A Parent’s Obligation to Teach Children about Money - a Confession of a Financial Author

Written by Louis Barajas

What is a parent’s obligation to teach their children how to make and use money to live a better life? Let me clarify.  I’m not just talking about teaching your child(ren) how to budget or save the first 10 percent of their allowance or paycheck. Budgeting and savings are important, but I’m talking about something much bigger, something that is going to affect their lives forever. Money is so woven into the fabric we call life that we rarely think about how it affects our selection of a life partner, our career choice, our emotional and physical health, the neighborhood we live in, the education we get, or just our overall happiness.

I remember when I would go out with my friends as a teen, my dad would say to me, “do you have any money?” Sometimes I would say no, and that I didn’t need any. My dad would always remind me and say, “What if you get thirsty and want to buy a soda, here take a couple of bucks.” The lesson he taught me was that you never know when you will need money, so you better have some, just in case. Looking back, I don’t ever remember having a conversation with my parents about money. They never told me that money or the lack of it would eventually influence my choice of a public college, the used Toyota Corolla I drove for years, the friends I hung out with, the sports I played, my first home I bought in a gang infested neighborhood, or the worry and lack of sleep I would have when I didn’t have enough money to pay my bills. I think you get the point.

What I learned about money from my parents was more from observation than from conversation.  Besides never having the “money talk,” I also never had the “sex talk” either. Sex and money were big taboos in my house and in the homes of many of my friends growing up. Maybe my parents assumed that my teachers would teach me how to make and use money wisely. Maybe I was like the typical teenager who just didn’t want to hear any lecture from their parents. Maybe my parents didn’t really know any better.

Here is where I must CONFESS. I can honestly tell you that until recently, I had not had that “money” talk with my children either. I felt so guilty that I almost confessed to a priest. I can’t plead ignorance about the lack of money know how. What has come out of all the guilt is an all day interactive, impactful, and inspiring workshop that I hope will not only transform the lives of my children, but someday the lives of my grandchildren.

The lessons I created go beyond the common financial literacy tips found in most money classes or informational literature. I wanted my children to learn about financial principals that would affect their life decisions to help them create not just more money, but more happiness. I call the workshop – The ABC’s of W.E.A.L.T.H. The lessons include:  Attitudes, Beliefs, and Confidence about money as well as their Worth, Education, Attraction, Team, and Humility toward life.

So, I ask the question one more time – Is it your obligation to teach your children about money? Or is it the school’s responsibility to teach them? Or do you leave it to chance that they learn about money on their own? Unfortunately, for many people, learning about money on their own will be some of the most painful and expensive lessons they will ever experience.


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