Today as I started doing schoolwork with my 5 year old, I gave him the task of putting the correct date on the top of our magnetic calendar while I went to get an item to start our work. I was gone for about 30 seconds, and as I left I admonished him not to chew or break the pieces. When I returned I found that he had bent the “Today” magnet, almost breaking it in half completely. The only thing holding it together is the thin white layer on which the word was printed. After giving him a piece of my mind, I gave him a lecture on the value of money which I think hit the intended target.
We, like most families, struggle to keep the family budget “in the black.” Similar to other homeschooling mothers, I need to limit the hours I work outside the home. I do have an internet business as well, but we have a very tight budget. I have noticed that my boys are very careless, breaking toys and other items around the house. So after my husband and I had a discussion about upcoming expenses such as filling the oil tank, I was not happy to see the piece from our brand new magnetic calendar broken. I explained to my son that I had just spent hard-earned money on the new calendar and it is designed to be used for years, but I felt that he was not hearing me. So this is how I explained the concept of money to him:
I told Jamie that his Daddy works very hard every day to earn enough to buy us the things we need. I told him that I work too, and if we don’t have enough money I won’t be able to spend as much time with him. He heard about how Mommy and Daddy worry about not having enough money if something big breaks. I told him that our furnace broke several years ago and we had to spend thousands of dollars to replace it. I named many of the things that parents need money for: payments on the house, electricity, oil for heat and hot water, food, toys, school supplies, clothes, and more. “Everything you see in this house cost money to buy.” I told Jamie that when he breaks things or is careless, it makes me feel that he does not value how hard Mommy and Daddy work to pay for them. I asked him “Do you want Mommy to have to work more hours and not be able to be home with you as much?” He agreed that he would rather have Mommy at home more. He was very sad about the calendar piece being broken but I told him he would just have to use it the way it is. Perhaps each day, the broken piece can be a reminder of our discussion. I plan to keep reinforcing our conversation by pointing out when he is wasteful or careless.
I would welcome helpful comments from other parents on how you deal with this issue in your family.
I recently found this page on teaching children the value of money, some more good ideas. http://www.raisingsmallsouls.com/teaching-children-about-money/