Make plans to sit down and talk with your kids about money. Be honest about your personal situation but don’t be negative if you are suffering through tough financial times. Relay to them how you are dealing with money issues, especially if you are struggling, and the strategies you have in place to become financially fit. If you happen to be going to debt counseling classes or have hired a debt counseling service, invite your children to attend if possible. If not discuss what you have learned and ask your children for their input.
By speaking with your children you are also giving them an education on one of the most important aspects of life – money management. Teach them about the significance of saving and what can happen if they spend recklessly – it could be your own debt counseling session. If your children get an allowance use that as an example. If they spend their allowance quickly there are consequences. Suppose they see something they want at a store but don’t have enough money to buy it – tough luck. They’ll have to wait; and that also teaches them patience, which is conducive to a temperate demeanor rather than a compulsive one.
If you choose to disregard your children you’ll leave them with no other alternative than to fabricate their own explanation as to why routines, like going out for pizza on Friday, have suddenly been altered. Any subtle change can launch a child’s imagination. If money is tight and tempers are flaring, and no one is talking to Johnnie or Jane, how they process this new situation can be harmful. Children are not prepared to cope with this type of anxiety and burden. It may negatively impact their behavior at home and in school. All types of scenarios could be spinning in their heads – mom and dad are going to divorce; the family is going to lose the house or apartment; I’m going to be abandoned. It’s simply unfair and selfish not to include the children in family matters.
You don’t have to involve every dirty detail, but it’s wise to keep the children informed. They will feel a part of the family fabric and they may adopt a fighting spirit; suddenly feeling the need to chip in by doing more chores around the house or find a part time job if old enough. But many parents do the opposite and opt to protect their kids from the woes of the world; but sheltering them is actually a disservice. The consequences could be a future adult not prepared for the misfortunes of life.
You may not be able to avoid losing your job, or control gas prices or even afford the Friday night pizza, but you can counsel your children on money. That much you can control and your kids will thank you for it when they grow up and potentially labor through the same financial issues. It’s at that time when they’ll pass on a part of your legacy; the part about how courageous and honest you were when times got tough.