Should You Tell Your Children If You Have Money Problems?

No one likes to think they might have money problems, but life doesn't always go according to plan and it sometimes happens. You may have overspent at Christmas and now find it hard to make some unexpected payments, then the next thing you know the rent or the car payments are due and you are in trouble. Often this seems to be the time when the children request an item that all their friends seem to have and they want it, too.

So what should you do? Should you tell them that you are having financial problems, or is it better to keep it all to yourself? There is no hard and fast answer. A lot will depend on the age of the children. Children under eight years of age don't really understand finances that well. Sure, they know that they need money to buy food at the store, but they don't truly realize how much money affects their everyday life.

Children under this age should probably not be worried too much about the family's money problems. If they want something you can't afford, simply tell them that you have to save up for it first. You could make it into a fun project with a special moneybox. But if you keep on telling them how the family doesn't have enough money, they will begin to feel insecure. They may start to wet the bed or have bad dreams.

Older children will appreciate you taking them into your confidence about money matters. Teenagers especially have a right to know why they can't have the things their peers may have. They will be more understanding and may even offer to get an after school job to help out. Allow them to do this if it is possible, as it will make them feel that they are able to contribute to the family and so they will feel needed. This is very important for them, especially if the family is in real trouble financially.

If teenagers are kept in the dark about the family's financial problems, they are more likely to become resentful and unhappy, not realizing why they can't go on trips and have other things like their friends. For 'tweens', those between say, eight and twelve, it depends a lot on the child. If they are emotionally well adjusted children, they should be able to be told a little, even if it's just that their wanted item can't be bought just now but maybe at some later date. Don't keep harping on the money problems, though, or you'll worry them unnecessarily. Children should be children without having the worries of the adult world, for as long as possible.


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quote openLet honesty and industry be thy constant companions, and spend one penny less than thy clear gains; then shall thy pocket begin to thrive; creditors will not insult, nor want oppress, nor hungerness bite, nor nakedness freeze thee.quote close
~ Benjamin Franklin

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