But there's a new theory that encourages parents to share their income with their children that I really like. The theory is that money (like sex) can be a taboo subject when you are growing up. That sense of secrecy around parents' financial situation can become a source of stress for children. If the subject isn't addressed, you may be raising someone who is unable to handle budgeting or financial decisions as they become an adult.
I already have age-appropriate conversations with my son around sex. It's time for me to start those age-appropriate conversations with him around our family's expenses. Clearly, I can't tell my almost five-year-old what my yearly salary is (five-year-olds are not known for their discretion skills), but I can start him off slow. Here are some of the ideas I am trying out:
- Use cash at stores. This is a bit of extra work for me, since I usually use my debit card, but worth it for now. My son knows that money has different values, but because I use my debit card, he doesn't see money in action. With cash, he can see the money being spent.
- Make value equations for him. The value of his weekly school tuition might not make sense to him, but if I show him how many toys we could buy with his weekly tuition (and then remind him that education is more important than toys), I think he would start to understand.
- Ask him questions back. If my son has a question about money, the best thing I can do is ask him, "Why do you ask?" His answer will give me the time I need to frame my response and let him know that his curiosity is OK.