Worried about money? Many, if not most of us, are economizing these days to make up for higher gas and food prices as well as lay offs and pay cuts.
Parents are often reluctant to talk about money to their children. We all want to spare our kids from the worries of life. We don’t want our kids blurting out information about our bank account or mortgage. I was raised in Boston where it was considered mad manners to talk or ask about money.
There is a problem with not talking about things that affect our children. A parent losing a job, the possibility of losing the house, or the fact that down-sizing in the workplace is causing “down-spending” in your home all will impact on the children. They know something is wrong but don’t know what it is. When this happens children often jump to the conclusion that somehow whatever is going on is their fault.
Obviously you have to use your common sense in such matters but I advocate sharing appropriate information, involving the children in planning how to economize, and reminding them that they will always be taken care of.
You can say, “We don’t have as much money as we used to have because Daddy’s hours have been cut at work and the price of gasoline has gone up. We all have to spend less.”
You can ask the children what they can think to do that will save money.
They might clip coupons from the Sunday paper or watch for specials and sales. An older child might plan Saturday errands using the best route to minimize driving costs or calculate savings gained form buying staples in bulk. You can also pay an older child to do special chores around the house like painting so you don’t have to hire outside help.
Sympathize with the child who is disappointed about not being able to buy something that everybody else has. Reminisce about when that happened in your childhood. Hug your kids and point out that you are a family. You will stick together, take care of each other, and still have fun together because that’s what a family does.
Better to involve the children in the task of family down-spending than to conceal the problem. Better to have them taking part in the solution than worrying about what unknown problem is upsetting Mom and Dad.–
Marilyn Heins, M.D.
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