Your kids want to start a lemonade stand. What do you do to help?
This week’s online poll asks what you do when the world hands you lemons.
Obviously, you make lemonade. The sidewalk stand has become a summertime fixture, and it’s a great way for kids to get a sweet, sweet taste of money management. But for parents, the pressing question is how involved you should get in the process, from the first squeeze to counting the nickels. We asked, you answered.
Here are the results:
If you remember your high school economics, Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” is the force that guides an entrepreneur to contribute to the good of society, even when she’s just trying to turn a buck. The vast majority of you parents out there preferred to play the invisible hand of the lemonade stand. While your kids are converting lemon juice and sugar—or, let’s face it, frozen concentrate—into cold hard cash, you’re quietly offering them a valuable lesson in budgeting, running a business, and deciding what to do with any profits.
This is smart, because the more you micromanage—“Let’s add just a soupçon of basil syrup!” “Set up shop next to the baseball diamond. Those sweaty little leaguers are a captive audience!”—the more valuable experience you’re taking away from your budding entrepreneurs. Letting the kids make their own business choices, and learn from their own mistakes (at least from the safety of the front stoop) is the day’s greatest refreshment.
Don’t overlook the age factor, of course. If your child is in preschool, you may want to provide an assist with pouring. Because cleanup, unfortunately, won’t be taken care of by an invisible hand.
Margins matter: “The last time my kids had one (with home-grown lemons and store-bought sugar), it cost more than they made. Now when I suggest they use their own money for supplies, they change their minds pretty quickly.” —Áine Lutes
Reality check: “Before I had kids, I thought B was the obvious answer. Now I feel between A and B so kids learn, but no one gets kidnapped, bankrupts us, OR gets arrested.” —Rebecca Becca