I’m a mom and I’ve no problem confessing that I get this parenting lark wrong (a lot!).

When I do, I can either beat myself up about it, or I can muddle through and take time out at a later stage to reflect and ask how I could have handled things better.

When it comes to my kid’s financial education I’ve often said the wrong thing or reacted the wrong way in the moment. I’m constantly learning how to do the ‘mom’ thing better, and this month has been a constant reminder.

For example, our kids fair pretty well in the ‘after school’ activities department, in my opinion. They go to soccer, learn to swim and do drama 3 nights a week, which leaves 2 school nights for play with their friends. Recently however I’ve been bombarded with…”I would LOVE to go to art classes mom”…”why don’t I do basketball like John, mom” and ”Can I learn to play the guitar Mom, it’s only $X a week, mom”.

I have found myself repeatedly saying “No”, and while the guilt washed over me I would question myself; “am I stifling my child’s inner Picasso, Michael Jordan or Hendrix?” Then I would check myself. Of course I’m not!

It is perfectly natural and right to deny kids a lot of what they want – that’s life! Of course I want them to experience all they can but I also have to be practical and balance that against a myriad of other factors. Does their gain outweigh the time, money and effort involved in this additional activity? Can it wait for another semester? Most of the time the answer is “Yes, it can”.

What I have learnt though is that it’s not enough to simply deny them their wish with a straightforward ‘NO’. That teaches them nothing. I have to explain why. Otherwise I’m just delivering the punch line without any context.

Now, when I’m asked the ‘Can I” question, my response is a little more measured. First I ask why? If the answer is rational, my next question is – How? How can we make it work within our current schedule? How much will it cost? How will that cost affect our weekly budget and other activities? Would they be willing be pay for it out of their weekly allowance?

Most of the time, this process of reasoning means that my kid answers their own question without me having to say much at all.

As a result, their reasoning skills have really improved, they have started to understand the concept of delayed gratification and they have also started to realize that all money transactions are about a choice.

So far its a win-win. Long may that continue. :-)


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