A Bonus Chapter from the book The MoneySmart Family System
I (Annette) would like to spend some time with you as a mom and share three important areas of life to strengthen you and your ability to raise a MoneySmart family. I asked some dear friends to work with me to identify several concepts that we’ve all found valuable in being the best we can be as: a parent, a homemaker, and a wife
Being a Parent
- Blessing. Remember that children can be a tremendous blessing to our lives, especially when you pour your life into them.
- Discipline. Discipline is foundational to raising a MoneySmart child. Children need to know that there are limits when it comes to obedience, manners and social skills. If this is a weak area in your life, search through the myriads of books on parenting from your library, reading as many as you can until you find what works for your family.
- Rivalries. Sibling rivalry can destroy a family, so don’t ever stop teaching your kids to value each other. And make sure you don’t play favorites with any of your kids. Each child has unique gifted abilities, help them find their strengths and develop them. If your family loves music, let each child play a different instrument, not the same one. Or, if you’re a sporting family, allow each child to play a different sport—this minimizes comparisons in abilities.
- Heritage. Family traditions should be evaluated with each generation and the freedom to change allowed. For example; always cook a specific stuffing or vegetable on Thanksgiving; or insisting that every child in our family becomes a doctor. Important values must be intentionally taught, seldom are they transferred by exposure alone.
- Involvement. Be involved in your kids’ lives whether it’s school, sports or other clubs. The more you are involved, the more successful your kids will be.
- Gratitude. If your kids are ungrateful for all you do, don’t give up. Most kids eventually mature and will express their gratitude for the sacrifices you’ve made. We don’t parent to be acknowledged, we parent because it’s our responsibility.
- Take the plunge. If you’ve ever wanted your home to be your career, don’t hesitate to make the leap. Society says that being a homemaker is insignificant, but nothing could be further from the truth. The effort that you put into your home and children is crucial.
- Recharge yourself. Be sure you develop some hobbies that will:
- Give you some “Me” time;
- Possibly help your family financially; and
- Help you transition into the empty nest years. I have enjoyed planting a garden, canning and preserving food, sewing, crafting and singing, all of which I can continue to master as the kids leave home.
- Where is home? Don’t worry about living in a house that isn’t in the best neighborhood in town. With you there, the neighborhood will be made better. Our first home was in a lower income rental neighborhood, but I worked hard to develop relationships with all of the neighbors. When one young mom lost her husband in a construction accident; I coordinated the neighbors to bring her meals. And when I heard that another neighbor was very sick I delivered another meal. Everyone is busy, but getting to know your neighbors is so important. Larger homes require more maintenance, taxes, utilities and take more time to clean. Our home should be a place of peace for our family and others, not a status symbol. Our true identity is not in our possessions, but in our character.
- Just a homemaker! Being a homemaker is so much more than “glorified babysitting” or “Catering to your husband’s every whim,” or “woman’s work!” Being a maker of your home is a challenge and a life-long adventure. Never are two days the same.
- One Income. If you plan on being home with your children or being a full-time homemaker and living on one income, then from the start of your marriage don’t incorporate two incomes into your everyday budget or expenses. Put aside one income for larger purchases like a car, appliances, furniture or vacations, or building your emergency fund and retirement accounts.
- Be blessed. If you have a loving, supportive husband, count your blessings.
- Get together. If you and your spouse aren’t on the same page for parenting or finances, read as many books as you can or meet with a third party. Devote yourself to resolving these critical issues.
- All Alone? If you feel like you’re parenting alone, even though you’re married, hang in there. There is always hope that your husband will become as committed as you are. Develop an emotional support group from other women who share your values so you can spend time together and encourage each other. Just make sure that you don’t share the shortcomings of your husband—your friends can’t fix this.
- Get Help! If you both come from dysfunctional families, don’t despair. Your own family can be the one to break the cycle. You can start over! Get counsel and support. Healing can happen and your kids can feel loved and secure.
- Overhead. Many families could live on one income if they had no debt. If you’re in debt and dealing with unemployment or disability, use this opportunity to downsize your lifestyle so you can manage the hard times better.
- Contentment. If your husband is working to provide for your family, make-do with what he earns. There is no specific income level that qualifies a man to be a provider, but creatively living on what your husband earns brings peace. Rarely does a second income resolve financial struggles. With additional income come added expenses and stress that most people don’t consider.
- Heart Matters. Try to learn the heart of your husband. Discover his gifts; his favorite hobbies; his family’s values and traditions—help him develop his talents or participate with him, if possible.
- Talk it out. Communicate carefully and gently with your husband when something bothers or hurts you. Most men cannot read a woman’s mind.
- Leadership. Women can lead the way in many situations. You can initiate new adventures and traditions in your family even if your husband is indifferent or unsupportive. One woman we know is married to a computer game designer—basically a non-outdoors-type. She wanted her kids to experience some nature. She made her plans by securing a roadside assistance plan, getting the car checked out, gathering supplies for the trip and found another adult to accompany her and the kids for the day. They hiked in the woods and saw lots of harmless wildlife along with some awesome views and lots of pine trees. It was a day that her kids will always remember. You can lead the way by loving, cherishing and experiencing new things, and your family will benefit.
Although a difficult subject to discuss, we’ve known of some families that looked completely normal on the outside, but years later we learned that horrible abuse was occurring on the inside. If there is abuse going on in your home—be it sexual, physical, verbal or mental/emotional, and whether it comes from your spouse or you—get help immediately. Children should not be the victims of their parents’ dysfunction. If your spouse has crossed the line of physical abuse with you once, more will likely follow. This type of dysfunction is rarely corrected without specific intervention or therapy.
If your spouse is abusive and you haven’t had the courage to leave with the kids because you don’t know what would happen to you, do it anyway! Every city in America has a shelter for abused women where they can bring their kids. No one deserves abuse from anyone. Call the Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), a trusted friend or reliable family member, but make the call.
Ladies, you are beautiful and the world desperately needs us. Making your home and family your highest priority is something you will never regret. Work hard, be tired and finish strong!