There are several uncomfortable talks mums and dads must have with their little ones from time to time. Normally, parents think of discussions regarding sex and relationships as the ones that generate the most anxiety (on both sides of the table!) But if you've ever tried to field questions related to your family's finances, you know that the money talk can be just as unnerving.
Fortunately, there are ways to responsibly address all things fiscal with your youngsters without making them (or you) too uncomfortable.
Surprisingly, finances can often be an emotional topic, so before you broach the money issue with your kid, it's important to assess your own feelings. Does thinking about money make you feel fearful or anxious, for instance? Are you afraid of passing on those feelings to your son or daughter? Parents often fear unintended consequences of discussing finances with kids. These fears are not without warrant. After all, children have active imaginations, so casually telling your child that you’re "broke" for example may leaving him feeling curious about where his next meal will come from or hesitant to ask you for things he needs.
Commit to the Conversation
Whether we like it or not, it's our responsibility as parents to prepare our kids for the reality of life as an adult, and that includes dealing with finances. As much as you may want to avoid the conversation, doing so can actually set your child up for failure when she inevitably leaves the nest. Many mums and dads put off the money discussion because they don't want to their kids to worry about how the bills will be paid. Others don't want to look like failures in the eyes of their kids for not providing more. Though these feelings are understandable, they shouldn't stand in the way of teaching your kid about earning, spending, and saving.
Be Honest, But Reassuring
We all know kids can spot a lie from a mile away and aren't we always telling them that "honesty is the best policy"? When things are tight, though, it can be difficult to be entirely truthful with your child. But, alas, kids are curious. Even a preschooler who routinely gets sweets from the supermarket may wonder why there are no goodies in the trolley this week. In cases such as these, it's important to be honest without unnecessarily worrying your little one. While it’s ok to say, "mummy doesn't have money for extras this time", you may not want to tell your kid that "we can’t afford treats anymore". As with any other tough discussion, it’s important to soften the blow. Reassure your child that though things might be hard at the moment, that there are better times ahead. After all, you know what they say about a spoonful of sugar.
When it comes to money matters, communication is key. Talking to your kids about finances shouldn't be a one-time affair. It’s a complex issue, so give it the attention it deserves. Accept that your child’s curiosity about money is completely normal. Don’t ignore questions, but don’t answer flippantly either. Take the time to respond with an honest, yet optimistic answer that gives your child the insight he craves and deserves.