Parenting the QBQ Way: The Financial Piece

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Note: John shares about this blog on Periscope/YouTube here:

When Miller Child #5, Charlene, landed her first job ever (at Target), she went online to view her first paycheck:


If I recall correctly, she shrieked, “I’m rich!”

Well, no, but if you manage your money well, you may be someday—especially if you avoid asking Incorrect Questions or “IQs” (visit here for a quick tutorial) such as these:

“When will I get paid more?”

“Why shouldn’t I have everything I want?”

“Who will take care of me?”

Lousy questions like those will lead any of us into victim thinking and blame. And, the odds are good that an adult who asks them probably asked these as a child:

“When will I get a bigger allowance?”

“Why do I have to do chores?”

“Who’s going to buy me the newest ___________?”

(fill in the blank!)

As parents, we touch every area of our children’s lives—physical, emotional, spiritual—but what about the financial piece? What is our accountability for sound teachings around money?

Remember the old but powerful phrase “Practice what you preach”? Isn’t it a tad hypocritical for parents who’ve done a less-than-stellar job with their finances to admonish their children to handle their dollars better? We have little right to ask IQs like, “Why did you spend all your allowance on candy?” or “When will you be more responsible with your money?” until we are working on the financial piece, too. 

When it comes to teaching money management skills to their children, many parents are looking for a magical step-by-step formula, often asking Karen and me if it’s best to use allowances, stickers, chore charts, budgets, or commissions. 

Here’s our counsel, right out of Raising Accountable Kids:

If it works for your family, then it’s a good approach. 

There is no “right” way and let’s all stop thinking that there is. 🙂

The key, though, is to first know what lessons we want to instill in our children related to money. Down through the years, we identified many simple but important lessons to pass on to the Miller kids. Here they are:

  • Spend less than you make; it’s simple math.
  • When it’s gone, it’s gone.
  • Be in debt to no one, short of owning a home.
  • Give first to those less fortunate, second to your savings account.
  • You don’t have to have what others have.
  • A used automobile will do the job.
  • Decline those offers for credit, even at your favorite store.
  • Money comes through working and we were created to work.
  • Give 100 percent on the job and you’ll always have a job.
  • Nothing is deserved—everything is earned.

Lessons like these lay a solid foundation of fiscal accountability for our kids. But before a parent attempts to teach them, it’s important to ask The Question Behind the Question (QBQ). Accountable questions like these make all the difference:

“How can I identify the traps I fall into and learn to avoid them?”
“What can I do to acquire new financial management skills?”
“How can I be an outstanding example to my children?”

Now that’s practicing what we preach!

Moms, dads … let’s take care of the financial piece.

Discussion Question: 

What good—and bad—lessons have you taught your kids about money?

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2 Responses

  1. John, I have been fortunate to have 2 adult daughters who have done well with managing money. We never lectured them on money but we talked openly about our own financial decisons and we always managed our finances well. Maybe they learned by example??

    However, I have observed a common problem in both teenagers and adults and that is the addiction to buying “stuff”. It is a powerful “high” people get from buying stuff for themselves or others and it impacts people of all ages and incomes. I am not an expert on this but have seen it overwhelm some very responsible people. I have seen some people beat it where they substituted another healthier behavior like service to others or other virtues which give to their lives meaning. Their dysfuctional buying behavoir was based upon not having something else in their life that was meaningful and healthy enough to give them a “high” without resorting to buying things. Some of QBQ questions to ask to see if you might have this issue include: Do I get a strong thrill as I buy “stuff” and later realize that must of the stuff I buy has no purpose ? When I feel down, does buying things make me feel better, does it give me a short term pickup? Do I relish the idea of showing people my new “stuff”, does it make me feel good about myself? Does the “stuff” I own strongly represent who I am as a person and how valuable I am?

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