Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tough Lessons

You know how there are some things that kids do exactly as their parents do?
They play the same sports, drink the same beverages, even brush their teeth the same goofy way.

Then there are others that they do exactly the opposite?

Like the teenager who says, "my parents were so strict!" So, ten years later their own children are running around crazy and end up being the "we unschool and spend all our time in a family rock band" type clan on Wife Swap.

Both are the result of how you nurture your kid.

I want to think that you can teach them to be good with money works the same way we will (one day - a long time from now) teach them to drive a car.... You start teaching a little bit one day, more over the next few weeks and then watch closely and pray they do the right thing before setting them free.

I want to think that. And if wishing and hoping could make it happen. It would be awesome. Totally and completely awesome.

But here is the truth. I don't think it works that way with finances.

Dang it!

But I'm gonna try my best to make my kids money smart anyway... and at some point in their 20's or something I'll probably want to wring at least one of their necks for doing something stupid and feel like it was a total waste. But still - I'm gonna try.

So tonight at the grocery store I tried.

We were on the fruit snack aisle. It was already dinner time and it was just me and the kids. We needed to get some fruit snacks, get some cheese and head home. We needed to be quick and I didn't feel like dealing with a melt down.

I really didn't want to hear any fussing or crying. We'd been having a great afternoon.

Then it started. I picked up our normal box of fruit snacks. I turned to put them in the cart. And in the moment between my hand and the bottom of the shopping basket the whining started.

"But I want the Tianna fruit snack."


"But these are the ones we get because they are healthier and a good value, and its time to go home."

Totally the typical way that I handle questions.

Then I paused. I looked at my daughter and said, "Do you know what I mean when I say a good value, or would you like me to explain?"

She picked explain and I laid it out for her.

The fruit snacks that Mommy buys for us are a good value because they cost less than the others and we have a coupon. So, we have extra money left over that we wouldn't have if we bought the princess ones.

That is when I looked over and could tell she didn't get it.

So, I started over.

If we buy the fruit snacks that you want we need almost all of these four dollars. If we buy the ones Mommy usually gets we need one dollar and a couple coins. So, we have almost three dollars left over.

Three dollars isn't a lot, but we buy fruit snacks every week. If we do it Mommy's way after four weeks we will have enough dollars left over for two people - like you and me - to go to a movie.

(Okay, so it would have to be a matinee and not in 3D, but I'm trying to make a point.)

"Really?" She says.

"Yep," I reply. "So knowing that what would you do if you were the Mommy?"

"I'd buy the same fruit snacks as you and take my kids to see Nemo like they talked about when we went to Brave."

Sweet. She made the choice I wanted her to make.

Guess we'll end up at Nemo in 3D.


  1. Cute story! You are such a good mom to try and teach her young. I think my parents just always said NO without explaining it!!