There is a secret psychology of money. Most people don't know about it.
- T. Harv Eker, author of Secrets of the Millionaire MInd
I believe this to be true! Money is not an "outside" game but something that we begin to "internalize" as children. Really. What did your parents teach you about money? Did they say "money doesn't grow on trees!" or "money is the root of all evil?" If so, you have either gained positive money management skills on your own or like many, it is something that we can continue to uproot the "money weeds" and plant "prosperity seeds."
Children are incredibly perceptive. They pick up your spoken and unspoken cues about money too. Even if you think they are not "listening in" to your adult conversation about the mortgage, credit cards, tuition and medical costs - they are likely paying attention. I promise.
So many of the signals kids pick up are not even consciously created. Take this one for example. Kristen, a mother of 3, was looking to find a "special dress" for an upcoming charity event. She looked all around town bringing her kids on the dress hunt. Everyone could just feel it was a special occasion! Then after the event her youngest son, Owen age 5, asked how the Jones who held the event made their money? Did they win the lottery? Kristen was amazed. She never mentioned money once but her son was actively trying to put the money puzzle together.
All kids are the same. They want happiness. And they want to figure out how money figures into that equation.
Another example is Angie, age 4, who came to see me because of persistent behavioral outbursts (biting others). Her parents were getting divorced and she was "acting out" in preschool. So as we talked it soon became clear that Angie thought her parents were breaking-up over money. "Money no good" she said. Ouch. This is really a money weed.
One last example is Justin, age 10, who attends an inner city public school full of kids from every background. His Dad, a very successful entrepreneur, gives Justin a little extra lunch money daily and tells his son "to share with others" especially if they need it. Now this is a positive and powerful money message: there is more than enough and extra is to be shared.
Parenting for Prosperity
Money beliefs and feelings run deep. Many are even unconscious but still influencing our day-to-day actions and results around money. Bringing our inner money beliefs into the open and deciding which ones to keep, discard and cultivate is important work - not just for you but also for your child.
Take my friend Judy for example. She is now a very successful psychologist with a worldwide practice but before this career, Judy made some unskillful choices. She said, "I heard my parents fight daily about money and as a child promised myself never to do that. Long story short it led me to take my first jobs just for the money which always turned out poorly!"
So like it or not, you are intentionally or unintentionally shaping your child's beliefs and feelings around money. Ponder some of these questions in the privacy of your heart and mind:
- Do I create an overall family atmosphere of abundance or lack?
- Do I encourage my child to "follow their bliss" with the idea they can be paid for their unique skills?
- Do I positively talk about money, ways to make it, save it, earn it and share it with my children?
- Do I encourage my child to say "thank you" and feel grateful no matter what shows up?
- Do I take advantage of "teachable moments" when they arise regarding money?
Sending children signals that they are safe, secure and supported in this world is essential for optimum development. It isn't easy either sometimes. I realize that more and more parents are faced with foreclosure, financial crises, joblessness and situations unexpected.
With that said, these hard economic times will pass but whatever messages you send to your child - those are likely to have a lasting impact.
The Money Puzzle
Every kid looks to their parents and key adults for messages on how to make sense of their inner and outer world. Money is a key piece of that puzzle. It is one that we can no longer ignore or pretend isn't on the table. Children pick up the verbal and non-verbal cues being sent to them about money and it's relation to one's happiness.
Sending a child intentional messages about how money is a positive means for creative exchange and can help nurture oneself and others encourages a child's healthy development. Like Norman Vincent Peale stated, empty pockets never held anyone back. Only empty heads and empty hearts can do that.
By Maureen Healy © 2009
Growing Happy Kids, www.growinghappykids.com
All rights reserved. Permission must be granted directly by the author for reprinting, or use in any format.
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