Question: When we were growing up my father constantly reminded us to be responsible with money. But I always got the feeling with him it was about much more than being responsible. He seemed to get a lot of validation out of how much money we had, which I think went too far. As a result, I find myself shy about teaching my own kids financial responsibility for fear they’ll get the same message from me. Suggestions?
Most of the time we communicate our messages very clearly, despite what we say.
No where is that more true than in the home.
A lot of what we learn in the home about money is more caught than taught.
Your parents’ words said one thing, while their lives and attitudes said something a bit different.
The Greeks called it ethos. It’s the atmosphere or spirit of a place (like your home).
An ethos or atmosphere is hard to fake. In fact, it is the very thing that most people react to when they hear someone verbalizing one thing, yet living just the opposite. When that happens, our inner alarms start going off, telling us something isn’t right.
Be honest and ask yourself, “Am I creating a financial atmosphere in my home that is negative, imbalanced or positive?”
You can create a negative financial atmosphere in your home if your attitude gives off messages that say (usually non-verbally), “Money is evil,” or “money is a source of problems.”
You can also produce a negative financial atmosphere by communicating that you are a victim of money or that money is something you simply cannot ever get control of. Or that money causes conflicts in your family and is, therefore, something to be avoided at all costs.
Even if you aren’t negative, you can still create an unhealthy, imbalanced atmosphere that communicates messages such as “money is the answer to all my problems,” or “the more money I have, the happier I will be,” or “the more important I will be.”
A severe inner conflict may occur in a young person when they hear the words of one message, yet see and feel the atmosphere of the real message – the one that is really believed (and lived out).
So perhaps the most important thing to realize about the financial atmosphere of your home is that it’s just the truth of what you believe seeping out and overwhelming any spoken words to the contrary.
Are you creating a positive financial atmosphere in your home? Do those under your roof get unspoken messages such as, “money is an important tool,” and “money has to be carefully managed to be useful.”?
Perhaps the healthiest financial atmosphere you could produce in your home is one that knows the value of a dollar…and that its nowhere close to the value of a person. It’s an ethos that says, “Money is never the highest value in this home – people are.”
If you want to produce a healthy financial atmosphere in your home, look deep within and be honest about what you really believe.
Because, like it or not, that’s what your kids (and grandkids!) are going to see.