Answering Your Kids’ Questions About Money Can Be Incredibly Awkward
“Mommy, are we rich or are we poor?” This is the question my daughter asked me recently. She had been leading up to it for quite some time and I can’t say I was surprised to hear it. However, that did not mean I had a neat and tidy answer prepared, and that is because answering your kids’ questions about money can be so awkward.
My daughter is seven years old and in the second grade. She is coming into that stage of childhood where one realizes that everyone is different. Of course, kids realize this sooner than that but it’s more simplistic- such as, “you’re a boy, I’m a girl” or “my eyes are blue, your eyes are brown.” At her current age, my daughter is just starting to truly understand that not all families are the same when it comes to means. That some of her friends live in huge houses and have everything imaginable while others tell her about not getting any presents for Christmas with the majority sitting somewhere in the middle.
We haven’t talked about money too much at this point. We have talked about how mommy and daddy work hard and that we have to treat our belongings with respect because they cost money but that’s mostly it. Also, we have always told her to be grateful, noting that some kids don’t have nearly what she has, but that platitude is no longer enough for her. She wants to know how much we have and also, wants to dissect what her friends have and try to label them as rich or poor. Kids can be very black and white, so I suppose this is normal?
When she asked me that question, I asked her what made her think of it. She told me how one of her friends has 100 Monster High dolls and compared it to her three. She asked me if that means we are poor. I froze up at first- I felt like whatever I said would matter very much. I then gave her a somewhat clumsy talk about how each family chooses to spend it’s money on different things and also, that people sometimes receive gifts from family members and that her friend having that many toys could be a result of any number of factors. I went on to explain that rich or poor, as long as someone is a good friend, it does not matter- that trying to figure out whether a family has money or not is something she shouldn’t be concerned with.
I then told her that we are neither rich or poor- that we have money for everything we need and many things that we want and that it puts us somewhere in the middle. That we have a nice, warm, safe house and cars that work and our cupboards are always full of food and that she does not need to worry because when I thought about it, that was probably her concern deep down. She wanted some confirmation that our family is secure and she will always be taken care of.
I know there will be much to discuss in regard to money as they years go on, that this little talk is only the beginning. Seeing your kids start to understand the world around them in this way is both beautiful and heart-breaking and like anything else in parenting, I am just feeling my way through, hoping I am doing the right thing.