( ENSPIRE She Did That ) Jennifer Bunkers’s Parenting Techniques Encourages Early Independence and Entrepreneurship
ENSPIRE Contributor: Naba Wahid & Anastasia Hanna
Jennifer Bunkers, the founder of the all-natural kids’ skincare line, TruKid, mixes her work life with her family life quite literally. As an entrepreneur, Bunkers understands the value of creating a sustainable business and family. With this idea in mind, she has raised her six children to be independent entrepreneurs hoping they’ll understand the true value of entrepreneurship.
In order to teach her kids the value of money, Bunker’s parenting techniques go beyond the typical allowance handouts. Instead, she has encouraged her kids to work and earn their own money to pay for anything from everyday personal items to extravagant family trips.
Bunkers explain, “Making my kids learn independence and how to rely on each other at a young age is truly a focus for me. On the flip side, this allows them to bond and often exclude me. So if I ever feel left out, I remind myself that I have raised independent kids that can confidently rely on one another.”
Her parenting style has been subject to criticism, but Bunkers believes she is raising her children to be self-sufficient and encourages them to develop negotiation and critical thinking skills. She also engages her children’s feedback in certain ways.
“The most common feedback I get is about the discipline of siblings and that I am not fair or hard enough to one or the other. To me, it’s a funny conversation and what they don’t realize or understand is that I parent them all differently. The basic foundation is the same, but I adjust to their personalities—for better or worse sometimes. For sure, they don’t agree with me.”
Bunkers’s advice to parents wanting to encourage their children to pursue entrepreneurship involves an incremental approach. “Have them get a job or babysit, anything that gets them to do work for someone else. There is nothing else like them coming home and telling me what horrible kids they just watched, or how they did not get paid enough for a task, or the job took all day—all of which is on someone else. This gives them the experience to learn what working will be like in their future.”
She adds, “Give them the gift of self-resourcing. I teach my kids how to enable themselves. I have my kids begin to do ‘adult’ tasks early, like complete parent forms online or by hand (and I then review and sign them), book appointments for themselves that make sense, add these to their calendars, call and order food, email their teachers and doctors with questions, and learn to shop online and return items. All of these build the necessary skills to start a company.”
She is also adamant about teaching her children the value of money. “In our house, they have to pay for their own stuff and they have to earn money. They don’t get allowances. Teaching them how to earn their own money by selling items or services is the foundation of entrepreneurship education. If they decide they like the work, they will then build this muscle—tenacity to keep at it till it works or [they] learn to pivot.”
The benefits of providing entrepreneurial education to her children from a young age have proven abundant. “Because they are now all teenagers—my youngest kid just turned 13—they easily participate in all business discussions with confidence because of all the years they grew up listening in on conversations about money, company formations, partnerships, brand names, trend research, product development, brainstorming, collaboration, hiring, etc. They have a front-row seat to all of my success and failures and can make decisions now based on their personal experiences.”
The benefits also include new paradigms for thought. “Teaching them to think creatively will help them generate their own money and direction. I never tell them they have a bad idea or that things won’t work. They learn to muddle through problems on their own.”
Today, her kids have collectively started 10 businesses ranging from small concepts to national brands, which are on track to becoming seven-figure companies.
Despite the plethora of products on the market, Bunkers resolves to return to natural, safe products for her children and wants the same for other families, all while teaching her children the value of independent thinking and entrepreneurship to enable them to think creatively about their own futures.