It can happen to anyone: businesses close down due to recession; people get sacked or lose some relation who granted them financial support previously. Only yesterday you were if not exactly prosperous, than at least quite comfortable, and today you have to face the problem of very limited means. There’s hardly a grown-up person who has never encountered those hardships. They know what it means, and they will understand, but how about children?
Some overprotective parents prefer not to talk with their children about financial problems. They do their utmost to maintain the same living standards for their kids, or else, they simply cut down their child’s pocket money or funds spent on treats, toys and entertainment without going into any kind of explanation at all. Both ways are wrong for at least several reasons.
First, bending backwards to provide your children with the best money can buy when you actually have very limited funds can be frustrating. 还, what are you likely to feel towards that greedy and insensitive little thing (your own son or daughter) who asks you for another expensive toy when you are not sure your money will be enough to satisfy the most basic needs? But that is NOT your child’s fault: it is not insensitive; it simply doesn’t know you are struggling to survive, because YOU didn’t bother to tell him or her about it.
Second, when you cut down the money you spend on your child not bothering to explain anything, it’s the child who may feel frustrated: he may think he has done something wrong and that’s a way to punish him, or that Mum and Dad don’t love him anymore. Do you need that? And is it fair on your child?
And third and most important, your child, however small, is a part of your family, and he or she has all the right to know about whatever problems or difficulties your family has to face – and in his own small way, help to overcome them.
So, the answer to the question whether you should tell your children about your financial problems is definitely “YES”. How you explain them depends on the child’s age.
Psychologists assure that even a 3 year old can comprehend some very basic financial problems. Of course you do not have to go deep into details or economic theory. More than enough is to tell your child that Mom and Dad love him, but can’t buy him expensive toys or clothes or take him out for expensive treats. Instead, just spend more time with your kid, reading books, playing games or doing something together. This way, the child may not even feel he’s missing something. Because it’s our love and attention that children need more than anything, not expensive toys.
Older children can comprehend more, but they are still too young to digest the facts and make right conclusions. So just tell them your family is going through hard times, but it will not last forever. Still, the kid will have to restrict his or her demands for know. They may not take it easy, but hard times do have their own positive sides: your child will have to learn the difference between what he WANTS (like, a new computer game) and what he NEEDS (new clothes or school books), will learn to be patient, because in most cases whatever he wants, he can’t get it immediately. He will learn to compromise – no matter how much he craves for something, if his parents can’t afford buying it now, they can’t afford buying it now. Period. But most importantly, your child will realize that money does not grow on trees or fall from the blue skies. His parents work hard to make them. And what’s even more important, quite a few things do not depend on how much money you have. Like, intellect, knowledge, natural talents and the love from your family.
With teenagers, you can discuss your financial problems freely. They are old enough not only to understand, but to render you moral and sometimes even financial support. Your kid may decide to take up some job, to shed some burden off your shoulders. Even if the money he or she makes is merely enough to pay for his most immediate needs, it’s still a few bucks off your family budget. And isn’t that a proof that you raised your child well, that he or she is not only independent, but also considerate and concerned about their family.
…We find it easy to share our financial problems with friends or family, but we fear that our own children (our most immediate family!) will not understand us. Those fears are not grounded: if your kids, regardless of their age, feel that you love and trust them, that you treat them not like unreasonable creatures but like friends you can talk to and ask for help and support, don’t worry, they will understand.