Should a baby tithe? Why we tithe on our child’s money

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I mentioned in my last post that in addition to saving my toddler’s money in her account, managing her very small stock account and sticking odd amounts into her piggy elephant bank, we also tithe on her increase. We dealt with that question when she was little: Should a baby tithe?

Finances are mentioned in over 2,000 verses in the Bible. Some counsel Christians to invest, others caution against debt, and some discuss giving.

Types of giving

As far as giving to the church goes, there are two basic types of giving:

TithingGiving 10 percent of your increase to God.

Offering: Giving anything to the church over the amount of your tithe.

There are other types of giving, including alms for those in need, or love offerings that may be collected for a visiting missionary or pastor, for example. The one we’re looking at for our daughter’s finances is tithing.

Many verses discuss tithing. Malachi 3:8-12 says that not tithing robs God. Tithing brings you abundance and blessings.

My husband and I wanted to start our daughter off right, but of course babies aren’t capable of making financial decisions, so we did some reading, talked about it and went to our pastor.

He pointed out that children are under their parents’ spiritual authority, and that we can make the decision to tithe for her, bringing those spiritual benefits to her from an earlier age.

A toddler doesn’t make much money. She gets some for holidays and her birthday. We just tithe off of that and put the rest in her bank account. I’ll probably add more money to her tiny stock account soon.


Toddler hand pushes a U.S. dollar coin into a ceramic bank
Our daughter loves to put money in her elephant bank.

She’s not poor for giving 10 percent of her money; we provide for her needs, and when she’s older, she’ll be able to decide for herself how much to spend and how much to save. We’ll also teach her about tithing and investing. (Right now, we’re just concentrating on teaching her not to eat her money.)

Our toddler isn't poor for tithing 10 percent of her money; we provide for her needs, and when she's older, she'll be able to decide for herself how much to spend and how much to save. We'll also teach her about tithing and investing.… Click To Tweet

What about offerings?

We personally haven’t given any of our toddler’s money as an offering– just as a tithe– though we make offerings ourselves. Maybe one day we will, but for now, we haven’t felt the need to do anything other than tithe, save and invest. I can see someone making that decision, though.

How we tithe

I keep a few dollars in our toddler’s bank in her room so that I can use it to tithe. For example, if she earns 10 cents on an investment, I take a penny from her bank for the church. The same goes for her bank account interest and gifts. If she receives $20, I deposit $18 and put $2 in the church basket in her name.

Green ceramic elephant bank
My daughter received this green stitched elephant bank from my brother and sister-in-law for Christmas.

We provide for her diapers, food, clothes, toys, transportation, healthcare and any other needs she has, so at this point, any extra she gets is otherwise able to accumulate interest or dividends. Since we will teach her about money as soon as she can grasp the concept, she’ll be able to start making small decisions with gift money, but we’ll still prompt her to tithe first, then invest and save, then spend. We also want to teach her to give offerings or to charities or individuals as she feels led.

A lot of families give children a quarter, dollar or other small amount to put in the basket as it’s passed at church. I can see why parents do this– they want to teach their child to give, and to do it each week– but we tithe from our daughter’s money because we want her to learn to give. I’m not convinced that she’d really feel and comprehend the giving if it wasn’t her money.

It’s also her increase. We tithe on ours as a household, but she can tithe on her finances individually and really learn how to manage her money. She won’t feel much giving $1 of my money away, but when it’s hers, I hope she realizes the significance. The same principle applies to spending– she wouldn’t really care if some of my money goes to ice cream or toys, but if she has to save, she’ll understand the value more.

Does that mean I don’t ever buy her anything? Not anywhere close. Malachi 3:8-12, the same verse I referenced above that says to tithe, also explains God’s goodness and generosity. He’s a loving father. My husband and I also want to be loving parents. That doesn’t mean giving our child every toy, piece of candy or video game that she wants, but it does mean that we want to bless her with gifts over and above what we need to give her to provide for her basic needs. We don’t want to rob God, and we want her to learn to be a giver.

I’ve seen the benefit

When we put money in the basket at church, it doesn’t just disappear into the void. We see tangible benefits, from the crackers and juice for Communion and new audio/visual equipment to the blessings the church has been able to give to its members and the broader community. Like many others, our church has paid for peoples’ bills, gifted cars, given cash or other gifts (including TVs, drones and other toys during community outreach events) and supported missionaries, to name a few.

That’s in addition to the basics– like keeping the lights on, heating and cooling the building, buying snacks and craft supplies for the children, etc.

Even if we didn’t see where some of the money went, we’d still have the responsibility of tithing: it’s not an order from the church, it’s a commandment from God. But it is exciting to see where it goes and helps to benefit people.

Raising a giver

Tithing is a Christian principle, and the Bible encourages giving to those in need. With so many people in poverty and having to choose between healthcare needs and basic necessities such as food, rent or utilities, we need givers.

Of course that isn’t just a Christian principle, but it is a core part of our faith. The Giving Pledge was founded in 2010 by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet, and they’ve drawn a large group of billionaires (or those who would be billionaires if they hadn’t given so much away) who have pledged to give away the bulk of their wealth.

I think that’s awesome!

James Cash Penney, founder of J.C. Penney, was another huge giver.

The assumption was that business is secular, and service is religious. I have never been able to accept that line of arbitrary demarcation. . . . Is not service part and parcel of business? It seems to me so; business is therefore as much religious as it is secular. If we follow the admonition to love God, and our neighbors as ourselves, it will lead us to understand that, first of all, success is a matter of the spirit. — James Cash Penney

Penney set up a business that was cash-only to prevent customers from becoming indebted there, contributed to ministry and let managers eventually purchase their stores.

R.G. and Evelyn LeTourneau gave away 90 percent of their wealth. I’ve heard others who have done the same or are steadily working towards doing the same, and I’ve been inspired by it.

I’m not giving away all of my daughter’s money. I want to save it and grow it for her so that she can make those decisions for herself and afford future expenses like a car, education, her wedding, travel or whatever she chooses. Those will be her choices. But while she is little and I’m managing her money, I’ll do my best to grow it and to follow the Biblical commandment to tithe. I hope that one day her financial education, Biblical principles, loving heart and head start on her finances lead her to become a great giver.

Green ceramic elephant bank
I put most of our toddler’s money in a savings account but keep a small amount of change in her elephant bank.

So: Should a baby tithe?

We believe that babies and toddlers should tithe, or rather, that their parents or guardians should for them. I want my child to have a strong understanding of finances and to receive the blessings of God for tithing from a young age.

If you have questions, you can read verses about tithing or speak with your pastor or other spiritual leader. If you have very young children, you can get into the habit of giving for them. As they get older, it’s a great opportunity to get them excited about giving. You can point out the visible benefits of their tithe or offering, from the seats they’re in during the service to the yummy snacks or fun activity they do in Sunday school.

Get them excited about giving!

Do you tithe for your baby or young child? Why or why not? How do you get them excited to become a giver?

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