*Terribly hotch-potch, incoherent thoughts being scribbled, more like an introspection than anything else*
This is something I have been asking myself for quite sometime now. I’m at a stage of parenting where I am unable to decide how appropriate it is to talk about money to my 6year old kid. Is it too early or just the right time or am I late already in instilling the importance of the ‘M’ word to my child?
Of course, like any parent, I want my child to understand the value of money. I want her to know that she need not get all that she asks for. Every little trip to the toy store or book store or any shop for that matter need not mean that she gets to pick up any thing and bring it home. Sometimes she may have to earn to get what she wants. Which is why we have started playing this li’l game lately, where every time she does something good- eg. eat her meals on time, sleep on time, finish her homework, treat people around her well, clean up her room, etc. etc.- she gets to earn a point- each point valued at one riyal- that she has to note down in a book. And at the end of the month based on the number of points, she earns riyals which she can use to buy anything that she wants.
I cant claim this game a success yet, though, for there still are days when those trips to the toy store and grocery store end up in a massive tantrum-throwing and ‘nobody-loves-me’ session because, “Amma didn’t buy the kitchen set” or “Papa didnt get the chocolates I liked”. Yes there are days when she goes on a rampant ‘lets buy this dress’, ‘I want that shoe’, ‘I want this’, ‘I want that’ spree and I explain to her about how all those things require a lot of money and that she needs to learn to be happy with what she has.
There are times when she finds something interesting at a friend’s house or in a TV show and asks for a similar one for herself and I end up denying her mostly because I know it is just a momentary fascination that she will not fancy for long, and eventually will dump it inside her toy-chest never to be taken out.
And at other times when I deny her, I tell her that it is expensive which her Amma and Papa cannot buy for her.
Whenever I see her disregarding her toys and her other possessions, I have found myself drilling into my child, the need to give due importance to money, the importance of learning to understand the genuine need to have something before demanding for it and learn to forgo the things that she doesn’t need because her parents are working really hard to bring in the money and manage it so she can get what she wants. So its only natural that she is thoughtful enough to consider all of that.
The other day her constant fiddling with the TV had me chide her for rough-handling something that was very expensive and how we cant afford a costly repair on it, so she had to be more cautious and less clumsy.
Such conversations with her have resulted, I observe, in her going through a change in the way she approaches us and things around her in general.
Now, when something catches her fancy, instead of jumping around with excitement at the prospect of buying it, she merely asks us, ‘can we buy this Amma, does it cost a lot?’ or ‘I wish the doll house wasnt so expensive!’
Thats when I sense her holding herself back and wonder if I am being a little too harsh on her by pushing her to grown up too fast, if I am denying her the little pleasures way too soon..
On another occasion, at a family gathering in a restaurant, Namnam dropped a soup bowl on the floor leading her to a nervous query, ‘Amma, will I have to pay for this bowl?’
When I see her running around the toy store looking for that perfect toy and settling in for the next best because- in her own words- ‘it costs so much!’, I feel a tinge of guilt seep into me! I feel immensely overwhelmed at seeing her growing up so fast so soon! Does she have to grow up so soon?
I do want her to learn about saving, to prioritize her needs, to value money, to manage finances. And I know life will teach her all of that. But is it really the time to introduce her to that phase? Am I going overboard? Would I rather let her be? God am I crazy?
I really dont know what is the right thing to do here…