From Dr. Jane's Notebook


It's summer. Get to know your kids


            Summer offers a great opportunity to strengthen parent-child relationships. These brief months are a special time of the year when family play is encouraged. Hopefully, you will get some time for fun and relaxation. But summer months can also be stressful times due to financial pressures and expectations. This summer, families may find it more difficult to afford expensive trips, camps or pool memberships. As the economy changes, so must our expectations. As parents, we are not alone with our concerns. Our children sense our anxiety.  For this reason, I suggest that you focus less on entertaining your children and focus more on just hanging out with them. Here are a few more thoughts on the matter.

        Focus on parent-child communication: Can you hear me now? Perhaps the past nine months have been exhausting. Many of us are preoccupied with our work and so our stress levels are high. We may be caught in a vicious struggle of having too many obligations and too few resources. Whether we express our concerns out loud or not, most children become anxious, worried and fearful when their parents fret about bills. The economy has changed. Now we must work together as a family to cope with those changes.

        Kids need help to understand financial decisions. As it becomes more difficult to afford luxuries such as video games, electronic gadgets and trips to Disneyworld, it will become more important to talk with your children about finances.  If youíve never earned a paycheck, it is difficult to comprehend what it takes to earn a dollar. When financial circumstances change, call a family meeting for some group brain-storming. Otherwise, uninformed children may conclude that they are neither loved nor intelligent enough to be included in the discussion.

        Teach your child the facts of money. Times are tough all over.  Even if your own finances are stable, your childís friendís families may be having rough times. Your kids may want to talk about why people lose jobs, they may suffer from fears of losing their home, or they may wonder about financial decisions but be afraid to ask certain questions. It is never too early to teach children about money. Our spending habits are first formed during childhood. For example, if a child learns to equate love with gifts, they may make an endless stream of requests for new things in the effort to feel more loved. As a grown-up this same individual may acquire new things on a continuous basis trying to fill their emotional emptiness. To start the conversation, simply ask your child what they think about money, listen to their thoughts, and then together, discuss financial priorities.  

 

Children learn their spending habits and their work ethics from watching their parents. For this reason, itís good to talk about budgeting, how to save money, and how to make good financial choices in your home. As they consider their future, I often tell kids that itís possible to earn $6 an hour, $16 per hour, $60 per hour, $160 or more, depending on what they choose to do.  Once they have chosen a career, pursuing the right educational path will be a big key to their career satisfaction and financial security.  Childhood is an important time to dream about and explore various career interests. Both kids and adults need time to prepare for their future.  Our job as parents is to provide encouragement and help our kids envision their future. What could be better than listening to our children as they consider the life they wish to lead.  

©Copyright, 2008, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.            

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