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Inspired by this week’s Moms Making Six Figures Podcast episode with Tax Strategist Jessica Smith who believes in making your money work as hard for you as you work for it, all while giving our children the gift of practical experience and work ethic.
I can still remember my first job. There was no W-2, no new hire paperwork, no cash exchanged. The contract was made between my parents and their dear friend, recently widowed, over a handshake and through tears of gratitude. I mucked horse pastures, and cleaned stalls for an entire summer of Saturday’s in exchange for hot tub privileges. In hindsight I know exactly what my parents were doing and I hope to be able to do the same for my children.
The Perk of Perspective
As parents we ask our children about their day, their academics, their athletics, and their friends, but it’s important that we share our lives with them as well. By opening these reciprocal conversations, we offer our kids a window into the reality of work and making a living (and a life) for ourselves, and for them. These conversations develop empathy and gratitude, and lay a valuable foundation for successful communication with others.
The Perk of Practical Experience
The workforce is rapidly evolving and so are the skills required to be successful; by involving our children in our businesses and in our daily work rhythms, we provide them with valuable knowledge and practical experience to advance their own careers when they choose to enter the workforce. Many of our children have a variety of foundational skills, but lack the ability to hone them or apply them in a different context without direction and support.
Think of the variety of tasks you and your employees perform in any given day and begin teaching your children those same skills you now consider to be rote; you can develop their skill set as their interest and ability grows.
The Perk of Principles Learned
We’ve all experienced our own share of failures as working professionals (and as parents), and sometimes the sting is worse than others. By teaching our children principles of the business world and developing their work ethic early, we offer them a safe place to take risks, and make mistakes, before a future employer or client delivers their first critique or negative review.
Start with a seemingly simplistic, but essential skill for everyone who is self-employed. Teach your children how to create an invoice, disperse it, and collect on it for the work they are doing in your business. A valuable skill set is learned, and responsibility and ownership over their agency as an employee is instilled.
The Perk of Parenting in a New Way
As parents we know the painful reality of the adage, “The days are long, but the years are short” and many of us are feeling stretched to find intentional time with our children with all the hats we wear. Bringing our children to work and including them in our business, allows us more time with them when time is fleeting, and allows us to bond with them and strengthen our relationship in an entirely different way. They get to see a different side of you, and you get to see the person they are becoming.
The Perk of Pennies Saved
If you are a sole proprietor or LLC, and your child is under 18, you can hire your child as an employee without paying social security or Medicare taxes, and write-off their work as a business expense. Of course, you will want to discuss the specifics with your accountant and ensure the work they are performing is reasonable considering their age. If your children earn less than $12,000 (the standard deduction on any tax return), they have no tax liability. Better yet? You can teach your children the value of financial investment and saving by establishing a 529 College Savings Plan with a portion of their earnings to help them (and you) save for their future.
The Perk of a Passion Ignited
In addition to instilling the foundations of work ethic, from learning to report to someone else, performing a task as directed, and showing up prepared and on-time, you may also spark your child’s passion for their future education or career endeavors. Author and speaker, Ramon Ray, gave his son the opportunity to accompany him on work travel and shoot video, and later edit that footage, “I told my son that I had a number of people I could turn to for video editing but that I’d give him a week to do several videos. After that, I’d turn to my regular video editors. He did the videos.”
Opportunities present themselves in any number of places, whether it’s in a conversation with a colleague while they’re organizing your filing cabinet, a spark of innovation while cleaning the office space, or a passion for social media marketing ignited when they take over your business Instagram for the day, your habit of making “Bring Your Child to Work Day” a normal rhythm of your life (and theirs) may just jumpstart their road to discovering their purpose.
Mucking horse pastures and cleaning stalls instilled a deep appreciation within me for manual laborers and their often thankless work. Sacrificing my Saturdays helped me to understand the value of putting others before ourselves, and looking back on my first job I am filled with gratitude for my parents and their wisdom, and now have some of the fondest memories of ‘swimming’ in an indoor hot tub.