Should you ever tell your child you are broke? : Evewoman - The Standard
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Parenting

When and how to tell your children there’s no cash to spare

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My budget increases whenever the schools are closed. I have to allocate more money towards food and electricity, and sometimes, when work gets hectic, daycare fees are factored in. That means that there is very little money for fancies. 

Recently, while shopping in a children’s clothing store in town, a very chatty shop attendant told me how sometimes, the employees at the store allows are allowed to carry home clothes that are about two seasons old.

“And that makes my babies the best clothed children in the plot. They have no idea that I can’t afford any of the stuff I bring home. And now their requests are mounting. Even the tea time snacks we get are packed away for my two boys. So now, I don’t have to feel bad when I am cash strapped and can’t buy their sweets,” she said, expertly checking the cloth sizes for me.

This reminded me of the times my daughter has asked for one thing or another. The times when I am pressed for cash and can’t really afford what she wants.

Sometimes it could be a request like the purple pair of shoes she saw a friend wearing. Or a movie she wants to watch. And I use these times as ‘teachable’ moments where I explain about materialism and its ills.

Other times she will ask for a book. And since reading is an encouraged habit in the household, I will get it for her. And when there is no cash to spare? I explain to her in very simple language that mummy only has money enough for food and will get her the book as soon as more money is available.

She will then look at me quizzically and nod. And I will walk away feeling like my super mum status have gone down a peg. But when the money comes and I get her what she needs, she appreciates the value of patience.

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Passing down the scarcity mentality

As long as I do not pass down a ‘broke mentality’ or a scarcity one to the children, I figure I am doing alright. That they can appreciate that you don’t need things to be happy, is a great lesson in itself. Don’t give them the breakdown of how bad the economy is, or how much you earn and how you budget it.

It isn’t their work to worry about it. Let them be children, let them awaken to the realities of the world when they are older, in the meantime, teach them the value of delayed gratification, not being wasteful and how to save.

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