Money & Expenses
With back-to-school shopping soon to be underway, added along with summer expenses like camp and vacations and the (regular list of food, clothes, toys, and gifts, your kids may notice the spending ask you questions related to money. Living in Miami doesn’t help. With such an abundance of goodies available, at all price ranges, and such stark contrasts between what social circles can afford, it’s no wonder our kids bombarded with the twinkling fantasy of having so much, just as much as we are as adults.
Questions like this may have you wondering how to talk to your kids about money:
- Why can’t I have two sneakers of the XYZ brand instead of one?
- How come you say that you can pay for this camp, but not the other one?
- Why do I need to use these old school supplies instead of buying new ones?
- How come we go to private school when so-and-so goes to public school?
- Why do people ask for money on the street?
- How much money do you make?
- How much does our house cost?
- Are we rich/poor?
The list of questions goes on. And really, our kids can ask about money at any given point- so, it’s best that we have some idea of how we wish to respond instead of answering things like:
- That’s none of your business.
- Why are you being nosy?
- Talking about money is bad manners.
- Because we can’t afford it. (True or not!)
Ignore or Attack?
Or, saying nothing, changing the subject or ignoring the child’s question altogether. Sometimes, you might take these questions personally, like our children are attacking or questioning our ability to provide for them. Many parents feel like their children are questioning our ability to be “good parents.”
You might find yourself feeling or thinking:
- How dare she complain about how many shoes I buy her! Doesn’t she realize how hard I work?
- Is he that ungrateful that he is jealous of his friends?
- I need to work harder. Maybe she feels lesser than because we can’t afford the same things as her friends. I don’t want her to feel left out. I can just put it on the credit card and pay for it later.
- I should have become an accountant. This job pays #$&*%.
- Am I raising a spoiled brat?
These are great questions to ponder! Maybe not while you’re in the middle of the shoe rack aisles with one kid trying on shoes five times too small and the other kid is whining over Converse sneakers…but good ones to consider nonetheless. Why? Our kids come to this world to push our buttons. They push us to see the yucky-muck things within ourselves and to evolve.
If you are talking about money with your kids and taking it personally as an attack on your ability to provide for your family, sit down and take a seat. Consider these thoughts and questions:
- It is absolutely normal that your child is curious. Good for you! You are raising a child who is interested in how the world works. And guess what? Money is an integral part of how the world works.
- How confident do you feel about your ability to provide for your family? What are you using to gauge your ability?
- What is your relationship with money? Do you feel like you are constantly chasing it? Do you feel like there is never enough? Do you feel like if you make a certain amount of money then you are a worthy member of the family? If you don’t make this amount, are you wondering who are you?
- Please remember that your worth as a parent (or as a human being for that matter) is not based on how many things you buy for them and if they are as amazing as their best friends or even better.
Take your time letting those thoughts and answers seep in.
Money is such a loaded subject, isn’t it?
We are taught not to talk about money. For some people, talking about money is like talking about religion, sex, and politics. The conversation is only to be had with your most trusted circle and even then, with major care. As parents, we wonder when to start talking to our kids about wealth? How do we handle money? Do we start an allowance for chores? What about the tooth fairy, birthday gifts, toys, etc. The list goes on…
First, it’s important, as in most parenting decisions, to be on the same page with your partner or significant other on this topic. Once you have dealt with your own feelings about money, you can begin teaching your kids about money. Reflection is always a good place to start.
- I see you want to buy more than one pair of shoes.
- You’re wondering about the people on the street with signs asking for money.
Then, be honest with how you decide how to spend the money. Including your children in the process can help them understand how the world works and the importance of saving and spending money. If they are questioning why you spend on something versus another thing, they are questioning your values because they want to learn. This can be difficult if you don’t have an idea of your values. It’s always okay to say, “Let me get back to you on that one.” But make sure you really do when you’re ready. The more taboo you make a topic, the hungrier and more resourceful your kids will get at finding out the answers.
So don’t shy away from those difficult conversations to have with your kids! If they are asking about an adult topic or subject, it’s a good sign you have a curious little person that is interested in learning how the world works. Have you had a talk with your kids about money? How did it go? Are you thinking about teaching your preschooler about money? Do you wonder how to have this conversation with your kids? Let’s talk about it.