Christmas: Kid’s expectations vs. financial realities
My memories of Christmas period during childhood have always been of new dresses, new shoes, new movies, Christmas decor, harmattan, chin chin, rice and chicken. For many families, this is a season of much spending.
A few days ago, my husband and I had fun eavesdropping on a conversation between a mother and her 3 children at McDonald’s. Actually, we did not need to eavesdrop, the mother was loud enough for everyone close by to hear. They sat adjacent to us munching on their burgers, chips and chicken nuggets. The children were obviously delighted.
Son 1: We should do this more often.
Daughter: And cinema too.
Mom: I had to work 2 hrs for you to eat this and I will have to work a bit more than 2 hrs for y’all to go to the cinema from here.
Son 2: And we will be having popcorn.
Mom: You still want popcorn after eating all these?, she said with so much shock.
Son 1: But these are cheap.
Mom: Everything is cheap when you’re not the one paying for it
Son 2: But Daddy can afford it.
Mom: Yea daddy can ‘cause he works full time. I have to work part time to look after y’all and to pick y’all from school. Daddy will not do that.
Son 1: How many hours do I have to work to make £100?
Mom: 1 week.
After a brief silence,
Son 1: Mom what age do I have to be before I can work? 18?
Mom: I had my first job at 14.
Of course the conversation was longer than I’ve highlighted. However, the interesting thing for us about the conversation was the consciousness of the relationship between work and fun which the mom had started to imbibe in her kids, making them look forward to work when they are able. She was trying to teach them not to take things for granted but to be more considerate in demands and appreciative of the efforts parents put in to make their children happy.
And it seemed to work. Son 1 who should be about 8 to 10 yrs old was already thinking of taking responsibility. He wanted to know how soon and how much he could make. Probably so as to not have to deal with his mom’s money complaints or to help the family or even to get a long-desired toy, whichever way, he is becoming financially responsible.
That day's experience reminded me of those times when I had expected some things from my parents and got denied. Once, our dad refused to release money for any new clothes for Christmas. We were all devastated. We felt it was our right to have new clothes for Christmas and New year days and we didn’t care why we were being denied. Could it have been more bearable if he explained why there was no money for that? Would I have believed him? Are children really considerate about financial constraints?
I think Christmas is a very special season for kids and it will be good to factor their expectations early in planning. However, there may be other inevitable financial demands that put these expectations lower on the priority list. Should parents explain these to their children?
Please share your thoughts below on how much you think parents should tell their kids about family financial situation. What can this achieve?
Radiant ~ December 2018