Children and young people need to understand money and financial choices as much as any other topic, yet they don’t get ‘The Talk’ from their parents about money until they reach age, well actually, never. Most children never get The Talk.
We can easily list reasons for this, such as:
1. Most parents are barely scraping by and don’t want to scare the little ones about the reality of high interest credit card debt, empty bank accounts and zero college savings.
2. Parents have no idea what to do themselves, so teaching their children seems too daunting.
3. For the few parents that have a surplus, most are deathly afraid of ‘spoiling the children’ by letting on that there’s a surplus.
4. For the few parents with a surplus who aren’t worried about spoiling the children, there’s a catastrophe in the making. The kids are hateful, spoiled creatures.
5. Teachers (and by extension, professors) have absolutely no idea about money and finance. That’s why they’re teachers, duh.
6. The Financial Infotainment Industrial Complex offers so much nonsense and sales pitches disguised as news or advice that newbies have almost no chance of sorting through the crap, so how would parents, teachers and children know where to begin?
All of this depressing line of thinking makes me interested in New York Times financial columnist Ron Lieber’s new book The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded Generous and Smart About Money. I haven’t read it yet (it’s now on my “To Read” list) but the Wall Street Journal‘s review today makes it clear that he’s preaching a good sermon.
Lieber’s overarching theme is that parents absolutely should attempt to engage in a dialogue about money with their children, and his chapters address topics and approaches we parents can use.
What are the right lessons of those ‘service trips’ to Central America? How do you teach compound interest in a nearly zero-interest world, how to answer the question ‘are we rich?,’ what lessons about consumerism and value can be taught in the course of setting proper boundaries?
These all seems useful and important and I’ll be reading the book soon.
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