Love thy siblings: lesson in hand-up or hand-out

The proverb Charity begins at home means different things to different people. However, both are very closely related. The idea is that children learn charity in the home, manifested in the way they relate to other people. We all want our children to love their siblings. When children are young, they may argue and fight with each other constantly.  They may even be mean and cruel to each other sometimes.  However, when a sibling sees another in pain or suffering, they tend to come together to help each other out.

Saving for a goal is the same. When everyone else has reached their savings goal, the one still saving up tends to get the sympathy of the others.  The other siblings may want to help our his/her brother or sister reach the savings goal.

Siblings: the money or the love?
Siblings love
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As parents, we are torn between 2 emotions and lessons when this occurs:

  1. gratitude that the siblings love each other so much to help each other out that we want to encourage it;
  2. being firm that the one still saving up should persevere – work hard and save hard.

There is no right or wrong way to approach this. It is entirely up to you which emotion or lesson you want to encourage in this situation. If your children already display lots of love and affection for each other in other ways, choosing to be firm in this instance will not destroy their love for each other. If your children already have good money habits, encouraging sibling love in this instance will not undo all your hard work in the financial literacy department.

But wouldn’t it be ideal if the lesson can incorporate both?

Hand up or hand out?

A money lesson that also encourages sibling love is the ideal lesson to teach.  Young children will automatically choose the easy option – if they have extra money, they will want to give their money to his/her brother or sister to help them reach the savings goal. But this ‘help’ isn’t a good money lesson. It teaches the brother or sister that if they need money, instead of working hard and saving up their money, they just need to wait long enough for someone to eventually come to their rescue.  Worse, it teaches the brother or sister that if they beg/whinge/whine about the lack of money, their sibling will come to their rescue.

It is better to encourage your child to come up with another way to help  his/her brother or sister so that he/she is giving a ‘hand up’ rather than a ‘hand out’.

Have you had situations where you had to decide whether to teach the money lesson or encourage the non-money lesson? Share it with us in the comments!