"We have taught them work and money is not the whole purpose"
Charity workers Jane and her husband Michael live in Ballyclare, Northern Ireland, with their teenage sons Luke, 18, and Jake, 15.
The couple work for Stand By Me, a charity which helps children who have been orphaned, abandoned or abused in 11 countries around the world by giving them a home, healthcare and education.
Their eldest son Luke is also planning to do charity work this summer after his A-levels when he will travel to Ethiopia to work at a school there. He’d like to study physics at university and has applied to Queen’s University in Belfast so he can save money by living at home for the first year.
His brother Jake, age 15, will be doing his GCSEs next year. He is passionate about music and saved up all his birthday, Christmas money and allowance to buy himself a drum kit!
Mum Jane says: "We have already recognised the boys are very different and will take different paths in life. We just want to help them recognise how they have been “wired” and to go on to develop their strengths and passions. University is not the right path for everyone."
Jane herself left school after A-levels to train as a nurse and worked in community psychiatry until Jake was born. She then trained as a counsellor but an accident in 2009 left her with a brain injury and she returned to work two years ago, joining her husband at the Ballyclare office of the charity.
She says: “I think our kids are optimistic about their future job prospects, whatever they may be. They know they have to work hard at whatever they do and they know they have to start at the bottom and work their way up. We have also taught them that work and money are not the whole purpose of life. Life is about so much more.”
Both boys get a monthly allowance paid directly into their bank accounts for them to manage. Luke gets £150 which has to cover his mobile phone, petrol usage, clothes and socialising. Jake gets £60 but his parents still pay for his mobile phone and clothes.
“As a family we discuss financial issues openly but we would never tell the kids if we were under financial pressure,” says Jane.
“I think my kids are much more mature and have a greater sense of responsibility than I had at a similar age. They are very aware of world affairs probably due to social network sites – news travels so fast now.”