It’s true: your children do, eventually, come back and thank you. At least my second son did last week. Home on furlough from the mission field in Haiti, he said to my husband in a conversation, “You know the best thing you ever taught me Dad was how to be responsible.” He later added that the second best thing we taught him was how to do something with his money, rather than let it sit in his bank account collecting pennies. Teaching your children to survive in our current economy is not as difficult or intimidating as it might sound. To impart responsibility, present children with opportunities to fail and be there to pick up the pieces when they do. I know that might sound cold-hearted, but many parents coddle and protect their children from failure while themselves failing to teach them to survive in the world. I would rather watch my children make mistakes while living at home, than after they marry and have a family to support. Here are a few practical examples of what I’m talking about. Teaching Responsibility The toddler can and should pick up his own toys, fold the towels, set the table, and make his bed. The elementary-aged child should be able to do all of the above with better skill and take care of animals, fold the laundry, or clean out the car. The middle-aged child should work alongside Mom or Dad using dangerous power tools and household appliances. You see what I mean. Although we do offer to pay our children for extra jobs around the place, they have always had regular chores that they do just because they are part of the family—not for an allowance. In addition to chores or work, we have given our children added responsibilities with their interests. For instance, our oldest son apprenticed to learn blacksmithing while in high school. He wanted his own forge. That interest motivated him to get a summer job to earn the money to buy an anvil, forge, and other equipment. And since he needed a building to house his new-found hobby, he built one on the back of our property from repurposed construction waste. When our missionary son was about 9 years old he wanted a pet snake. So when I asked him what he knew about taking care of snakes, this reluctant reader checked every book on snakes out of the public library and read them. Because he was responsible enough to do his research, and save the money to purchase the snake and all the necessary supplies, he got his new pet. In fact, we kept snakes (and a slew of other animals) in our home for years to satisfy his interests. Practical Investments for Children But quarters and dimes from “pay jobs” fit for a 9 year old did not fund this interest. He had other income . From a very young age my husband taught the boys to scrap metal and recycle aluminum cans. My 8 year old never goes into a thrift store without checking all the tableware and other silver pieces for sterling. He knows its value and frequently asks about the current price. Just last week, seeing me heading toward the trash can with a broken radio, my 11 year old said, “Cut the cord off, Mom.” He knows he can strip off the plastic to find value copper inside. We’ve also taught the boys to buy things at yard sales to re-sell in our family’s flea market booth or in the classifieds. One son picked up a snow board for a couple dollars. He promptly sold it for 5 times what he paid. My husband has taught them the value of antiques and collectibles, vintage items, and tools. In fact, when a new flea market opened just a couple miles from home, our boys were one of the first in line to rent a booth for themselves. All of our children began making crafts at a young age —which developed into real skills before graduating high school. My woodworker son began selling his hand-carved roosters in local craft shows when he was only 11 years old, apprenticed with a cabinet maker his senior year of high school, and now can create beautiful pieces of fine furniture. That is just one example. We may not be investment savvy when it comes to stocks, IRA accounts, or certificates of deposit; but we know how to take everyday items that people need and turn them into cash. And, in turn, we teach our children to survive. How have you taught your children to survive? Are they prepared for life? Share your tips in the comments below! Children laughing image from Shutterstock Related Articles: How to give your children financial stability and eliminate the entitlement mentality Obeying God & Paying Cash For A Home (Reader Story) How much does it cost to raise a child & 10 ways to cut the cost! 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How to Teach Your Children to Survive: Our Story