I'm a little behind on my blog reading, but when I dropped by Sunflower's blog, The Debt Chronicles, her comments about her father really got me to thinking.
I grew up in a working class family that seldom discussed finances. As children, my sister and I would ask for things or ask for money, and the answer was either yes or no, and that was it. It was only as an adult that I realized our family was always teetering on the edge of poverty. Still, because that was the same for most of the families in our small town, I never felt particuarly poor.
However, I was determined that money would not be a taboo subject with my kids. I wanted them to know the general state of my finances (which were tight while I was rearing them) so I did talk money with the children. Now I wonder if I did so too frankly.
Sunflower says that her father's comments ruined her family vacations.
I well remember one Disneyland vacation with three of my daughters where I ran out of money and we ate peanut butter sandwiches the entire two days it took us to drive home. I know that I spent those two days obsessing out loud about the money we'd spent and whether I had enough to buy gas to get us back.
Now, I'm wishing I hadn't done that. Too much information? At the expense of their pleasure in the vacation?
Not that I think my parents were necessarily correct either--it might have done me good to know the sacrifices they made to give my sister and I everything we needed and much of what we wanted.
But I don't think that reminding children of the pain of every single expenditure is the way to go. Once the decision is made to spend the money, then that should be it. Whatever is done with it should be enjoyed to the fullest--otherwise what is the point? If that enjoyment comes at the price of foregoing some other pleasure down the road, so be it. Say "no" to the new expenditure. Say why that is so. And move on.
I think I'll ask my adult kids how they now feel about the way I talked about money when they were living at home.
I wonder if I'll appreciate the answers.