I often reminisce back to when my daughters were young.
Maybe I shouldn’t have let them cry it out as one-year-olds. “I should have, I could have” plays out in every parent’s head.
All the love in the world isn’t going to shelter us from making mistakes. The challenge that comes from this is being able to embrace our humanity and not punish ourselves. We all need self-compassion and self-love.
The same is true with our relationship with money because how you feel about yourself will affect how you handle money. Also, how you handle money will affect your children. This is a cycle that can become positive.
By creating a thriving, abundant, healthy attitude with your own money, you can then pass on that same healthy attitude to your children. Like a sponge, they will soak up the attitudes and beliefs around them, even when you think they are too young to understand.
Teaching our children about money is more than a conversation. It is making a commitment to recognizing our own personal money stories. As a parent, we can define what money means to each of us and then decide what values and beliefs we want our children to grow up with.
However, our words and wants need to align with our actions. When they don’t match, our children will notice.
My older daughter Mikayla and I went out for a walk around the park with our dog. We were chatting and enjoying the beautiful sunset and summer weather. I had mentioned that it would be nice to plan another family vacation to Tofino and rent a house on the beach.
We had done that a few years back and it was one of my favourite places to be with family and friends. My daughter responded, “Yes, that would be great. But this time can you not stress about money the whole time? I felt stressed about it.”
I stopped abruptly in the middle of the walking path with our dog, causing the couple behind us to have to swerve to the side to go around us to avoid a pile-up.
I was shocked.
We had saved and planned for that trip and had plenty of money. My initial reaction was very defensive. I thought I did everything I was supposed to as the leader of my tribe—we had the cash flow plan, we knew our family priorities and values, and we communicated.
I thought we felt free and unconstrained because of our positive abundant harmony.
What did I miss?
I think the answer is I tried too hard. My daughter shared with me that she would hear a few conversations in the kitchen of me and my husband checking in with the prices of the surf lessons or the price of the groceries.
It was routine conversation to me and part of my cash flow process, but those discussions projected worry on to my daughter.
Send the Right Message
As parents, we aren’t perfect, no matter how hard we try. We want to install healthy habits and to lead by example, but sometimes it is easy to skip the positive money message because of our own negative thoughts and beliefs.
As you work on rewriting your own money beliefs, you can use these tips as reminders to come back to as needed:
- Get your own finances in order so that you can show your children by example that you are thinking of the future and making conscientious decisions for the family. Be a financial leader.
- Teach early. Our children are never too young to learn healthy habits. Even toddlers can pick up on our attitudes and actions.
- Communicate in a positive manner about money. For example, if bills come in the mail, it is easy to throw a few choice, negative words around and make a comment about not having enough money to pay all the bills. You might be venting, but a child might think you literally mean you have no money. Worry and fear could become associated with common bills.
Astra is an independent financial planning firm that not only manages your wealth, but also approaches your money with a holistic approach. We strive to help you and your family make the best financial decisions with your interest at heart.