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Why Telling Your Kids You Can't Afford Something May Make Them More Likely To Deal With Poverty In Adulthood

Photo: wong yu liang / Shutterstock
parents teaching daughter about money

Talking about money is often regarded as a taboo subject that we should never bring attention to, especially between parents and their children. On Instagram, a metaphysical life coach named Aaron shared a video from popular YouTuber SheRa Seven who encouraged parents to stop admitting to their children that they don't have money.

Telling your kids you can't afford something may make them more likely to deal with poverty in adulthood.

SheRa Seven, whose real name is Leticia Padua, issued a public service announcement to parents who are routinely brutally honest with their children about the financial situation of their family. 

"If you can't afford something don't ever tell your children you can't afford it. That's putting lack in their mind, don't speak poverty mind around your children," Padua advised. "Don't ever keep saying, 'I can't afford that,' [or] 'This is too expensive.' Say something else."

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In place of telling kids they can't afford this toy or that vacation, parents should use language that won't make their children feel as if they are lacking due to their parents' financial situation.

"When you put your lack onto someone else it turns into their lack. That's how poverty mind gets passed down," Padua explained.

Instead, she recommended that parents make deals with their kids, and tell them that if they really want something, they need to work hard and prove that they really want it. If they work hard enough, then as their parents, they'll make sure to get it for them. Padua claimed that by the time the child finishes the assigned task, their parents should have either found the money to buy what they promised their child or figured out a way to get it for them.

Beyond parenting, Padua explained that individuals should never let someone know when they don't have money for certain things.

"You should never tell people you're broke, you should never tell people you can't afford something, never," she insisted. "Find a different way to say it."



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Most people believe that it's a parent's job to talk to their kids about money.

According to a survey conducted by Momentive, 83 percent of U.S. adults said parents are the most responsible for educating their children on the topic of money. At the same time, only 15 percent of parents said they spoke with their children more than once a week about household finances, 13 percent said once a week and 16 percent said once a month. Some 24 percent talk to their children less often and 31 percent never do.

The survey found that parents who earn less money were more likely to have those money conversations once a week or more. While it's encouraged to be transparent with your child about money, where does the line fall to make sure you aren't confiding too much in your children?

Why Telling Your Kids You Can't Afford Something May Make Them More Likely To Deal With Poverty In AdulthoodPhoto: fizkes / Shutterstock

As someone who grew up in a fairly open household where topics such as money were freely spoken about, those conversations were never too in-depth. It was simple language, such as my mother saying she didn't have enough money this week for whatever material item I was asking for, but when she got paid the following week, she'd buy it for me. Of course, my family was never in poverty or anywhere near it, and those money conversations obviously look different for families that may be struggling to make ends meet and living paycheck-to-paycheck.

In an interview with NPR, financial expert Jen Hemphill explained that being transparent with your kids about money choices can set them up for better success by helping them understand the power money can hold and providing opportunities to learn from your mistakes together. Parents don't need to get into the nitty gritty of their financials with their children, especially if they are too young to understand, but just simply starting an honest conversation and answering any questions they have can do wonders on beginning those lessons of financial literacy.

"The sheer act of talking about it brings confidence," said Hemphill. She stressed that there's no need to worry if your financial life feels a bit all over the place or if you didn't practice good money habits with your kids from the get-go. "It's never too late. A lot of grown-ups never talked to their parents about money, right?"

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Nia Tipton is a Chicago-based entertainment, news, and lifestyle writer whose work delves into modern-day issues and experiences.