Discussing Money Problems with Children

When money becomes scarce, the whole family, from young children to teens to
parents, can feel the pinch. Though family members may have limited or no control
over the causes of their financial difficulties, they can control their responses and
discuss money problems in a way that minimizes stress and anxiety in children.

• Parents can turn tough times into
learning situations. Help children
realize that managing money in
tough times requires communication,
patience and hard work. Also, assist
children to understand that money
problems do not need to rob the
family of unity or happiness,
simple things that cost little or
nothing can enrich family life
and sticking together is essential
to getting through challenges.

• Parents and other adults should
model how the family can have fun
together in less expensive ways.
Model for children the value of fun,
inexpensive ways to enjoy each
other, such as a picnic at the
park, renting a video and making
popcorn, riding bicycles as a family,
volunteering on a service project
or other family activities.

• Increase family communication
and solidarity and help children
feel some control in their lives.
Take time to communicate
regularly, discuss financial
concerns appropriately and
express to all family members that
they are loved and appreciated.

• Involve all family members in
making decisions about money.
In both tough times and good times,
families tend to draw closer as they
work together and communicate
in making money decisions.
Children grow in understanding
and self-worth when they contribute
to the resolution of financial
problems. This may involve a teen
getting a part-time job or children
agreeing to limit their requests
for outside entertainment, such
as movies.

• Assist children to become wise
consumers and discipline their
spending habits. During tough times,
children can learn to be wise about
their spending choices and use
discipline in how they spend money.

• Encourage children to contribute
in ways that are appropriate to their
age. Children can help during tough
times by saving money they earn,
limiting their spending choices or
requests, or contributing income
from a part-time job to help with
family needs. Do not put undue
burdens on children to generate
economic support, but discuss
options and allow them to contribute
in ways that are meaningful.