REALITY CHECK

Eight ways to teach kids how they can grow rich

Religious texts are misconstrued to mean aspiring for wealth is a sin

In Summary

• Parents play a huge role in helping their kids develop an enabling mindset 

Mummy and child
Mummy and child
Image: STAR ILLUSTRATED

Every parent wants their children to grow into wealthy adults. Turning that dream into a reality is not easy, though. Many believe growing rich is a matter of fate and the right connections, but is it?

Some families spawn generation after generation of success. There are families of doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs; the trend can be seen in almost every known profession. This clearly cannot be down to plain luck. There must be something they are doing right.

Good news is that parents play a huge role in helping their kids develop an enabling mindset that could put them on the path to wealth. Parents may be rich or poor, but regardless of background, inculcating the right mix of attitudes, beliefs and motivation is crucial to a child’s future success.

 

There's a popular Swahili proverb that says, "Mtoto umleavyo ndivyo akuavyo." To explain for the benefit of non-Swahili speakers, the proverb says individuals are a product of their upbringing. With that proverb in mind, it is possible to look at the attributes of wealthy people, then work backwards to find out how to get there.

1. Lead by example

"Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them," wrote James Baldwin, an African American author.

Actions speak louder than words. Parents should examine their behaviour when it comes to money, work and business because children learn by observing. A positive work ethic provides the foundation for financial success.

Children develop negative attitudes when they hear their parents perpetually complain about their boss and fellow employees. Treat other people with respect and children will learn from you that positive characteristic. Wealthy people generally (not all) are respectful to the people who work for them.

The first place where children learn financial management is at home. If you are good at saving and investing, your children are likely to make similar choices in future. Conversely, if you are always in debt and getting harassed by auctioneers, your children may pick up on it and could land into similar problems as adults. 

2. Inculcate practical attitudes about wealth

The misinterpretation of religious texts makes it seem as though aspiring for wealth is a sin. It is written in the Bible that the love of money is the root of all evil. This is meant to warn people from placing money as the primary motivational force in life, that is, worshipping money. Money is good when used to fulfil one's needs and those of society because everything we do requires money.

 

Nobody can realise their full potential without money. You can't pay for housing without money, pay for water, wear clean clothes or feed your family. It is impossible to actively participate in society without cold, hard cash. It is impossible to exercise leadership in society without money, for money turns plans into reality.

Religious institutions need money to function, and that's why worshippers give offerings. Children should, therefore, not be shamed into stifling their ambitions of growing rich. They should be guided on socially acceptable ways of growing wealthy.

3. Education! Education! Education!

It is a fact that formal education lifts people out of poverty. Obviously, the higher the level of education an individual attains, the more choices they have and the higher their incomes. Parents should educate their children to the highest possible level the family can afford. This also means parents playing an active role to support their children's education by encouraging excellence.

Career choice, too, is a determining factor for success, but it's often left to chance. "Your child cannot choose a career for themselves. You must guide them, silently but actively. Have a vision. Then make them meet people in the field, books, videos and media over years to mould their minds in that direction," says Mihr Thakar, a Mombasa resident.

4. Build their self-esteem

Confident individuals have a much greater chance of attaining financial prosperity. Confident people speak with authority, are assertive about their rights and are not afraid of seeking the things they need to succeed. Spend time with your children, get to know their talents and encourage them to strive for excellence. Make them understand that money comes from taking initiative and hard work. There's no such thing as easy money. They should not take rejection too hard but instead learn from it.

5. First impressions count!

It sucks that strangers judge us within the first few minutes of an initial encounter. First impressions are not just about appearance, they are also about attitudes. There are many things outside our control, but personal attitude is very much within our abilities. A positive attitude affects how an individual approaches people and events. Choosing to approach people positively, confidently, enthusiastically and with a helpful attitude creates a memorable impression.

6. Teach them the culture of giving

Many wealthy people are generous, especially to worthy causes. Anybody, regardless of income or life circumstances, can contribute to society. Talk to your children about the importance of giving in the community, whether with money or in-kind contributions. Quite importantly, children should understand that they should give without expecting favours in return.

7. Keeping good company

There's an ancient proverb teaching how bad company corrupts good morals. We all are influenced by the people with whom we spend much of our time. Children should be empowered enough to reject bad company because friends can influence life-changing decisions.

8. Time management skills

Ever kept a rich person waiting? What was their reaction when you finally showed up? Punctuality is among the key attributes of the wealthy. Time wasted is never recovered. Parents should find ways of keeping their children occupied instead of spending all their time on entertainment. As the saying goes, people who spend all their time watching television will never get to be on television.

In traditional African societies, the raising of children was the community's responsibility. In that sense, here's another proverb: If the wise elders of the village don't teach the children, the village idiots will do.