster calendars for your little one’s room. Have fun checking off tasks and celebrating accomplishments. Point out the glory of getting the work out of the way in such an expedient manner that your family finds extra time for that movie night.
In addition to finances and time, what about natural resources? You don’t have to make Earth Day shirts and start living off the grid, but could you run the shower less and turn the lights off in unused rooms? Little wastes and thoughtlessness adds up, and it’s so good for our children to learn the concept of conserving at a young age. My wife and I laugh about our fathers yelling, “Shut the door! I’m not paying to heat or cool the entire neighborhood!” and “Close the closet doors and turn out those lights!” It drove us nuts as kids, but we both are very careful to do all of the aforementioned because of the wisdom that comes from being responsible for the bills. Just the other day we received yet another confirmation that our now grown sons were watching us shut, close and turn out all along.
“Dad,” my oldest said over the phone, “we just got our electric bill. Seriously, it was ridiculous! Now I totally get your constantly badgering us to turn the lights out and shut the doors.” I laughed, but grimaced in hopes that this wasn’t the only thing he saw me managing well during his formative years. I didn’t have to worry for long. “It’s been a long week. I haven’t had much time at home with my wife. I went in early and stayed late tonight so we can have the whole day together tomorrow. It stunk to be at the office so long, but so worth it when I think of the family time we’ll now be getting.” Guard your galaxy, son. Guard your galaxy.