Raising Financially Confident Kids Book sitting on a white shelf with basket of bright colored tulips

Values are More Often Caught than Taught—Plus a GIVEAWAY!

Bents, characteristics, abilities, and tendencies are the conduits through which you can pass your values to your kids. But exactly how do you make the pass? Though your life. The way you live.

Kids learn most effectively through observation and imitation. It’s the witness of our lives, more than anything we say, that is taken in slowly and cumulatively by our children.

Raising Financially Confident Kids Book sitting on a white shelf with basket of bright colored tulips

Children drink in everything around them. They see the way we act with others. They listen to everything we say. They observe the way we handle our money. They hear what we say on the phone and the way we deal with salespeople. Children compare what they see with what they are told and in the case of a clear conflict, they usually go with what they see.

There are many ways to communicate your values to your kids. There are formal lectures, specific talks, books and discussions on what has been read; reprimands, reminders, various kinds of discipline and punishment, and religious education with all of its related activities.

All of these ways of communicating with your kids do count for a great deal, but they cannot come close to your children observing their parents living out their values consistently, specifically, and diligently day in and out. That’s the surest way to pass on to your kids the values and principles they need to guide their lives—values that will take root in their hearts, not simply stick on the outside until they can get away from your authority. Truth be told, values are more often caught than taught.


It’s easy to get so hung up on the mundane side of parenting—cooking, cleaning, carpooling, taxi driving—that we forget about the single most important job parents have to do, which is to successfully pass on our values to our children.

Equipping children with values is not the same as making them obey. Parents can get a kid—even the dog—to do just about anything, provided they exert enough external pressure. Threats of severe consequences motivate immediate compliance but aren’t likely to produce long-term commitment. When the child or teenager is free of the external pressure, his behavior reflects his true values—the condition of his heart; her true character.

Kids who leave home having never taken ownership of positive values, such as integrity, responsibility, courage, and respect, don’t make the transition into the real world very well. They bounce around and make all kinds of foolish choices. Often, they suffer long-term consequences simply because they do not have a positive, strong value system. They have nothing to guide their lives.

But how exciting and gratifying it is for parents to observe their children “catching” their values and choosing to do the right thing simply because it is right, not to escape external pressure or to earn a reward.

One of the most important lessons you can teach your kids is how to handle their money. Unfortunately, for most of us, giving our kids a financial education is an afterthought. Where do you start? And what if you don’t feel financially confident yourself?

In my book, Raising Financially Confident Kids (Kindle, Paperback), I tell my husband’s and my story—how we were miserably in debt, unemployed, clueless and basically without hope, parents of two very young children. Even in the face of that misery, we came up with a plan because we were terrified our boys would turn out like me (don’t miss the Epilogue!). We put it into action mostly without knowing what we were doing. But to our amazement—more like shock and awe, to be honest—it worked. On our way to getting a financial life, our kids got one, too.

We found hope, we did get out of debt and our boys—both adults now—have carried with them the values of living below their means, saving and giving. We raised financially confident men who have steered clear of debt and found their place in the world. 

Over the years, I’ve heard from thousands of families who have read this plan, adopted it with their children and are now experiencing very similar kinds of success. They’re sending kids into the real world with the values, knowledge and practical experience they need to live financially confident lives.


Yay, another Giveaway! I have an autographed paperback copy of Raising Financially Confident Kids to give away, today. If you’d like to see it in arrive in your mailbox, leave a comment below. We’ll pick a winner tomorrow, Friday, June 29, 2018, by replying to that person’s comment. Hurry! With such a short window of opportunity, your chances of winning are greatly increased.

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  1. Lynne Powell says:

    I learned to manage my finances the hard way. My husband was the one who ran up the credit cards for things and services we didn’t need. I couldn’t pay enough each month to break even. When I finally got him to give me his credit cards I began to make headway. Unfortunately I did not want our kids to witness the struggle so they didn’t learn from our mistakes. My son is financially irresponsible and now I’m seeing by those same traits in my granddaughter. I’d love to have this book for her.

  2. Tina Schrader says:

    I would love to win a copy of this book. We have six children and unfortunately failed the oldest two by not understanding finances very well ourselves. We are working hard to change that and I would like to make sure my other children go out into the world well prepared.

  3. PattiHath says:

    SO very true. We went through wealthy times and poor times with our boys and they definitely caught more than we taught. Many blessings on a book that’s sorely needed in these difficult times!

  4. Lara says:

    My husband and I have 7 kids, between the two of us. Six of them are adults now and most of the time are not making good financial choices. We could use some advice for the youngest. He is adopted and only 2 years old, so we have a chance to redeem ourselves!

  5. Julie Faughnan says:

    I tried to teach my three sons the value of savings and staying out of debt, but this book would have been a God send! It’s not too late for my nephews so I am going to buy a copy for them! Thank you for all the terrific tips and info!

  6. MoreFreedom2 says:

    Yes, kids learn from our actions. Sad to say, I’ve seen far too many politicians and leaders who say one thing and do another engaging in “Do as I say” but not as they do. They are terrible examples for our children and future generations.

    An ethical life respecting boundaries is the way to go. You can look in the mirror, rest easily, and look back on your life with few regrets if you do. And that is a great example for others. And there are a lot of people who do.

  7. Debbie says:

    I have a 16 year old son, who has started asking questions about investing and giving. It made me so proud. I just wish I had that kind of thought process at his age. I have never read your book about “Raising financially confident kids”. I would like to get a copy to help me with my 13 year old daughter. I hope I can raise her to have the same philosophy as my son. Each one is definitely different. Thank you for all you post and discuss. You really have some good stuff on your site.

  8. Randy Lake says:

    Mary, we followed your advice many years ago which helped us stay out of debt. We started with the envelope system way back then and subscribed to your newsletter which was mailed to us each month. Our kids caught on and when they moved out, we purchased subscriptions for them and they are doing well today. Now we want to teach the Grands, all 3 of them.
    Thank you Mary!!!!

  9. LHL says:

    I’m glad you’re getting this out there, I didn’t have good financial rolls growing up, as even though my parents got their house paid off, they always struggled with everything else and never planning well. My husband had a horrible financial example with his parents filing bankruptcy 3 times. It has set us up for many years of struggling and making mistakes over and over again and not being where I would have liked to have been at this point in our lives.

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