Teach Your Kids to Share Day is about money, not toys

Any parent knows that teaching their child to share is difficult. Their toys are their prized possessions, and no one can take them away -- at least until they're tired of them and have thrown the new doll, stuffed animal or race car under the bed.

Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, however, is taking the sharing lesson about toys and turning it into a lesson about money -- how to share, save and spend it -- for kids at a nationwide event April 24.

But the Teach Your Kids to Share Day may do just as much for the parents as it will for the kids, especially in a recession where people may have gotten into financial hardships by spending over their heads and not understanding money management.

"We're trying to make it easier for parents to talk to kids about money," said Laura Dierke, manager of program management for the event, which will be at 57 places throughout the country. About 20,000 people expected to attend.

The evening event costs $10 per family and includes dinner, activities and educational materials to take home. Parents will learn why it's important to teach kids about financial principles, and kids will learn how even small decisions about money can make a big difference. It's aimed at children ages 6 to 10, although younger siblings can attend. Minneapolis-based Thrivent promises that no products or services will be sold.

There's a map of events throughout the country, and registration is required.

The night is focused on a values-based approach to money management, so if that isn't your cup of tea, don't attend. Sharing, for example, is a big part of the night, and sharing money, time and talents are some of the ways people can give back to their community, Dierke said.

Each family receives a piggy bank that is divided into three areas: Sharing, saving and spending. The "spending" part of the piggy bank gets the biggest allocation, 80%, with the other areas each getting 10%.

For kids who can't even share toys, sharing money may be a more difficult concept to grasp, but the idea is that it's easier to do if you first save the money for sharing. When your child has enough in her piggy bank to share, it can be sent to flood victims in Fargo, for example.

The same goes with saving in the piggy bank. Kids at the workshop will draw goals of what they want to save for, and will learn long-term goals of saving, Dierke said.

Few families discuss their finances at the dinner table. One goal of the Teach Your Kids to Share Day is to open up that discussion so that kids can learn from their parents about money management and be better at it than their parents are. If nothing else, it's something different to talk to your kids about.

"You'd be surprised at the connection you can make with your children when you start talking about money," Dierke said.

Aaron Crowe is an unemployed journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Read about his job search at www.AaronCrowe.net

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