With the season of giving here at our doorstep this is a great time to talk about wealth, money and poverty with our kids. We have so many teachable moments this time of the year to discuss this topic, “Mommy are we rich?” Last year, we had a neat opportunity when we literally had “the season of giving” at our door step. When our doorbell rang Christmas morning you can click here for the story. Enjoy this wonderful perspective from our newest contributor, Beth. We are so excited to have her on our team!
Contributing Writer: Beth D Saavedra
“Mom, we’re rich, right?” How would you answer that question?
Probably you’re wondering whether I am rich, and I would answer, “How do you define rich?”
By this fun Wall Street Journal calculator, my family falls in the bottom half of the U.S. based on our income. But that number is too simple, since it doesn’t factor in household size (there are six of us), or net worth (we don’t own a home, but we do own our car), or debts (we try not to carry a balance on our credit card, but don’t always succeed). And then there’s this calculator of how rich we are compared to the rest of the world, which says our family is in the richest 17% of the world’s population. Quite a step up from our U.S. percentage!
Defining wealth is a slippery business. And it gets slipperier when we realize that there are materially poor people who consider themselves rich, just as there are people with six figure incomes who lose sleep at night over finances.
Maybe the point is not to fixate on a number, but to see how we can shape our (and our children’s) attitudes about money.
Do we even talk about money with our kids? A recent study conducted for the American Institute of CPAs shows most parents would rather talk to their kids about practically any topic other than money. Could the first step to a healthy view of money be to break the taboo and actually talk to our children about where we are at financially? Can we start explaining to them some of our purchasing decisions?
Our actions tell a more powerful tale than any words about money we might say to our kids. When money is tight, are my children learning from me that worry and complaining are the normal response? When we have extra, do they automatically think about whom they can share the abundance with?
Sometimes I feel poor (like when the only way I can buy groceries at the end of the month is to use my credit card). Sometimes I feel rich (like when I think about how many family members, church friends, and the greater community would be ready in a second to lend us a hand, if we needed a loan). Either way, I want my kids to know that gratitude should be our default response to life.
So how did I respond to my son’s question? “Honey, we are rich. We don’t have everything we want, but we have so much more than we need. Let’s thank God for some of your favorite things, right now.” And we did.
How would you respond?
Also, from Beth: Wasted Thoughts on Dissatisfaction with My Body
Beth Saavedra is an avid fan of her husband, the band U2, chocolate and the Bible. She loves her four kiddos more than life itself. Beth makes her messy, friend-filled home in Ecuador. You can find her at http://saavedrastories.blogspot.com.