From Dr. Jane's Notebook


Teaching kids about money


One of the most challenging tasks we face as parents, is instilling a healthy attitude in our children about money. When you think about it, children are members of the underclass in every family. They make the fewest decisions and have the least spending power. As parents, it is part of our duty to teach them about money and help them find a healthy way to earn it.

Here are a few more thoughts on the matter.

In addition, with people living longer these days, each of us must be prepared not only to support our children during their young years, but also to help with the support of our parents during their elder years. Unfortunately, many young adults are never taught to include this expense in their long-range plans.

Rather than be coy about this issue, I think it is wise to advise your children and their mates of your expectation that caring for each other is a two-way street in life. When addressed early enough, support for members of your extended family can become part of your children's long-range financial plans for the future. Opening up this topic up for discussion before it becomes a reality, reduces the potential for surprise and may prevent major misunderstandings during times of crisis. When one is given some notice that assistance will be needed, the assistance can be budgeted and contributed with love, not resentment. Even if it never becomes necessary for children to help support their parents, it is a comfort to know that you were prepared to help.

Summertime car trips have always provided wonderful opportunities for growth as a family and family bonding. By the time our kids were age 2, my husband and I had learned that it was far more pleasant to travel with children who had a few dollars in their pockets, than it was to endure those embarrassing scenes in stores where your children literally fall to their knees in tears and beg.

When they were small, $2-3 per day in allowance taught our kids how to stretch each dollar and gave them a greater sense of choice and voice during the family vacation. Instead of begging and pleading for gifts, stores became opportunities to do their personal shopping and make some well thought-out decisions. They soon found that purchasing decisions required the use of addition, subtraction and even multiplication in order to predict the amount of sales tax that would be added to their bill. Additionally, they learned that they could save money by sharing expenses on certain items, but best of all, they learned to be generous. To our great surprise and delight, we found that when we empowered our children with their own spending money, they developed a sense of joy and good feelings from acts of sharing. To this day, there is nothing more treasured than the little gifts that the kids bought for us and for each other in souvenir stands around the country. And Iíll never forget those deliciously sticky pieces of their favorite candies which they proudly bought from time to time to share with the family.

©Copyright, 2001, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.

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