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Should you tell your children if you are poor?

  • Yes, they deserve to know.

    Votes: 10 20.4%
  • No, it will harm their feeling of self worth.

    Votes: 39 79.6%
  • Other

    Votes: 0 0.0%
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Discussion Starter #1
<p>The subject line says it all. My middle child is constantly asking to do all manner of school crap that costs money-walk runs, santa pictures, blah blah blah...and you cant drive past a store without her asking to stop for a treat a snack a doll a cd a 'fill in the blank'...but we are the very model of working poor-we get food stamps even with a full time job, we struggle with the monthly bills, and I have to be very creative each month for the things we do buy (thrift stores, hand me downs, making our own laundry soap, etc) The kids are all on the free lunch plan at school, but they really don't have a clue about that...personally as a family we like to be minimalist, I prefer we make things as opposed to buying them (we would do it even if we had more money-but it definitely is partially motivated by lack of money)</p>
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<p>but we have a lot of 'things' that were gifts, like ipods and a nintendo wii, and lots of computers (my husband frankensteins together good machines with the stuff that people throw away) So I'm sure to them, it might look like we are not 'poor' but as parents, we know how tight it is.</p>
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<p>I don't want them to stigmatize them, but I am so tired of the constant asking for 'things' and stuff to do that costs money. </p>
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<p>Should you/do you tell your kids if you are poor?</p>
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<p>Well I vote other because I don't think telling them you are poor will be that helpful, but not because it will harm their self worth.  More because I don't thin most kids know what poor means; not surprising since its different for every family.</p>
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<p>I think for the store a more healthy focus would be that materialism is not a value you desire for your family.  For experiences and pictures perhaps a long term plan is best.  If you know its coming then you and your daughter can plan how its going to be paid for...if at all.  Is there something she can do in the comunity to earn money for the stuff she wants to do?  I think its important to tell her in advance what you cannot/will not pay for, but give her the option of trying to figure out another way.  It doesn't mean you're telling her you're poor, but letting her know what the financial perameters are.</p>
 

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Discussion Starter #3
<p>I will add that I grew up very poor and very aware of it-and I know it has colored my judgement in this matter-though in my case my mother would foolishly and lavishly spend money on things for herself and make us kids go without things and I try to buy what we need and make allowances for the girls needs/wants without going overboard.</p>
 

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I make no secret of the fact we have no money. I tell them I am sorry but I dont have any money when they ask for something at the store. I grew up poor and knew it and it didnt affect my self worth in any shape or form.<br><br>
ETA: I have never used the word poor but I have told them we are broke or mommy has no money.
 

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<p>I grew up without much money and knew it.  I do not think it is something you can hide.</p>
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<p>That being said, I do not think you should announce your poverty to your kids.  What I would try to get across to them is:</p>
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<p>a) we have a limited budget and if you want to do xyz you cannot spend money on abc.  Emphasize budgeting and priorities.  </p>
<p>b)  not be consumeristic for whatever reasons you have: environmental, not inviting clutter into your house, etc </p>
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<p>I voted other.  I do not think they deserve to know (why?) nor do I think knowing will harm their self worth.  I would not announce to children that we/they are poor as I prefer to reframe it as lack of money/a temporary state rather than "we are poor".  It is not a label I want them to take on.  In my own family of origin, people  have seen "poverty" as an excuse for not going after dreams or not learning how to budget to get what you want.  This is not something I want for my children.</p>
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<p>In the name of disclosure...I am not poor and haven't been for a decade or so.  Some people may think I am poor - but that is their definition and not mine.      </p>
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<p>Other. Poor is relative. Saying that you can't afford something is fine, saying "You can't always get what you want" is fine, saying "we are poor" can lead to a whole other set of problems when another child who's parents have another definition of poor comes along and says "well I'm poor too, and my parents could get that for me". Really, I have had someone try and explain why a family annual income of less than $120,000 was poor, while I'm left wondering how $119,000 is in anyway 'poor'. Given that DH and I make less than that and we don't consider ourselves poor.</p>
 

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<p>I grew up knowing we were poor and it did effect my self-worth as a kid and into adulthood.  I like the suggestion from Chamomile Girl.  Why label yourselves unnecessarily?  Yes, you get FS and free school lunch, but poor, is really a state of mind, imho.  I also know what it's like to be poor as a parent.  I know it is not fun at all when you are wondering how to make the money last so that everyone gets food all month long.  <img alt="hug2.gif" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/hug2.gif"></p>
 

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<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>inkedmamajama</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1284856/should-you-tell-your-children-you-are-poor#post_16108744"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a><br><br><p>I will add that I grew up very poor and very aware of it-and I know it has colored my judgement in this matter-though in my case my mother would foolishly and lavishly spend money on things for herself and make us kids go without things and I try to buy what we need and make allowances for the girls needs/wants without going overboard.</p>
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<br><br><p>I have to agree to this.</p>
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<p>My parents often claimed poverty (which we were) yet they paid for their pack- a -day each cigarette habit.  </p>
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<p>If you ask kids to give up stuff in the name of poverty, as a parent you need to be prepared to do the same.</p>
 

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<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>MusicianDad</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1284856/should-you-tell-your-children-you-are-poor#post_16108780"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a><br><br><p>Other. Poor is relative. Saying that you can't afford something is fine, saying "You can't always get what you want" is fine, saying "we are poor" can lead to a whole other set of problems when another child who's parents have another definition of poor comes along and says "well I'm poor too, and my parents could get that for me". Really, I have had someone try and explain why a family annual income of less than $120,000 was poor, while I'm left wondering how $119,000 is in anyway 'poor'. Given that DH and I make less than that and we don't consider ourselves poor.</p>
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<p><br>
Sort of.  There is absolute poverty and there is relative poverty.  Absolute poverty equals not being able to meet necessitties (food, shelter).  Relative is relative. </p>
 

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<p>I voted yes, but I wouldn't necessarily use the word "poor."  I would just make it clear that there are lot of things you can't afford, and if your reason for not buying/doing a particular thing is that you can't afford it, I wouldn't hesitate to say so.  My kids know there are a lot of things we can't afford, and that we don't have that much money compared to a lot of people.  I don't see any point in hiding that from them.</p>
 

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<p>I would distinguish between value-based (in an intentional sort of way, not in a monetary sort of way) purchasing and being unable to do so.  In fact, if your children are old enough, you might consider discussing family values and making a book out of them, along with examples of implementation of those values.  e.g., we value X, so this means we do (or don't do) Y.  In this way, it becomes easier to explain later because decisions are made on values, not on availability of cash.</p>
 

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<p>I voted other. I wouldn't say just say "we're  poor" to your kids.</p>
<p>I'd let them know what your budget is without labeling your situation or comparing to other people. </p>
<p>I would tell your kids a rule for when they/you can spend money on treats and activities to cut down on the asking. If you don't like buying into material things you'd probably do that regardless of income. And as a family brainstorm fun free or low cost things you can do.</p>
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<p>We have a tight budget and I have made dd aware that the money we have for extras is limited. I have pulled out the actual bills and shown her on paper exactly how much we need for everything. I think as a member of this family she deserves to be aware of our situation. She is 10 and gets that we can't exceed our income. Sometimes it frustrates her that she can't get what she wants right away but that is our reality. We have also introduced saving up for things she really wants and the idea that she could earn money too.</p>
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<p>I think  your kids deserve to know the financial reality -- but as others have said, I'd phrase it in terms of: We have only so much money, and that money needs to get us all our needs for the month. If we spend $10 on the Santa pictures, we won't have any money to spend on gas for the car.</p>
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<p>Depending on how old they were, I might even involve them in the budgeting for some things. We have $300 for the month for food. How can we shop to make that last? Talk overtly about your choices. Right now, money is a mystery to her. But it's just money. Demystify it and give her power over it.</p>
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<p>If there's any chance of you giving your kids a small allowance every week, I'd do it. There's nothing like the response "Well, you can save up for it" or "Do you have the money to spend on this?" to make the 'gimmies' go away in a hurry.</p>
 

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<p>Kids figure stuff out.  I don't think you need to say, "hey, we're poor" because really, what does that even mean?</p>
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<p>I think, as many PP have said, the solution is involving them and de-mystifying money and budgeting.  I think this is true regardless of your income.  Kids need to know that stuff costs money and that every family has to budget in some way.  I think you teach it in a matter of fact manner - not good or bad, just the way it is. </p>
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<p>I also agree on an allowance - wonderful idea and teaching tool.</p>
 

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<p>I voted other but no I wouldn't tell them. We are in a very simular life situation as you and I don't tell them "We're poor". Why? how would it help. I've found over the years (as the dcs age) they learn where we are financially and when to ask for something they need vs. just want. But as youngers they don't get that yet. My 2 younger dc are bad about it too. But the 9 yr old is getting better. Ex. ds (6) sees something on tv/commercial- "OH we NEED that!" or "I want that!" I try and encourage him to say I like that instead and showing him how something we already have is just as good or the same. He even does this w/adult products- say a swiffer "Mom YOU need that!" Me: "No I already have a mop and I don't have to throw anything away w/mine or buy refills for it". It's gotten better. DD uses I like that now more often than not- and if she really wants it she say for her birthday or the holidays.</p>
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<p>I don't think we should put economic labels in our childrens' mouths. It only teaches them to feel lesser and society already teaches that quite well TY. I rather spin it as teaching them about what we truly need/living less wasteful (even in spending habits) and showing how to make due.</p>
 

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<p>I do not think it should be announced, nor that word used in the house. I grew up with a Mom always saying that we were poor. I didn't know exactly what that meant, except that we didn't have money. And as a young child all the way into High school it was very stressful for me to hear that.  I felt a lot of responsibility for it. Obviously it was not my fault and I should not have had to bear that kind of stress and fear about it. To hear that we were poor and then go clothes shopping for school clothes was really difficult for me. I felt worried the whole time. (that is just one example). In the end, it gave me a lot of issues surrounding money for a very long time; well into adulthood. I think it should be a matter of explaining values and not focusing on lack, but more about budgeting and spending what you have. I have found this and thought it looked very interesting; <a href="http://www.moonjar.com/" target="_blank">http://www.moonjar.com/</a></p>
<p>I plan on getting them for my boys in the next year or two.</p>
 

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<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>MCatLvrMom2A&X</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1284856/should-you-tell-your-children-you-are-poor#post_16108759"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a><br><br>
I make no secret of the fact we have no money. I tell them I am sorry but I dont have any money when they ask for something at the store. I grew up poor and knew it and it didnt affect my self worth in any shape or form.</div>
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<br><br><p>This.  I'm honest if we can't afford something.  We've always been working class, but after dh lost his job at the beginning of the year, we've definitely moved into the "poor" category.  I grew up working class and I was aware of it, but it didn't negatively affect my self-worth.</p>
 

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<div class="quote-container" data-huddler-embed="/community/forum/thread/1284856/should-you-tell-your-children-you-are-poor#post_16108759" data-huddler-embed-placeholder="false"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>MCatLvrMom2A&X</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1284856/should-you-tell-your-children-you-are-poor#post_16108759"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif"></a><br><br>
I make no secret of the fact we have no money. I tell them I am sorry but I dont have any money when they ask for something at the store. I grew up poor and knew it and it didnt affect my self worth in any shape or form.</div>
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This. I have used the word "poor" in the past with my kids but try not to. We aren't "poor" right now but lower middle class-no savings, paycheck to paycheck, but able to pay our bills and such. I have had to explain many times to my kids that we can't afford something-like trips to Kings Island every time we go to see family.
 

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<p>I grew up poor and I never recall it affecting my self-worth either. My parents put a lot of focus on money management skills for me (I got an allowance and I could pay for toys myself by saving it, I had a bank account from a very young age, I knew how much we made per year/cost of the mortgage etc) and I really think that helped me in a lot of ways to know how to manage money when I went to college and beyond. I wouldn't consider ourselves poor (at the moment, this will change soon) by national standards BUT where we live we are definitely below the average income by quite a significant amount. We do a lot of what you described above (shop sales/buy used, cloth diapers/EC, make food from scratch etc). For me even when we do get our new jobs I see these as important values to model for your kids because you never know what will happen with your income down the line. I don't know the age of your kids (that probably also plays a big role too) but if you felt they were old enough I'd just be upfront and tell them that we do XYZ to save money since we don't have a lot. You could even point out that things like the Wii and ipods were gifts. I think it's pretty important (again if your kids are old enough) to be pretty upfront about these things so they do realize what their parents are doing to manage money well and save.</p>
 
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