Dinner table money lessons
My family had a once-in-a-year teachable money moment the other night.
My kids always feel like they’re the last to get tech gadgets. We skipped the whole Game Boy phase, nixed the Xbox, and don’t allow texting at the table ever. I’m not against technology. I just think that for my kids, it would be a replacement for other activities that I’d prefer they do, like reading.
Our low-key approach came to mind recently after I heard a friend’s shocking money story. She sent her 13-year-old son to sleepaway camp, where another boy showed up with more pocket money for one month than most people spend on rent. My friend thinks it was the parents’ way of ensuring that their child made friends. After all, the kid could buy endless snacks for his buddies at the canteen and large items for his friends at the camp visit to the mall.
I had never considered this angle before. I knew people liked to throw money at problems and overindulge their children because it’s easier than saying no. But I never thought that money could be used as a device to buy your children popularity. And then I suddenly felt sorry for the kid—and the parents. How insecure they must be in his ability to make friends the old-fashioned way, by being nice, smart, funny, fun—in other words, by just being themselves.
When I expressed this sentiment to my own children at dinner, I thought aloud about my own views. By cutting down on the “stuff” to lure others, I suppose I have always figured that they would be able to make friends based on who they were and not what they had. When I looked at my kids, I could tell that they really heard me. And while I often mess up when it comes to parenting, this was one dinner where I knew I did okay.