Talking finance with your kids

October 2, 2008 8:56:34 PM PDT
With America's economy in a crisis, many parents are concerned about the impact the country's financial status is having on our children. Jennifer and Jay Gushue say the current state of our economy is not only on their minds, but also weighing heavily on their 8-year-old son Nick.

"I was very worried about my son especially because he understands it," Jay said.

The Gushues say stress about their 401k and other investments has caused them to cut back on eating out, shopping, and vacations.

"In general families often find it difficult to talk to kids about money and to know which aspects of that to talk about," Dr. Anne Kazak with Children's Hospital of Philadelphia said.

Dr. Kazak says families under financial stress should be aware of how much their children are exposed to that information.

"When parents worry kids pick up on that so some kids may be hearing their parents talking about things and being worried about that," Dr. Kazak said.

According to Dr. Kazak parents facing financial woes should first have conversations behind closed doors, being careful not to expose a child to what may amount to just speculation.

"I don't think there is much to be gained by having a child worry about things that are not going to happen," Dr. Kazak said.

For example if you're worried about a potential layoff, don't expose your child to that fear.

Dr. Kazak says kids crave consistency and security.

"So to the extent possible to have life go on and to continue to do things you do as a family maybe finding ways in the background to save money to do things in a less expensive way," Dr. Kazak said.

Once you have specific details on what the future holds, sit down with your child and have a conversation.

"I really think its critical regardless of the age to have a conversation about money," Financial advisor Harris Fishman said.

Fishman offers these tips on how to have that conversation:

First, be positive and don't lecture.

Be open and honest.

Also, ask questions, and answer questions from your child.

Also, you may try using humor, kids relate to that.

And finally, make sure your child knows he or she can always come to you for an explanation no matter how stressful times get.

Fishman believes parents should teach children how money works, so they are able to become fiscally sound adults.

"If they don't have an understanding about money and about the cost of money, it's easy to just fill out these credit cards and to just start buying some things," Fishman said.

The Gushue's are talking to their son now.


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