I have noticed that India is the only country which treats son/daughter as children even after they have grown up, got married and have children of their own. We as parents think it is necessary to support our offspring till the ability of us to do so. This inculcates a sense of dependency on the offspring which is often very difficult when they are unable to take care of themselves. Parents are the ones creating such situation by providing all the support they can give. So in a sense letting go the children to grow up on their own and make their own destiny as done in most other countries is one of the salient aspects of parenting. You need not just let go at some age randomly without equipping them with skills which are needed. But inculcate the values and skills they need to cope up in this hard world.
Talking about skills, money management skill is one of the greatest skills we need to teach our children at a very young age.
How to teach children the real value of Money? It is a tad difficult, isn’t it? I haven’t really done it, so I don’t know how it should be done.
On one of our nicest Easter Sunday afternoons we co-brothers were chatting about the behavior of kids in our large family. This sprung upon a very controversial topic to us. Do our kids value money as we do? Some of our kids don’t worry when an A/C room door is left open. Some don’t care whatever reason we come up with when something they want is rejected. Some even go to the strengths of comparing their gifts to those we get ourselves to say, “Why can’t I have this?”
It is a pretty tricky situation. I for myself have seen my parents toiling for hard earned money and their hesitation in spending it without second thought. I have thus earned the same trait as my parents and put a lot of thought regarding doing any kind of spending. But for my kid this is not the case. She practically doesn’t see my way of earning/spending money. It’s all virtual for her. For example, how can she know how the Electricity bills are paid for when she doesn’t even know about ECS. All she knows is that she needs A/C in the middle of the day, when she arrives from her school. So when she is taken to a shop she just sees her items and picks up the one she likes. And when I pay up on my credit card, she doesn’t see the value which has been used. The credit/debit card works just like an unlimited storage of money. How can I ever show her how much what she has chosen is costing her Dad.
Earlier during the days, I used to handle the money for my mother a lot. So, in shops I calculate the amount to be paid, by hand and hand it over to the shop-owner. This enabled a little bit of bonding with the real currency. Which when paid with lower denominations meant much more that when it is paid with higher denominations. As I grew and knew about denominations too, I was able to fathom how much rupees a 1000 rupee note will cost and how it should be handled. Now, on this modern day and times, how can we ever teach our kid such stuff?
There is an old proverb in Tamil saying, ‘Even if you drop something in the ocean, do measure and dump it’ (ஆத்துல போட்டாலும் அளந்து போடு). So, for the kids to know about the cost they are spending, no matter what we are they are able to earn is one the most important aspects of life as we know it. So, teaching the children the value of their desires is by far the most important thing we can impart as parents in them.
I believe I have got the answer. First of all, the kid needs to have some basic math knowledge. Mainly those of counting, multiplication, division & denominations (such as units, tens, 100s, 1000s etc.,). So if a product costs Rs. 155, then the kid should convert this into 155 one rupee notes immediately, or one 100 Rs note, one 50 Rs note and one 5 Rs note. Thus, if he/she can interpret how much 1 Re will be valued, he/she can easily calculate the amount they are about to spend. Most important of all, we have to let them know to get the price before selecting an item for purchase.
On the matter or electricity, the knowledge needs to be more, but figuratively, we can compare and show how much we would have spent on A/C on any given month based on the consumption made. Like this summer, if the A/C runs day-in and day-out, we can compare the electricity bills to the winter ones and explain how this has affected our cost. This can give a better picture to our kids regarding the usage as well as the cost.
Another habit which can inculcate the value for money is chores. The old proverb not only explains to know what you are expending monetarily but also what effort we put in to bring in the same funds. For example, if a person works very hard to just earn for one meal a day, we definitely know that he has been had. This value of the effort must also be inculcated into our offspring, such that they know how they are valued. We have to give them household chores and based on which make them earn their allowances. The pocket money, allowance or gifts have to be valued by the offspring based on the effort they give either on the school or on the house. Similarly any community work they do have to be nicely rewarded. This will automatically inculcate the value based system. Using this value system they can evolve on to be a better judge of the value of their efforts as well as their qualifications.
It is not just survival of the fittest we are teaching, but the manner in which they can carry themselves among the crowd as well lead the crowd with best practices that we have learned. Parent is not a commander but a mentor in most ways to an offspring. The way we should work with our children from when they are an infant, a child, an adolescent teen, a youth and a grown up varies a lot. It is quite a challenge for a parent to don multiple roles and to sometimes mask your own feelings for the betterment of your own children.
Mostly it is a give and take relationship, the offspring makes you a real man/woman and you help them to grow to their own destiny.