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We live in a very affluent community yet we are not that wealthy at all. My daughter often seems frustrated that her friends are able to do some things and buy some things that we cannot afford. Although I understand her frustration, how can I make her understand our situation and keep her grounded? She is 8 years old.


Julie Fisher Replied: As a coach I find the best answers come from within, so I begin with asking you this: Knowing your daughter and what she values, and knowing you and how you display your own values, what might help your 8-year-old understand that money is not always readily available? Also, I ask you this: Are there strategies you could employ now to help your daughter begin to earn some money for herself? If so, what might those be? And if she earns her own money, then might you allow her to use some of that to do OR to buy some of the things her more affluent friends are doing or buying? I understand that this age is challenging with regards to money and it's value, but I do know from raising 6 kids who are 10 or older, that NOW, at 8-years-old, is precisely the right time to begin teaching these lessons of real value. Waiting until she is 14-years-old would be a mistake — as peer pressure gets stronger, not weaker into the middle and high school years. Children respond best to love, so share as much love as you can while teaching her that life is not ALL about money. Teaching good money skills and values now will make for an amazing person later. Watch and see!!! You're doing the right thing at precisely the right time in her life! Love to you! Coach Julie
Posted On 2007-03-11 13:02:05
Neale Godfrey Replied: You need to tell her that the amount of money you have doesn't make you a better person. There will always people who are richer and people who are poorer. You are lucky to have a house and food, there are a lot of people who do not have all that. You have made choices to use your money in various ways, explain that to your daughter, and other people have made different choices. Do not apologize for your choices. It may get down to, "My house, my choice".
Posted On 2007-03-09 14:59:08
Beverly Willett Replied: It's not easy trying to help your daughter understand your family's situation, as well as the more important things in life, while balancing her need to be accepted by and comfortable with her peers. And our materialistic society (which at times seems off the charts in that direction) perpetuates the myth that wealth and happiness go hand in hand, bombarding us and our children with these false messages. So long as you stay grounded and keep bringing up your daughter to understand the important things in life, eventually everything should turn okay despite the rough spots along the way. We can't shield our children from all of life's hurts, nor would we be helping them become honorable, grounded adults if we did so. Sometimes there are things they just have to learn for themselves, but things we can do to make the truth more palatable. Now, as for practicalities. Think about orchestrating a social situation in your home that will allow your daughter to feel included and at the same time not buy into the materiality you can't afford. Invite the other girls over occasionally for an ice cream sundae party, let them take over your kitchen (with your supervision) and whip up batches of cookies. These ideas are inexpensive but create an atmosphere of fun. While kids in our society are into the latest gadgets and clothes, at bottom they're still kids and, if you check, the times when they have the most fun they're engaged in the least expensive (often most mundane) activities -- playing dress-up, having a lemonade stand, baking cookies, etc. Hopefully in this way your daughter will begin to see that fun and happiness aren't tied to who has what and how much. Another thought. Are you friendly with any of the other mothers or, if not, can you identify the most approachable of the moms? If so, give her a call. Tell her that your daughter really appreciates her daughter's friendship and that of the other girls in the group, but the reality is your family's financial situation makes it difficult for your daughter to always participate. There's no shame in admitting the reality of your life. Ask her how she feels about helping you (and perhaps the other moms) coordinate a few inexpensive outings or two -- if you investigate and put your thinking cap on, you'll be amazed at how many free or nearly free activities you can find in your community or come up with. Yes, this takes time and effort, and sometimes it feels like a drag when you're tired and wishing life could be easier. I've been there, I know. So don't be hard on yourself for having these thoughts. You'll feel better when you get frustration off your chest and even better once you come up with a plan that's bound to help ease your own daughter's frustration, even though it won't be a cure-all. I wish you all the best.
Posted On 2007-02-13 13:10:11
Brenda Bercun Replied: Validating her feelings is always a good approach to start with, this way your daughter feels heard. It is difficult living amongst others whose life style does not reflect your own. It is not fun feeling like you can't have what your friends have or do what your friends can do whether it is because of money or other reasons. After validating your child's frustration and you sense her ability to hear you, I would explore with her which of the things her friends have or do that are most important to her. Is it a toy, an outing, a vacation, the clothes that they wear? What makes these things special? What would her life be like if she had these things? If there is a very special item she wants that is within reason, talk to her about the cost, how she can earn some money by doing extra things for you and teach her how to save up for it. This is a powerful life lesson on money and value. I think it is wonderful to celebrate other's financial successes. We want to teach our children that money is good. It's OK for people to have more money than we do. Sometimes it works out to our advantage. Some people have the opportunity share in the affluence of their friends by being a part of their lives, visiting their beautiful homes, playing with their toys, or being invited to their vacation homes. But the bottom line is that a true friendship is not about money, but about having fun, being respectful, sharing and caring. When your daughter has friends come over to your house, maybe she doesn't have all the fancy stuff, but I bet there are other things that are special. Organize a special art project, baking, cooking, building, making forts, or going on nature hunts. Children love creativity more than "things". Help her to create and share in the specialness of your family and your home. It is not always what is in your home, but it is more about what goes on in your home. When my kids were growing up at times they would ask, "Are we rich?" and I would say, "You betcha, because there isn't enough money in the world that could buy the love and blessings that we have in our family and our home."
Posted On 2007-02-13 12:55:33
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