How Do We Communicate with Our Children about These Economically Stressful Times?

During these tough economic times how do you help your children understand the sacrifices each family member must make? How many times have you said, “When you leave a room turn the light off” or “haven’t you been in the shower long enough?” It takes time to help children understand the connection between their utility usage and cost savings or even the impact it has on the environment. Continued conversations are necessary, but how do we do this without stressing everyone out?

Consider the following when thinking about communicating with your child about these current economically stressful times:

The value of spending today versus saving for tomorrow has become our cultural norm. Many individuals seek immediate gratification that leads to “broken diets, delayed exercise plans, unfulfilled savings plans, and unanticipated debt (Anderson & Nevitte, 2006).” How then do parents balance the need to fulfill today’s desires with a need for teaching/modeling financial moderation to their children?

One way to begin is by having critical conversations with them, especially now, about our current economic crisis. In addition to these critical conversations, it is necessary to become mindful of the unspoken messages you send them. For some people, it helps to talk about things during stressful times – it decreases the amount of uncertainty and helps people begin to plan.

Remember, provide a good balance between the value of spending and the value of saving for tomorrow; demonstrate your economic/money values to your children through your actions; and send a message of hope in the face of economic uncertainty.