My Huffington Post blogs usually center around financial literacy and responsibility for mothers and children, or the family as a unit. In recognition of Father's Day, I want to take this opportunity to focus on fathers' vital role in raising financially secure children.
Fathers are increasingly more involved in the raising of their children, but they still spend a great deal less time with them than mothers do. Unfortunately, the percentage of children living apart from their fathers has almost tripled -- to nearly 33 percent -- in the past 50 years.
The involvement of a father in his child's schooling is associated with the higher likelihood of the student getting higher grades and staying in school. Children who live without a father figure in the home are at least two times more likely to be poor, experience educational problems or drop out of school.
It's straightforward, your children will earn more if they have more education. They will also be less likely to become unemployed. A survey from 2012 shows that average earnings grow from $471 to $652 per week, just by earning a high school diploma. Getting a college Bachelor's degree increases average earnings to $1,066 per week. More education pays off in higher earnings. The typical bachelor's degree recipient can expect to earn about 61 percent more over a 40-year working life than the typical high school graduate earns over the same period.
Be Aware of Your Power.
A large portion of children's learning comes through observing the behavior of their parents.
- Watch the money messages you send your kids. When they see you pay with a charge or debit card, make sure that they understand that the funds are not magic. They need to know that you get a credit card bill every month that has to be paid, or the money is debited from your bank account. Explain that the only way to get money is to earn it.
- Be consistent. Be on the same financial page as your child's mother. Have agreed upon rules and stick to them. Your kids should be on an allowance and budget system from a very early age. This will help them to grow up to make wise financial choices.
- Never use money as a weapon (or a bribe) -- this is especially true for separated parents.
- Watch your words. Teach your kids that intelligence, ability and potential are gender neutral. "Lean In" for the women in your life. "Cooking is a girl's job" or "You don't have to be good in science. Boys are always better than girls in science and math." are limiting your child's potential.
- Seize the money moment. Teach your kids about money in real world lessons. When you're driving them in the car, explain why you feed the parking meter or pay tolls. Use a stop at the gas station for a lesson in math. Instead of disappearing every morning with a quick "I'm off to work," explain why you work and what kind of work you do.
- Teach your kids to be green -- saving money and the planet. The future of our planet will be in your kid's hands. I have developed a tool to help. In my free iOS (iPad/iPhone) app, GreenStreets: Shmootz Happens! kids learn about ecology by saving endangered animals and learn about economics by building a budget and earning pretend money to buy food for the animals.
- Teach your kids to give back. Children understand the basic idea that it's good to help others so charity is an easy concept to explain, but it still has to be taught. Take time to impart your personal values to your kids and discuss your favorite charities and why they are worthwhile. Let them know how you volunteer your time or make regular contributions to help those less fortunate. Get involved as a family.
Whether biological, step or adoptive, the influence of a father figure in a child's economic life is wide reaching and long lasting. Even the absence of a father figure has a lifelong effect on a child. This Father's Day take the time to appreciate your amazing gift of fatherhood.
Please share your Father's Day stories with us in the space provided.