What do we tell the children?

Paul Hoppe

I was very taken by this strip in the Styles section of the NYTimes Megan at the Mall.

It was a wonderful captured moment about peer pressure, teen angst, social cruelty and about saving face. And the great desire not to say, do or wear anything foolish plus the general inability of parents to stop using common sense. I

t’s a great little strip. But the article was all about introducing teenagers to the concept of thrift and frugality and the difficulties of saying “no” to requests.

Young people, including quite young children, are all too aware of the financial crisis going on around us. What they actually need is the reassurance and reality that comes with information and the bigger picture.

And while parents may have to bite that “saying no” bullet, this is an opportunity to also talk about how families and groups and nations get through crises. Hard times do not have to mean end times.

The past tells us that thrift, frugality, loyalty and finding common cause can be empowering. That common sacrifice where we can all do “our bit” and that sense of together – we can pull through.

Children often take what they hear quite literally so some of the alarming language hyperbole (the abyss) that has been filling the airwaves may be a cause of anxiety. And as always, they take their cues from those they love.

NPR had a useful segment on this topic on Friday when Janet Bodnar, deputy editor of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine and author of Raising Money Smart Kids says it’s important to be honest about the situation but not overload children with information.

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