Communicating Financial Lack to Children

Economic conditions fluctuate wildly over time. Many families will from time to time find themselves in situations where finances are lacking. It can be very difficult to help children to comprehend the reality of lack of money to purchase the necessities of life. Parents have a responsibility to educate their children when there is financial lack and to help them to deal with it appropriately. What are some practical methods that parents can use to explain a lack of financial resources to a child?

To explain a lack of finances to a child, the parent must first make sure that the child has an adequate grasp of how finances come in to a household. The financial reserves of a household and how they are used is a complicated topic, but it can be expressed to a child in language that he or she can understand. Finance involves both the monetary reserves that come into a household and the way in which those reserves are used. Children should have at least a general grasp of how the parents earn money and the ways in which that amount of money can vary. The better grasp that a child has of this process, the easier it will be for a parent to explain why there is a lack.

Lack of finances should never be communicated to a child in a way that is scary. Parents need to be careful not to take out their frustration on their children or demonstrate extreme frustration in their presence. While struggling to be able to meet the needs of children can be very difficult and even contain a sense of shame for a parent, when lack of financial resources is explained to a child it should always be done in as calm and matter of fact a manner as possible. Children don’t need to know all the details, but just those details that deal specifically with them. There should always be a sense of hopefulness that conditions will not necessarily remain as they are and that a lack of finances can change for the better in the future.

Children should never feel that they are a burden. Their needs should always be affirmed, and a parent must never communicate that taking care of them is the source of their financial struggles. Children are a wonderful blessing for parents, and when discussing the fact that finances are lacking the parent must always maintain the joy of the responsibility that the he or she has been given. Helping children to distinguish between necessities and extravagances is an essential concept in walking a child through a season of financial lack. A helpful exercise is to sit down with a child and go over the various areas that money is used in the household. By assessing how crucial each item is to daily living, the parent allows the child to be part of the process without making it too difficult to bear for him or her. The child should always know how much he or she is loved and appreciated. This is even more crucial during a time of financial scarcity or hardship.

A lack of finances should be communicated honestly to a child and not talked about merely in whispers in secret. A thing becomes darker and more worrisome when it is kept in the dark. When a parent keeps something important from a child, the child has a sense of it and that can create a mistrust of the parent. While clearly children do not need to know all the details of a household’s financial condition, as a member of the household the child does have the right to know some things. An honest assessment along with the reminder that the current condition can change is a good approach. Children tend to focus primarily on the short term, and parents need to take the time to help look to a future that may be better than the present. When parents have laid a foundation of honest communication about important issues with their children, then a lack of finances will be able to be addressed without undue worry or shame.

Parents need to learn to communicate value to their children in ways that do not necessarily involve the buying of things or experiences. While buying things for children is often the easiest way of showing affection for them, it creates a monetary burden that a household cannot necessarily maintain. Parents should help children see that time spent with parents doing activities that do not cost a great deal or are free can be an ever greater experience of love and affection. A regular communication of value and affection through words, time spent and genuine interest will establish a strong foundation from which the issue of financial lack or other challenges can be discussed. Maintaining good communication pathways when things are going well will do much to help when difficult times come and when children need to understand the challenge faced by the household.

Difficult economic times do occur. No matter how hard parents work, a lack of finances sometimes comes upon a household. Children are a central component of a household and deserve to share in both the rewards and challenges of its financial condition. Lack of finances should never be blamed on children or explained in a way that scares them. The more that parents can bring children into the process and emphasize that the current condition is only temporary, the easier it will be to communicate financial lack to children in a way that they can understand and accept. Financial resources come and go, but children are a joyful responsibility for a lifetime. The deeper the bonds that have been built, the easier it will be to share important and difficult information with children. Moreover, this affirms their role and makes them a partner in helping to overcome a temporary financial difficulty while also helping them look forward to better times to come.