Help a Mother Out

In this Help a Mother Out, a Baristaville mom is having a difficult time explaining money, or the lack of it, to her son. In this feature, we ask you, our readers and other moms and dads, to help out with your best advice in comments:

Dear Barista Kids,

My five-year-old is starting to realize the economic differences between families. When he wants new things we often discuss that we are saving for Disney World. Lately he has been asking why we can’t join the Glen Ridge Country Club. I was very point blank and explained that it was just too expensive for us. I have always been straightforward about what we can and can’t do.

Still, yesterday he asked me how come his friend could go to Disney World AND also be a member of the Country Club.

It’s just hard for him to understand that he can’t just go swimming where his good friends go. Trust me he is not lacking for fun activities!

How do I effectively explain it to him?


Economically-challenged in Glen Ridge

Post your advice to Economically-challenged in Glen Ridge in comments and Help a Mother Out.

(Excerpt Photo: Flickr/LiminalMike)

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  1. Good one, unfortunately. It is hard for a child to hear no, especially when it means they will be left out of something their peers have. No one likes being left out. Tell that to them, make sure they know you understand that part.

    Also, maybe exlain that it is not a matter of non wantting to do it. Explain that you (and your partner if it applies) work very hard to be able to afford what you can, and perhpas review that stuff. Emphathize with how it must feel to be left out so they know you understand their point of view. Tell them you love them and that you know they love you too.

  2. When you didn’t eat your food, your parents would remind you that there are starving children “in Africa.”

    This has worked well with the little prof: letting him know (and SEE) that some folks have more than others, and some have nothing. Perhaps it was mrs. prof reading the Little House stories to him, but he understands- as best an 8-year-old who lives in a Palatial Mansion in UPPER Montclair can- that we are fortunate to have what we have.

    That you live the beautiful, safe and loving community of Glen Ridge should be enough to- even at 5- to let him know that despite no membership, you still have a lot. Also, where’d he get this desire to be a member? Is someone at home suggesting this? Remind him that, as Groucho said, “I don’t want to belong to any club that will have me as a member”!

    So POP open the fire hydrant and get wet!!!!

    (btw, went to Disney earlier this month, it was GREAT!!)

  3. I think your original answer was the best one. “It is too expensive for us.” Maybe choosing to replace expensive with more descriptive language would help since “expensive” is a relative term: It costs too much money right now. Mommy doesn’t have enough money for both.

    Your first answer to him was matter-of-fact and not laced with embarrassment or regret (or so it seemed). Well done! You effectively communicated that there is no shame in not having as much cash as the next guy; it’s just a fact. Give him some time to let it sink in. It takes adults years to figure out how to live within their means – if they ever do figure it out. Give him a few weeks at least.

    I like what scottie said too about explaining that you work hard for your money (Donna Summer just jumped into my ear), and you are choosing to spend it differently.

  4. The Star-Ledger had a great article on children and finances yesterday, 5-3-11.

    Try using simpler language, such as “This costs $1,000. We don’t have it.”

    Write or call your town, and the pool, to see if they will give you a deep discount on the pool.

    Good luck!

  5. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a public pool in this area that all kids could go to together?

  6. Dear ECIGR,

    I was about 12 years old when I asked my mother for ‘Converse’ basketball sneakers. She said “No.” and when I asked her again, she just gave me the ‘look’. I didn’t know it at the time, but we couldn’t afford non-essential items. The fact that she said “No” was more than enough reason to let it go.

    I think today’s parents are too concerned with being ‘liked’ by their kids. This kind of thinking is not in a child’s best interest. It’s better to be respected and maybe even ‘feared’ a little. I loved my mother very much even when I didn’t get what I wanted or even a satisfactory explanation. I knew she was not someone to trifle with and that made me respect and honor her.

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