December 3, 2007

The value of a buck

I wanted to share with you what I did to teach my children the value of a buck in hopes that this may help a few of you out there, even if you aren’t a single parent, to give your children a reality check. As a single mother (which is my reality), life on a day-to-day basis is usually about survival. Having the money to pay bills, buy food, keep gas in the car, and paying for day care can be overwhelming to say the least. Add Christmas to the mix and it could be enough to throw you over the edge. A lot of us feel guilty because we can’t give our children everything they want. I’m telling you now, don’t!! When “give me” and “I want” are the only thing that comes out of their mouth in regards to their Christmas list or birthdays for that matter, you need to nip it in the butt. I was beside myself one year with worry (wait, every year) wondering what in the heck I was going to do to make ends meet and have something left over to buy presents for the kids. I decided to set both of them down, with a stack of bills, and show them where ALL of my money went. The only realization some kids have is that if you have checks, you MUST have money. Let them watch you write out your bills and then show them what you have left over to live off of until you get paid again. Ask for suggestions. For example, “I have $20 dollars left over after paying all of these bills and the present you wants costs $200. How can Mommy pay for this? What do you suggest Mommy do?” After I did that, the Christmas list was modified to one thing that they really wanted and I was told that even if they didn’t get it, that was OK. This came from both of them. You have to be honest with your kids. We have enough to worry about but living a life of make believe doesn’t teach them anything. My kids have done without a lot of things they really wanted. They were taught that if what they wanted was something they couldn’t live without, they had to earn money to buy it themselves. That teaches them responsibility and the way the world really works. If you give a child everything they want, they will expect it all the time. Children are visual, they need proof so give it to them. Stop feeling guilty. It doesn’t make you a bad parent, it makes you human.

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