Not every financial season is going to be easy. In fact, there will be hard ones. There will be days when you say no because things just don’t fit int he budget. When kids are younger they may not pick up on this but as they get older they may start to notice. Before long, you may hear the question, “are we broke?” While the old school of thought is to keep finances quiet there is a way to balance talking about money with kids. I want to share a few things we do even on our tightest days.
Are We Broke? – Talking About Money With Kids
I think the most important thing to do before talking to your kids is being honest with yourself about your financial position. We can get so caught up in our financial situation and just surviving that we don’t step back and look at our situation. Take a few minutes and look at your budget and what needs to be tweaked before talking to your kids. It is important to have a good look at how the budget will impact them before addressing it.
You aren’t broke, it’s not in the budget.
Saying you are broke communicates that finances are so bad that needs might not be met. It can leave your child insecure about their needs being met. Instead, say that it is not in the budget. The budget implies that you have a plan and you are intentional about working on a solution. It also communicates that we manage our money and some things are wants while others are needs.
Communicating about a budget also lets your kids know that when we have money it is our responsibility to say where the money goes so that all needs can be met. Without this component, finances control you. It can be great to help kids see the value of budgeting.
Be honest about financial struggles but don’t overshare.
While transparency is important don’t burden your children with problems that are beyond their age. Make sure that you are not burdening them with the feeling that they need to compensate for the financial situation. If you are struggling, make sure they understand that their needs will always be met even if it means you have to call 211 (United Way resource line) in order to find help.
Take some time to break down ways that you will provide for your children. Letting them know that there will be a way to meet their needs no matter what happens.
Show them that sometimes it is ok to need help.
In the point before this, I mentioned reaching out for help. I understand that everyone has a different view on needing help. However, there will come a point in your life when you may need help from someone else. It can be good for your children to see that though we work hard and try sometimes we hit hard times. Show them the value of humility by being willing to ask for help and explain to them why that help is a good thing.
This help can look differently depending on your situation. Do not ever use your children to get you help. Let them be kids. Don’t send them to ask for help or money on your behalf. That sticks with a kid. Instead, stand and show them the strength in you in that you are willing to step out and ask for help .
Their money is their money!
No matter what happens, their money needs to be their money. When I was growing up and my mom was struggling financially she would “borrow” my money and I would never see it again. I grew up knowing that what was mine wasn’t mine. I have a very strict policy with my children that no matter how tight things get, what belongs to my children, is theirs. Help your children to understand that they do not need to use this money to help you out of a financial bind or to fix the household. This is their money.
If I could challenge you to one thing it would be to never ever borrow from your kids or sell their belongings to meet needs. I am in my 30’s and I can still name 4 times my parents took my money to meet their needs.
Don’t complain about finances/discuss financial struggle in front of kids.
It can be hard to walk through a season of financial struggle. Sometimes that can cause conflict between you and your spouse or cause discouragement in you. Instead of discussing this in front of the children, take this discussion to another room. Having conversations like this in front of the children can be a quick way to invest insecurities into your children.
There are safe times and places to have these discussions. Wait until they go to bed or step into the other room for a bit to give yourself some time to process thru your situation.
Are you going through a financial struggle right now? I know this season is hard? I completely understand. We have had some really rough days. I can’t promise it will get better right away. I can’t promise it will be easy. It may be some of the hardest work you ever do. I will tell you that it will get better and you will get through this. There is joy on the other end of this struggle. Find one thing small to rejoice in today. It could be something small. It will get your through today and you can worry about tomorrow, tomorrow.
Even more than that, there will come a day when your kids will remember this as a season that you walked thru and showed them your strength, compassion, and honesty. The hardest moments in our life can sometimes teach our children some of the biggest lessons they will ever learn. While this is a hard season, you are shaping their future with how you talk to them.
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