I think all of us are rethinking how we spend money these days.
It makes us really ask ourselves what's important, how to be creative with what we have and, as a result, what our relationship to money is. I think about what kind of model we are giving our children. What messages are we sending to kids about what's important and what has value and meaning in our lives?
Children learn from adults modeling all around them. They see, hear, feel and sense what is going on, and absorb this into their beings, sometimes whether we want them to or not. I grew up with the scarcity model of money. There was never enough. This was my legacy, and I work very hard to change it to one of abundance and appreciation.
What if we all assumed sufficiency, instead of scarcity, during these times? What if generosity and collaboration were the human conditions now? What would this model be for our children, who will be paying for the financial mistakes we're making now? The legacy they need from us is not money itself, but a way of being that enables them to be creative, resilient and fully expressed in the world with whatever money or other resources flow through their lives, such as sharing, compassion for others, the feeling of enough - instead of the commercial and cultural hunger for more stuff and more money.
Kids thrive in love and acceptance and give us the gifts of their joy, playfulness and natural sense of possibility. How do we guide them to have an authentic relationship with money, when we are wondering where the next paycheck is coming from, and the culture drives us to want and to buy things we don't need? Some suggestions:b Ask out loud "do we really need this?" when shopping with your kids. Listen to what they say, as a guide for what you need to present to them.
b Go out of your way to be generous in front of your kids.
b Talk abut how lucky and thankful you are for this and that as you go through your day with kids.
b Go through the process of saving some money with kids. Explain how what you do now with money may affect your lives later.
b Help your child understand that every product we use and throw away doesn't disappear when the garbage gets picked up.
b Introduce your kids to books and other materials that reinforce these messages.
The legacy we create begins at home and in the family. Conscious actions of what we talk about, what we buy, what we eat and what we surround ourselves with will plant the little seeds of having enough, sufficiency and gratitude.
These seeds can grow to connections of deep truths and values for a future of satisfaction and authenticity, in the face of a driving mythology of scarcity and lack. Let's show our children how money and what we do with it can affirm life during these difficult times.
Martha McClellan has been an early childhood educator, director and administrator for 32 years. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.