Money. Money. Money. Money. Money. Money.
There. I said it. Money. Like sex, money is something parents need to keep talking about with their little dudes and dudettes.
For something so many dudes and dudettes stress out about so much, money is an interestingly semi-taboo subject. Does anyone feel comfortable discussing how much you paid for a high-ticket item with, for instance, your neighbor? Like telling her how much you spent on that landscaping?
Do you want to try and justify the sparkling upgrades you paid for on your new phone with your dad?
Heck, many companies will do just about anything to prevent employees from knowing how much the other people with whom they work are actually making every other week. Although, I’m sure that’s less out of the taboo nature of money and more because the company doesn’t want someone to compare paychecks and realize they’re being appallingly shortchanged by working for the company.
Still, despite the uncomfortable nature of discussions of wealth or the lack thereof, it’s something we as parents need to talk to our young dudes and little dudettes about early and often.
When they little dudes are babies (and shouldn’t you be out purchasing another copy of A Dude’s Guide to Babies right about now ?It’s the perfect Christmas present for the new dad or dad-to-be. Go buy it. Now.*) there’s not much call for them to understand about money.
However, as they start growing older and understanding that there are different ways with which they can interact with the world, knowing what money is, where it comes from and how it works becomes more and more important.
When the little dudettes are toddlers, they think they know all about how the world works. Ask mom or dad for that thing you want and, in the fullness of time, it shall be given to you. From this perspective, Mom and Dad pretty much own everything in the world and it’s only a matter of asking for them to give it to the little dude at the right time.
Which can be, frankly, a pretty dangerous perspective to have.
And that makes the fact that they pretty much keep thinking this sort of thing straight through to their middle teens a horrifying proposition. Of course, they can be trained to forget this mistaken impression, but it’s going to be tough and it mostly involves a lot of tears and runny noses. Sometimes the little dude will tear up a bit as well.
Seriously, one of the best ways to teach your young dudette the power of money is to say — early, often and loud — no to requests for, well, just about anything. Don’t make the mistake I might have done and say to the kid, “I’ll give you this, but, in return, you need to do that.”
Go with that sort of logic and you’ll soon have a child with an armful of this, but be waiting forever for that to get done. Young dudes need to start working just like the world does (or should). That is, if they want something, they have to pay for it (be it through actual money or through sweat equity) before they can get it.
Whether or not the child gets an allowance is something parents need to work out for themselves. Included in the discussion is whether the young dude gets an allowance no matter what, or if money is earned from chores done, or if there is a baseline allowance and they can earn extra bucks with more chores. That sort of thing.
If the young dudes don’t feel the occasional pinch of poverty, they’re going to grow up with some severely whacked ideas about how money works. And, considering how easily almost anyone can get a credit card these days, that can be a very dangerous thing, indeed.
Money talk: important.
We’ll talk more tomorrow on a specific aspect of that discussion, namely what to say when your kid asks you how much money you have.
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