This article was originally published on www.EricSpeir.com and has been revised for publication.
I love playing the game of Monopoly. The first time I played with my 6-year-old daughter, I made her cry. I didn't mean to, but I took all of her money. I felt bad for a moment, and then I started counting my money again. For some reason, my wife wasn't very happy with me. I quickly realized we weren't on the same page.
I guess she expected more from a Christian father. Maybe I should have tithed first. It probably didn't help that I was wearing a cheap green visor that professional poker players wear. (Just kidding. I couldn't find one.) I tried to explain to her it wasn't personal, just business. For some reason she still wasn't buying it.
The reason my wife and I discussed (argued) about me winning the game was because of our difference in parenting philosophy. I wasn't intentionally trying to be selfish because I saw it as a game to win and as an opportunity to crush someone in Monopoly. However, my wife was thinking further down the road. She saw it as a good teaching moment for our daughter.
I was playing to win while my wife was playing for our daughter to win. My wife taught me a few lessons while playing the game:
1. As a parent, I need to set up my children to win in life
It doesn't mean giving them everything or making sure they have it easy, but it does mean teaching them the principles to succeed in life and to be independent. Monopoly is a good game to teach your children about business and personal finances. When you run out of money, you can't pay for property or rent with your Mastercard. Using Monopoly money is a great way to teach your children about earning money and personal budgeting.
2. As a parent, I need to be willing to sacrifice for my chldren to win in life
It might mean sacrificing some of my personal time so I can help my children with something. It might mean driving a less expensive car or not buying the latest iPhone that just came out so my children can be involved in a life-building activity. Try taking your child on a mission trip or involve them in a mission project. When your children see you sacrifice for them, it builds gratitude in their lives and teaches them to live for a cause greater than themselves.
3. As a parent, if my children win now, I win later
If I take the time to teach my children and invest in their lives now, they will grow up to be responsible and respectable adults. This means eventually they won't need to keep borrowing money from me, and they will be off of my payroll. It also means I can go and get the car I had been eyeing or the latest version of the iPhone.
The lessons learned in Monopoly are cheap and won't cost you now, but you could receive dividends later for investing in your children.