Isn’t she just the cutest little thing you’ve ever seen? This is our oldest daughter, Maddie. Normally I’m not fond of putting the kids’ pics out there in the Internet world, but Maddie’s already somewhat out in the public eye because, at age 11, she published her first fiction work.
Because of the financial mistakes Rick and I have made, it’s been a huge goal of ours to teach our children to make their own way so that they’re not dependent on an employer for survival. We believe strongly that while it’s perfectly fine to work for someone else, a backup plan of earning income, or multiple streams of income-earning, you could call it, is all the more important in today’s unstable economy.
So when Maddie showed signs of being a gifted writer, we ran with it. She published her (affiliate link) first book about a year and a half ago, and books two and three in the series are coming out in March/April.
Our goal is to teach each of the kids which streams of income fit their talents best, so that they are already earning income, and knowing how to create income, by the time they graduate high school. How do we do it? Here are some tips:
1. Be observant. We are all given gifts of some type. What are your child’s gifts? Are they creative? Organized? Helpful? Make a commitment to know your child well enough that you know where their giftings are. Maddie’s desire to write really took off after Rick experienced a job layoff in 2010. The experience was difficult for her, and she channeled her stress into lots and lots of writing.
When I took the time to read what she’d written, I realized that she truly had a gift here. The kid could write fiction better than many adult-authored fiction books I’d read.
Your child has gifts too. Figure out what they are, and how your child could use those gifts to produce income. Does he/she love to bake? Maybe they could provide muffins and cookies for local small businesses during their meetings. (Check your state food prep/selling laws first). Is your child a computer whiz? We’ve got a friend whose son started providing IT help at age 11 or so. He’s really good, and charges WAY less than an adult professional out there, so he has his own computer repair/set up biz and is doing pretty well at it. You could also set up a small stock trade account with stocks that pay dividends, and have your child put some into the account for growing his account. Teach him/her how to analyze and trade stocks.
No matter what your child’s gifts and talents are, they can be used in some way to create income. It’ll take some time on your part, but will be well worth it when you send your child out into the world with a knowledge of how to create income instead of just teaching them to wait for someone else to pay them.
2. Be objective. I’ll never forget when I first realized that Rick simply didn’t get that all parents think they’re kids are the best. He said to me “Isn’t it funny how everyone thinks they’re kids are the cutest, but ours really are the cutest?”. :-).
We need to be careful when nurturing or promoting our kids’ gifts and talents to make sure we’re being objective. Does your child truly have a gift for a particular line of work, or are you just seeing their talents through the mommy/daddy rose-colored glasses?
Seek the opinions of those who will be honest with you about your child’s talent in a particular area, and focus on the areas that your kids really do have a gift for.
3. Be listening. No matter how gifted your child may be at something, if she/he doesn’t like it, you should never force them into creating a business out of it. Maddie, along with being a tremendous writer, is a gifted singer. We’ve had total strangers in the music industry come up to us and say things like “You know, she’s really got an amazing voice. You should really do something with that.” While it’s tempting to push her to earn income in that area, she’s just not interested. And honestly, we’re not interested in having her go the route of so many other gifted performers and get caught up into the trap that money and recognition can sometimes bring. With writing, she’s relatively behind the scenes, and she likes it that way.
4. Educate yourself. Your child may have a gift that you know very little about, and in order to nurture that gift, you’re going to have to learn some things about that particular industry. Even if it’s an industry you aren’t interested in yourself, take the time to learn about it as a gift to your child. Take interest in his/her interest, and see if this is a gift that he/she could really make something out of, and wants to make something out of.
As parents, we have a certain responsibility to help our kids grow into adulthood using the gifts and talents that God has given them. He has a special plan and purpose for each and every one of us, and life will be a whole lot more joyful if we are living in a way that uses the gifts that are in us.
How do you encourage your child’s gifts and talents?