When Is The Right Time To Talk About Money With Children?

What scares you more, talking about money or sex with your children? Would you prefer discussing your income, your life, property insurance coverage, and any investments you have, or would you rather discuss intercourse and intimacy?

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Another tough question is in how much detail should you discuss your money with your children?

The vast majority of parents and guardians want their children to understand the value of money and goods, grasp basic finance, and learn a bit about budgets and boundaries. Most parents and guardians also hope their kids will learn some economic and personal finance concepts in school. Math classes and economics courses aid in that, but how much should the parental figures discuss with their youngsters?

A recent article in the New York Times encourages families to discuss their finances with their kids by selecting particular levels and topics to tackle. Most teenagers will need to find out certain family financial details when they apply for financial aid. A curious kid can look up details of her family’s home equity and other monetary matters on various websites. When parents lose their jobs, take on new jobs, divorce or experience other major life-changes, they may want to disclose a good deal about their finances to their children.

However, it is still an uncomfortable topic, and parents wonder how to put the issue in perspective while balancing transparency. Parents worry that kids will feel entitled or feel quite spooked by the family’s finances or at least overwhelmed. Parents may be concerned that kids will divulge their financial situations to people who should not be aware of them as well. It is recommended that if you do share intricate financial details with your kids, ask them to keep the matter private.

Tailor the matter to their age and what you think they can grasp. A supermarket shopping trip and watching you write checks to pay monthly bills are two common ways to share some financial data with your children. Tax season is approaching, so you may want to show your child some of the prep work that goes into preparing your taxes.

Just as parents are tasked with discussing sexuality issues and substance abuse with their children, monetary issues are something to approach. These are all uncomfortable topics but part of growing up. There are parents and guardians who do avoid all discussion of these topics, and that can lead to serious problems down the road. Prudent discussion and role modelling are key, especially if you are a Liberal American parent!


Ellen Levitt is the author of The Lost Synagogues of Brooklyn (2009), The Lost Synagogues of the Bronx and Queens (2011) and The Lost Synagogues of Manhattan (2013), all published by Avotaynu. She is a lifelong New Yorker, a veteran public school teacher, writer and photographer. Bird lover as well.