much money do we have, Dad?" my eight year old son asked
one day, as we were shopping. "Do we have more money than
Niko's family?" He looked at me expectantly as my heart
beat a little faster.
do I answer?" I thought to myself. "A million dollars
would mean as much to him as a hundred dollars, within
his current frame of reference. What does he really want
managed somehow that time to fumble across the vast conceptual
divide between us and enjoyed an interesting exchange.
I said: "Yes we do have more money than our friends because
we were given money by my grandmother. Luckily, both Niko's
family and ours have plenty, and plenty to share, and
no matter how rich or poor you are, you can always find
others with more or less than you." He looked deep in
my eyes and said, "Can I buy those Pokémon cards at Walgreens?"
often have trouble communicating with my son. I get frustrated
and a little rigid, and he complains that I'm being unfair
or telling him too much what (or what not!) to do. I keep
reminding myself (with the reassurance of more experienced
dads) that parenting is not a linear process. A child
keeps changing, and, as subtle as it may seem in comparison
to my child, I keep changing as well.
the Autumn '95 issue of
More than Money
Children and Money, we focused on how much money is wise
to leave our children. In this issue, we offer a glimpse
at how affluent people help the children in their lives
cultivate financial values, vision, and integrity. Questions
we asked interviewees included: "How do you nurture financial
independence and competence
at different developmental stages? How do cultural forces
help or hurt your efforts to cultivate certain values
about spending, earning, investing, giving, and community
involvement? How do you balance passing on your values
and helping a young person to cultivate their own values?"
people we interviewed focused on the risks and challenges
of talking openly with children about money; others spoke
eloquently about the power of parental example and a quintessential
challenge of passing values on to children: in this complex
and imperfect world, to truly live our values is an art.
We need not be ashamed of striving our whole lives to
live congruently with our deepest beliefs.
stories here are primarily from parents and step-parents,
yet I hope this issue will stimulate and encourage all
of us who have--or at some time may have--a meaningful
relationship with a child, whether as an aunt or uncle,
neighbor, teacher, minister, trust officer, or even as
a friend to other parents.
know the popular saying that it takes a village to raise
a child? The teaching I take from this is two-fold: first,
as a parent, don't presume more influence than is your
proper share, and second, don't underestimate the possible
value of your attention to children who are not "yours."
Imagine a world in which everyone claimed full responsibility
for the welfare of all the children and there was not
a single child who was not fed, loved, and given shelter.
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