How to Raise Successful Children

by Krantcents · 50 comments

Post image for How to Raise Successful Children

Raising successful children is not easy!  I am not a child psychologist, child psychiatrist or an expert in early childhood development nor do I play one on TV.  I am an educator, but I started that career after my children graduated college.   I won’t even take all the credit; my wife had a part in my children’s success too.  What did we do that helped them succeed? 

Background 

If you are expecting that my wife and I read a bunch of books or took classes, you will be disappointed.  We were no different than anybody else, although we did wait five (5) years to have children.  There were little things that got in the way!  I was drafted into the army, graduate school and starting my career to name just a few.  Our careers were pretty well set and we bought our first home.  Our first child came along (7 weeks) early.  There were some really scary moments in the first thirty (30) days with a premature baby.  It helped that I had a nursery RN (my wife) on staff!

It was touch and go in the beginning!  She only weighed 3 lbs 12 oz and a lot can go wrong.  Her education started from day one.  My wife played various kinds of music in her room.  We talked to her all the time.  She also heard us talk all the time she was awake.  We read to her often too.  It is important for children to hear language.  She heard (classical, jazz and rock n roll) music, spoken word and written word of all kinds. This is how children develop language skills.

Reading was always an important part of her day.  My wife and I always read to her every night before she went to sleep.  More importantly, she saw us reading.  Children learn from what they see you do than what you say to do.  My son came along about three and a half years later.  We did the same things with him. When our children show a curiosity in reading when they were between three (3) and four (4) years old, we taught them how to read.  It is no secret that reading and learning is the beginning of the journey to success.

The Early Years

As a financial blogger and former CFO, you think I will talk about early money education.  I did not teach my children about money until they received their first allowance which was much later, although they probably saw a great deal.  My wife was a stay at home mom and a part time RN.  She worked approximately twenty (20) hours a week, but only one of us was absent for two (2) hours a week.  She worked one or two evenings and a Saturday.  Weekends were my time to entertain the children with museums, live theater, concerts, library, games, books, playing with friends and occasionally I would take them to work.  I put them in the conference room adjoining my office or at a table with paper and materials.

My children were voracious readers; my daughter read a book in two (2) days and my son would read my Wall Street Journal!   Although it was a children’s book (100-125 pages), she went through a hundred (100) books pretty quickly.  Luckily she did not mind rereading the books.  My son would read everything he could get his hands on including my Wall Street Journal.  He would read late into the night, we had to put the lights out at 10 PM.  My children were part of our adult world, when friends came over.  They interacted with adults at work very easily.  Their lives were filled with activities that ranged from sports (gymnastics & swimming) to learning magic.  Their English teacher was a professional magician who taught magic.

Activities are an important part of development; it is not just a way to keep your children busy.  They learned a lot from these activities such as self esteem, physical movement, physical activity, social skills, competition and teamwork.  School was a very important component too.  Although our children went to private school, we were very involved in their education.  High expectations and monitoring their progress is important in their development.  We did all the typical parent things like helping with homework and attending open house at school.

Teenage Years

Our children were exposed to everything my wife and I did in life.  My wife and I took our children to work before it was fashionable!  When my children went to work with me, they met business people.  When they went to work with my wife, they met doctors, nurses and medical people. They were curious and asked questions or just talked to the various people.  They learned a lot through these experiences.  My son played a lot of sports such as baseball, soccer, football and wrestling in high school.  My daughter was in girl scouts and swimming.

My son was young for his grade level because he skipped a grade.  In his senior year in high school, he was the starting center for their championship football team.  He was a scholar athlete with a 3.6 GPA and eighteen AP credits.  He also won the public speaking award.  His sister had a 3.8 GPA and achieved the Gold Award n Girl Scouts.  The Gold Award is the highest achievement in Girl Scouting similar to the Eagle Scout award in Boy Scouts.  My children went on to UC Santa Barbara with partial or full merit scholarships.

Personal Finance Education

Although I exposed my children to every aspect of personal finance, it was never a sit down kind of instruction.  As I said, I would take my children to work employee and employer.  When I owned my businesses, I would take them to work on vacations or weekends.  They loved to come to the restaurant for the food, but they worked for it.  My daughter would draw drinks during lunch and both f them cleared tables and stacked trays.  It was a great learning experience for them.  They attended meetings with apartment managers, real estate brokers and were involved with the day to day running of the business.

During these teenage years, they received an allowance and were required to save fifty percent (50%).  I helped them invest their money in the stock market and they saw how they could make money in a variety of ways.  When they turned sixteen (16) years old, they wanted to buy their first car.  To motivate them to save, I matched their money earned or saved so they could buy a car.  Although we did not let them work during high school, they did have summer jobs.  My daughter worked retail and my son gravitated to food.  I think they learned a lot from the experience. They were required to pay for their own gas and maintenance of their car.

Sometimes education occurs when you are not looking!  I asked my children when they were adults what if anything we did to help them be successful.  Much to my surprise, they told me it was what we did in our daily lives that influenced them most of all.  You mean it was’t the expensive private school or all the time we spent together?  No, it was my wife and I as role models!  They saw how we handled our money, investments, business, social issues etc.  I know that this is what it should be, but I was surprised!

Final Thoughts

Bringing up successful children is not easy!  To summarize what I think is important starts with spending a lot of time with my children.  They may have taken lessons, participated in sports or scouting, but we were always there.  We were at the events, games and my wife was an assistant Girl Scout leader.  Why does this matter?  Children want your time and it is the most precious thing you can give your children.  It builds that important relationship that allows you to influence your children.  Who knows, they may have turned out just fine without it, but who wants to experiment?  Raising successful children takes a lot of time!

Photo by:  jonny hunter

Carnivals:

Yakezie Carnival at Making The Life You Want
Y and T’s Weekend Ramblings at Young and Thrifty.ca
Carnival of MoneyPros at The Savvy Scot
Finance Carn. for Young Adults at PF Carny
Carnival of Retirement at Midlife Finance

Raising successful children takes a lot of time!

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{ 42 comments }

John @ Debt Advice Resource March 28, 2013 at 2:14 am

I have a couple young children too and often questioned, what enables our children to thrive successfully? What mistakes do I make that influence their future?

We all want to give our children the best start in life until they are at an age where they can make their own decisions. In the end, like you mentioned above, it’s the day to day guidance they pick up. They notice I like to use computers, read books, go for walks, spend family time together and talk to each other openly. I think as parents we pass on our traits to our children, which is why I’ve stopped running late in the morning… fail to plan, plan to fail.

Krantcents March 28, 2013 at 7:49 am

Children learn a great deal from parents from what they do versus what they say. Give them a lot of opportunities to make decisions before they have to make important decisions. Making decisions needs practice!

John @ Debt Advice Resource March 29, 2013 at 2:07 am

Couldn’t agree more. We learn through experience and children grow from the information their parents impart. Children naturally want to please their parents so it’s no surprise they would follow in their footsteps and copy their actions.

Krantcents March 29, 2013 at 7:43 am

We are our children’s role models and we should remember that.

My Financial Independence Journey March 28, 2013 at 2:43 am

Children will pick up on what their parents do every day. I certainly did. Even the things that I used to say were stupid, I now find myself doing automatically.

I certainly picked up my parent’s frugality/cheapness. Unfortunately, the rest of my financial education had to occur on its own.

Kudos to you for teaching your kids about aggressive savings and investing.

Krantcents March 28, 2013 at 7:54 am

Thanks! As a parent, you do a lot of things and hope it sticks. Occasionally, I am surprised when my children do something that I used to talk about. You just never know.

Miss Thrifty March 28, 2013 at 3:57 am

I love the idea of giving them an allowance, but requiring them to save half of it. Getting them into the habit early! When I think of all the rubbish I used to fritter my money on in my teenage years. The funny thing is, I love to save. Thrifty Baby is still little, but I am noting this one down for future use…

Krantcents March 28, 2013 at 7:56 am

Thanks, sometimes the simplest things work the best! I remember my parents telling me that I needed to save for the things I wanted versus the things I needed. I chose a different approach!

Greg@ClubThrifty March 28, 2013 at 4:50 am

Well, I’m right at the beginning of this experiment called parenthood. Spending a lot of time with our kids is paramount to us. We feel that our attention breeds happiness and confidence. Each day, we try to set a good example for our kids. Hopefully, it will stick :D

Krantcents March 28, 2013 at 7:58 am

Just remember that you will make mistakes, but the goal is to do more right than wrong. If you spend a lot of time with your children, you will have greater influence with them.

John S @ Frugal Rules March 28, 2013 at 6:37 am

“Children want your time and it is the most precious thing you can give your children.” I could not agree more! Children, especially when younger, are just like sponges and are learning so much. Spending time with ours is our main objective in addition to giving them opportunities to learn about new and different things.

Krantcents March 28, 2013 at 8:01 am

It seems like yesterday, I was taking care of my children on Saturdays. Time goes very fast and you want to have some influence on them.

Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies March 28, 2013 at 7:11 am

Raising kids is definitely one thing that I worry about in the kids/no kids dilemma. Both Mr. PoP and I feel like we did pretty well in terms of growing up to be relatively sane and responsible members of society, but we each have a sibling that has struggled with becoming a contributing member of society. And you can’t really attribute it to parenting since we both had VERY different styles of parenting that we were raised with. It makes me really feel like there’s a big crapshoot and no real guarantee how it’ll turn out.

Krantcents March 28, 2013 at 8:05 am

Very true! Whether it is your children or the children I have in my classes, it is a crapshoot. I try to influence the children and I am always surprised what works. It may be a positive statement or encouraging word that works.

Grayson @ Debt RoundUp March 28, 2013 at 7:19 am

I am only 3 months into the journey to raise a successful child. At this time, there is not much I can do, but read to him and play with him, but later down the road, there will be many lessons to be taught.

Krantcents March 28, 2013 at 8:07 am

Talk to your child so he/she can hear a lot of language. I used to love to hear my children laugh and show them a lot of things.

Tony@WeOnlyDoThisOnce March 29, 2013 at 4:47 am

Great insight from your varied experiences. Great post.

Krantcents March 29, 2013 at 7:47 am

Thanks, It takes a multitude of skills to help children succeed.

Alan@escapingmydebt March 29, 2013 at 6:00 am

Great article. I am sure it takes a lot of time to raise a successful child. Unfortunately for me, my parents were divorced when I was 6 forcing my dad to work two jobs while he supported me and my brother. Our grandparents lived with us so they watched us a lot but with the generation gap and lack of understanding I had to figure a lot of stuff out on my own but did take mental notes on a lot of things my dad did. I think I learned more through observation than his teaching me about things like that.

Krantcents March 29, 2013 at 7:48 am

Thanks, my children pointed out that they learned much more from how we did things versus all the things we may have told them.

Brick By Brick Investing | Marvin March 29, 2013 at 1:23 pm

As a father this article resonates deeply with me. All too often my wife and I discuss if we’re doing the proper things to raise our children.
Are we being too lenient?
Are we being too strict?
Sometimes I think we are our own worst enemy. Contrary to popular belief children do not come with a how to manual ;-)

One thing my wife and I agreed on very quickly was that we needed to read to our children and read to them often. It is a breath of fresh air to know that you have done that with your children and it turned out well.

Krantcents March 29, 2013 at 1:28 pm

Thank you, My wife was an early advocate of reading to our children. It was a wonderful opportunity to have alone time with each child with something enjoyable.

Ashley March 29, 2013 at 3:49 pm

This is such an interesting topic, because my dad was not a CFO or a businessman. He sold carbide tools, door-to-door to machine shops and never made much money. We lived with another family growing up, and my dad gave me the bigger room while he slept in the basement. I owe all of my financial smarts to him. By witnessing his sacrifices and by showing me how to live a frugal but happy life, I was able to save enough to put myself through school and be debt free despite living in NYC. Just being a role model to your kids and showing them the value of money is a great way to raise successful kids (like me!!) :)

Krantcents March 29, 2013 at 6:00 pm

Very true! Children learn more from what you do than what you say.

CashRebel March 29, 2013 at 4:46 pm

This sounds a lot like how my parents raised me. Instead of just telling us to read more, I’d see them relaxing with a book on the weekends. You gotta live your values if you want to pass them on.

Krantcents March 29, 2013 at 6:01 pm

I think children are much smarter and more aware of what goes on than parents realize. You can teach them by example what they shouldn’t do or what they should do. I glad you had good role models!

Jim March 29, 2013 at 8:46 pm

Great post Krantcents, I think about this frequently as this is something I will certainly concentrate on. We have one girl 3 years old, and she will most likely be an only child. I am certain to be very active in her rearing, so this post is great reminder of the importance of being involved. Thank you for sharing your story!

Krantcents March 30, 2013 at 8:22 am

Thanks, reading is just one way to foster a great relationship. Spending a lot of time with your child doing many of the things I described helps too.

Alexis Marlons March 30, 2013 at 5:53 am

My children are still very young and I often wonder how to raise them to become successful ones. Even right now that they are just very little kids, I am already having a hard time how to discipline them without being so authoritative.

Krantcents March 30, 2013 at 8:28 am

It was always a matter of choices. If one of our children misbehaved, he/she made a choice. There are consequences to any choice which meant a time out or giving up something. It seemed to work with our children.

Darwin's Money March 30, 2013 at 7:09 pm

We definitely talk to our kids a lot about money. Our 8 year old is most interested as the oldest, but we’ve started a banking system with him and our 6 year old so they can learn about saving and having the discipline to not spend it. We let them make mistakes. When there’s a fad that comes through and kids start collecting as many of some stupid plastic toy as they can, we let our oldest spend his money on tons of these silly bandz things. He kept buying more and more with his money. After a couple months, nobody was wearing them any more and he had completely forgotten about them. I said, “remember how much money you spent on those silly bandz? that was a fad”. He has never forgotten that and now today when he sees commercials on TV, he tells his little brother, “it’s just a fad”. Little stuff like that sticks with kids. We let them make mistakes while they’re young enough that they won’t hurt them.

Krantcents March 31, 2013 at 7:40 am

Very true! This the best time to make mistakes because the consequences are relatively small. I agree they learn a great deal from the mistakes.

Wayne @ VisualFin March 30, 2013 at 9:47 pm

I think it’s great that you kept your children so active and involved in many different things. Too many parents are fine with children sitting in front of the TV for hours. I believe that stimulus is the key.

Krantcents March 31, 2013 at 7:42 am

Thanks, I think some parents use TV as a babysitter. The only times my children were in front of the TV was with us and it was after they did their work.

Cat@BudgetBlonde April 1, 2013 at 7:15 am

Congratulations on raising two amazing kids. Spending a lot of time with my kids is what I hope to do the very most. My parents had very intense jobs growing up, and because of that, we were able to do many extraordinary things. However, I did miss them growing up (and still do) despite the work ethic they instilled in me from watching them work so hard. All that said, I hope to have a lot of one on one time with my children when they do make it into this world. :)

Krantcents April 1, 2013 at 7:33 am

Spending time with our children is probably one of the most rewarding things you can do. It makes it a lot easier to influence their lives.

Untemplater April 7, 2013 at 10:54 pm

Sounds like you have great kids and it must have been a lot of fun raising them since you included them in so many activities. My parents were anti social so I didn’t get exposure to many other people and such. We did go on a decent number of road trips though which were a lot of fun.

Krantcents April 8, 2013 at 7:20 am

I think interesting would be a better description. A lot of times, I had no choice, but it was an great experience for them.

KC @ genxfinance April 11, 2013 at 5:46 am

Have you seen the movie Parental Guidance? A must watch to all families. I think that we all have a lesson or two we can learn about the movie and how we raise our children.

Krantcents April 11, 2013 at 7:04 am

No, I haven’t. My approach came from trial and error and learned what worked with my children.

Janette April 28, 2013 at 7:29 am

The first thing we realize is how blessed we were that they were born with no lasting challenges in intelligence or physical areas. We could then build on that wonderful genetic platform.
Thirty years ago I asked advice from mom of two very successful, happy adults, who obviously cared for each other and their parents. She said, “Love them in all challenges. Remember your winning is not the most important thing. Teach them one team and one individual sport. Most of all, your job is not to make mini me, it is to raise a person who will love the community and others just as much as they love themselves- sometimes even more. “

Krantcents April 28, 2013 at 7:40 am

I agree with everything you said! in addition, I wanted independent, thoughtful, loving adults. Whether it was nature or nurture, they turned out great.

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