I had an eye opening parenting meeting the other day in one of my favourite parenting meeting locations—the school parking lot.
Parenting experts from near and far (but mostly near) gathered to discuss life with kids, our love of school lunches and on this particular day, something surprised me.
It wasn’t Janet’s crafty bento box or Alex’s quinoa ball recipe, the discussion shifted to the books or book-alternates, various kids had purchased at the school Book Fair the week earlier.
I chimed in about Chloe’s obsession and tears over wanting a Barbie “book” that was neither a book nor even endorsed by the robots who make Barbie, when another Mom told me her daughter had bought that very item and with her own money.
It was the “with her own money” part that struck a chord.
How does her daughter have access to “her own money?”
I assumed we were all tucking their money away on their behalf and then one day we’d all yell “Surprise!” or “Money tree!” or have a party to celebrate the bank balance over cappuccinos (because they would be old enough to drink coffee by the time this happened).
Another Mom explained the strange choices her sons had made while shopping at the Book Fair, “Oh well, it’s their money.”
Then another, “My son had some leftover money from shopping at Chapters so he used it to buy some pencils.”
Wait, why are my kids the only ones with no money and no access to any? And for the love of God, why does the Book Fair sell items that have nothing to do with books?
Someone asked, “Well it’s their birthday money they get from relatives or friends.”
Sure, my kids get that too but it goes straight into the bank. I wanted to say, “So they can’t waste it on useless crap” but I caught myself because maybe I’m the one making the horrible mistake by not letting them learn about the exchange of goods and services for money.
Maybe that’s why my four year old assumes when we go into a store, the owners are paying us to relieve them of their fresh produce and electronics and not the other way around.
My kids have never handed someone a $20 that was all theirs and waited for $.05 change after purchasing an eraser shaped like an ipad at a book fair.
What is the right age to give your kids control over their own finances?