My Kids are Scared of Being Broke

Posted by idawrites on January 30, 2008 in Children, Dinner Topic, Poverty |

The setup: Every night, our family sits together at the dinner table. There are very few exceptions to this rule. There are two chairs of major import at our dinner table: The Special Chair, and The Topic Chair. The children rotate their seats every night so that each of them get an opportunity to sit there. The child who sits in The Topic Chair is allowed to… you guessed it… choose the topic. The child who sits in The Special Chair gets to talk first. Over the last several years, we have had some incredible conversations and have also been enormously surprised by the things we’ve learned about our children during our family dinners.

Last night, the topic was “If you could create any law, what would it be?” Given the current political goings-on, we were happy to get up to our elbows in this topic. The laws we chose went like this:
10 year old: Everyone 10 and older could drive
12 year old: All households should have a cap on the amount of water they are allowed to use.
14 year old: Gays and Transgendered people would all have equal protections under every law. (WOW)
Mark: A flat consumption tax
Me: Every able bodied OR able minded person (as many physically handicapped people can still provide infinite value to someone’s existance) would be required to volunteer a minimum of 2 hours per week of their time.

The conversation then rambled and we discussed the CCC (Citizens Conservation Corps) that was developed during the Great Depression. Mark and I had a lively debate about whether working in return for public assistance should be compensated at a living wage, or too low for a family to scrape by on. Now, being that I was a single mother with physical disabilities working a 3rd shift waitressing job for quite a while, I can intelligently speak on the subject of public assistance. The pros, the cons, and the realities of the situations facing people who need to ask for that assistance.

Where am I going with this? Well… my youngest daughter started to cry. We’ve sufficiently scared the 10 and 12 year old children so much, by discussing the Worst Case Scenario of people who live in poverty in this country, that they are terrified at the thought of growing up and leaving home.

We have a strict honesty policy with our children. Mark and I feel that, if they’re old enough to ask questions and open a dialogue with us, we owe them straightforward (age appropriate)answers. We have been trying to teach them about budgeting. They all have their own savings accounts and get their monthly statements in the mail. I am working to teach them about budgeting, comparison shopping, saving for things that matter, and conservation. I don’t think that they will grow up to make the same mistakes I have made with money. I plan to give them a head start and a good working knowledge of money dos and don’ts.

Now to convince my youngest child that it’s ok to let go of my leg and play outside again.

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