Papa Talk – Make Them Understand Money Matters [analysis]

“As songwriters Buddy DeSylva, Lew Brown, and Ray Henderson once said, the best things in life may be free – but most things cost money,” reads a line from ‘Teaching Basic Money Concepts to Children’, an article on

“Buying toys and candy, going to the movies, and renting videos all cost money… The two main skills that children need to know when it comes to money – and the earlier, the better – is being able to identify money and being able to tender money and make change,” the article goes on.

Are these rather familiar words for you? I bet they are, but I will also bet on the likelihood that they sound like Chinese (or Greek) to your little child. Your child probably believes that you have unlimited capacity to provide himher with almost whatever they wish for.

And should you at any point raise the issue of money not being enough, they will stare at you with absolute incomprehension. Many will believe you are just being mean.

So, how do you even attempt to make them understand? Our four-year-old son, Saqeeb, has some limited understanding on the use of money. His longstanding goal has been to collect and own as many toys – especially vehicles – as possible. He is aware that one can’t just walk into a toy shop, pick whatever they desire and simply walk out.

Somebody has to reach into their wallet or handbag, fish out some money, give it to somebody in the shop, and then they will be allowed to take the toy. Saqeeb is, therefore, always making procurement proposals, with the underlying appreciation that he can’t turn anything on his wish list into reality on his own.

He knows that he doesn’t have any money most of the time. Of course most of his proposals are usually met with the response, “I don’t have any money for that right now,” but he is not one to easily give up.

He will want to know why, and if there is some money at all, what it is going to be used for. He even sometimes holds the belief that his dad’s wallet is useless because it never ever seems to have enough money, and for that matter, he should get a new one!

He will bug me to just go to the cubicle at the shopping mall, where he has often gone with me, and push the buttons in the wall and money will just pop out. At such times, I have to labour to explain that one has to have money that is kept for them there in the first place.

If there is no money for one, it won’t matter how much they push the buttons, no money will come out. Rather confusing for him, but he is slowly grasping some of the basic concepts.

He knows, for example, that because both his mum and dad work, they get paid for it, and it is this money that brings the food, water, electricity and pays his teachers at school.

Saqeeb has already made one promise to himself, and to all who care to listen: he will get a job one day, have lots of money and buy all the cars in the world!

Are you a father? What have you learnt or discovered about your youngsters and parenting? Share joys, trials, challenges, successes. Send them in 500 words to

Source : The Observer