Would you prefer to talk with your teenager about sex or money?
Who is Kim Kardashian and what is she teaching my kids about sex, money and fancy handbags?
So have you had ‘the talk’ with your teenagers yet?
In this article
Parents all ask me the same question
After 20+ years working as a financial adviser you get to see patterns in people's actions and more importantly, their questions.
- The number one question I get asked by parents of all ages is ‘How can I help my kids get ahead in life?’
That’s a complex question but as you listen, you hear their hearts motivation when they go on to say, ‘…I know how hard it’s been for me and my parents and I don’t want my kids to make the same mistakes I did…”
This is the question that keeps them up at night, this is what keeps me up at night too. Well the answer starts with my question, ‘How often do you talk with your children about money?’
At this point of the discussion, most people pause uncomfortably, look away, blush and wring their hands a little.
Yes I went there; I said it: the money talk
Clearly as many people would prefer death before public speaking, many parents would rather have the safe-sex conversation with their teenager, rather than having the money talk.
Why do so many people find talking about money more confronting than talking about sex? Is it because we don’t want to answer the inevitable questions like ‘So how much money do you make? Why don’t you make more … why don’t you give me more?’ etc. (Oh isn’t that a can of worms).
Is it that we simply don’t have a conversational framework for how to chat comfortably about our fiscal habits and fancies?
What we think is not valued until we do
Why is it so hard? *Sigh*
Well the quick answer is everything we know, we’ve learnt somewhere. Initially we adopt the outlook of our parents and their beliefs about the role of money in our lives.
Over time we get the chance to make up our own mind about such key issues but most people forget to do this until they run into a foundational problem when their business outlook conflicts with their life outlook.
Too many people are operating their lives, their business (and even their relationships) based upon either outdated or just plain unstable beliefs about the role money plays in their lives.
So how do we start the money talk with our teenagers?
Think about what money means to you. If your quick to answer ‘freedom’ go back and think some more about it just to be sure.
Identify what money messages you recall hearing from your parents? If you feel the need to adopt the foetal position at this point, you’ve probably hit upon something worth sorting out.
Decide that educating your children about money is your responsibility. Remember when chatting with teenagers about money, they have a natural tendency to internalise responsibility for all problems so only talk about how money works, how value is exchanged and how you work with it.
The one question that Kim Kardashian cannot answer
Teenagers zealously believe you can’t compare the value of a designer Kardashian handbag to a set of 22” alloy mag wheels for a car, so don’t try.
A better way to help compare apples with oranges, handbags and mag wheels, is to break down the value of our purchases into a common denominator with this question;
- "How many hours did you have to work, to afford that?"
From here there will be questions about pay rates, education and skills, employment verses self-employment. Hopefully it will then lead to conversations about appreciation and thoughtfulness and sacrifices made so that others may benefit.
In fact, the money talk is a relaxed way of encouraging ongoing discussion about money and what’s important.
The last word
So, handbags or 22 inch mag wheels — do you know how many hours you had to work, to afford that?