Talking About Kids and Money

The-Opposite-of-Spoiled

Tonight we held a parent discussion circle at OUUC based on the book The Opposite of Spoiled. The reason for the selection of this book was based on our current Middle School program, which will start a unit on Money this coming Sunday. However, this book and the topic of kids and money are appropriate and useful no matter the current age of your children.

If you’d like to reflect on the questions yourself, here’s our discussion guide:

Parent Discussion about Kids and Money

 

  1. Opening

Play “Money” by Pink Floyd

 

  1. Introductions

 

  1. Opening Reading from The Opposite of Spoiled by Ron Lieber (page 12):

 

Money is central, but it is also a teaching tool that uses the value of a dollar to instill in our children the values we want them to embrace. These traits – curiosity, patience, thrift, modesty, generosity, perseverance, and perspective – don’t belong to one religion, region, or race. A few of our kids are already set for life financially, but most of them have no clue how much money they’ll have when they grow up. Their financial status is fluid but their financial values should not be.

 

  1. Discussion

 

  1. What financial values do we hope our children will have? Now? As adults?
  2. Thinking back on your own childhood, what “money messages” did you receive? Are these the same messages you want your children to get?
  3. How open are you to talking about money honestly with your kids? Is it time to explain your own finances and earnings to your kids? How is money one of “the talks”? (Like sex, drugs, etc)?
  4. What is challenging or hard about money for you? Are there ways that you struggle with money, and is it time to make a new relationship for yourself with money? How would that change your child’s future relationship with money?
  5. On page 24 of The Opposite of Spoiled the author shares that there is a gender disparity in allowance and financial education. Do you think we treat boys and girls differently with regard to money? Is there a gender disparity or gender stereotype in how you yourself handle financials in your life?
  6. The allowance debate: why give an allowance? What is the goal of an allowance? What lessons can it teach? Why not give an allowance? Pay for chores? Other options?
  7. What habits of saving do you hope your child will have? Are you modeling those habits yourself? How can we promote saving for kids?
  8. Lieber talks about a line between Want and Need and setting a standard $ amount for Needs before they cross into Wants. How do you separate Wants and Needs for your kids?
  9. Consumer Decisions: pages 74-75 introduce the ideas of the Fun per Dollar Ratio and the Most Good/Least Harm Rule. How are we teaching our kids to make consumer decisions? What values do we hope they will have as consumers?
  10. How do you model generosity and giving for your kids? What could make your own generosity more visible and memorable for your kids?
  11. How can kids themselves practice generosity? Do you like the “giving jar” method? What other options are there?
  12. What about kids and work? How much work should kids do? How can kids earn money for themselves? Has there been a cultural shift in how much we expect children and teens to work and be useful?

 

Closing Words: (from page 208)

 

We haven’t got very long, and the years go by so quickly. Still, we have these conversations because they endure. They’re an essential part of making successful adults – and contented ones too.

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An Accessibility Audit

The theme this month is Courage, and in our religious education classes we are exploring many different kinds of courage. This last Sunday our example of courage was Christopher Reeve, a UU, a “Super Man”, and advocate for disability awareness and medical research.

The kids also had the chance to do an accessibility audit on our building. We borrowed a wheelchair from the hospitality team (it’s normally kept available in the coat closet if needed here at the congregation) and the kids used it to try and get around in the church building.

They noted how hard it was to open doors. They realized that the grass and the wood chips in the play area are not good for wheels. They found it hard to navigate through the crowded coffee hour crowd, and difficult with a narrow aisle in the worship sanctuary.

We’ll pass the notes from their audit on to congregational leadership, but even more importantly these kids all learned a little bit about empathy and that super heroes come in all different shapes, sizes, and abilities.

The Light of Our Heritage

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When the children are invited to leave the worship service for a religious education class on Sunday mornings (if they wish, they are also welcome to stay in the worship service), I invite the children forward to carry a candle: “Carrying the light of our heritage into the classroom”.

It’s an interesting phrase, one which I inherit from what was in practice here before I became your Director of Religious Education. But what does it mean? Why this phrase, and not another?

In this context, the light is symbolizing a connection between, on the one hand, the tradition of Unitarian Universalism, the long history of those who have come before, and the congregation of elders and on the other hand our children and youth, and the future of this faith movement.

At a recent workshop for our Coming of Age program I started the youth off with some exploration of UU history and the history of this congregation, and then I asked “why does this matter to you? Why do we care about history?”

The answer from most of the youth was that it’s probably easier to decide where you want to go and what you believe if you know where you are coming from and what has come before you.

That is exactly why I think it’s important for our children to carry the light of our heritage into their classes – because in our classes we are exploring, learning, growing, and are even shaping the future of our own religious understandings and of Unitarian Universalism. But we are not creating all of this from nothing. There is a foundation that was built already, by all those who came before and asked questions and made meaning and formed community, and now here we stand on this foundation, carrying it forward into the future.

May we carry the light of our heritage, and by knowing what has come before, may we be ever more able to walk forward as part of a vital, living, tradition.