How Much Do You Tell Your Kids?

As a parent, we want to make sure or kids want for nothing. But are we doing a disservice by not letting them know exactly why financial decisions are made? How much is too much to tell them and at what age?

As single parents, life is challenging. There is no disputing that. As the owner of  Single Parent Travel, I hear a lot of stories about the trials and tribulations we all face. Job loss, home loss, wicked ex-spouse, health issues, medical issues, job stress…..  The list goes on.

Certainly children will see and pick up on much of this, but how much do you tell them? Is it based on age? Maturity?

I have a single parent friend who literally lives paycheck to paycheck. Since she is self employed, those paychecks are nowhere close to consistent. If she is not producing, she is not earning. And many times, the lack of income is not her fault. Her client is behind and does not pay on time. A family emergency took her away from her office. An unexpected medical (or in my case car) expense.

I know there have been times where I have just scraped by making the mortgage payment and went without a dinner out or a Sunday afternoon bowling with the kids.  I have pretty much insulated my kids and I wonder if that is the right move. My shopping has changed. I look for sale items in the grocery. I use coupons (not as good as I should). I put off buying new clothing and “things” for myself in order to buy “things” for them. Is this the right thing to do–just being a parent? Or am I short changing them on a valuable life lesson? Right now, they know they are disappointed when we don’t get or do something, but I am not sure they get the “why” part of the equation.

In very general terms they understand the economy is bad and that “things” are more plentiful in some years than in others. But they don’t understand that there are times when we, as parents,  need to make the horrible choice to forego something fun to take care of a necessity.  My kids don’t understand that making a utility payment on a credit card is not a good idea. I do, but sometimes, it is unavoidable.

Times are challenging right now. Do your children understand just how challenging it is? Or are they just mad that they did not get a “thing” they wanted?

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