Banking on parenting


According to Jim Gallagher’s column in yesterday’s Post-Dispatch, you can tell a lot about people by what they leave in their repossessed cars: the unopened bank mail, fast food wrappers, ATM receipts documenting multiple withdrawals in a single day. All the things indicative of a disorganized life.

What’s saddest, however, is that not only are these folks have difficulty managing their own finances, but they’re also modeling a stressful, disorganized lifestyle to their children. All too often children’s school books are buried in the remains of these repossessed vehicles, indicating to folks in the banks’ loan departments that these parents weren’t paying attention to their children’s homework.

Fast forward a few years, and the banks are finding themselves repossessing cars from these now-grown children whose parents they had dealt with earlier. Apparently the parents hadn’t taught them good financial habits and no one else was doing it either.

Parents cannot begin to understand the impact they have on their children, say early childhood experts. Developing brains soak up every word, every attitude, every action. So if parents don’t have the skills themselves to create a safe and stable environment for their children, guess what gets passed on to the next generation?

It’s critical for young parents to understand money matters. Personal finance is much more involved than balancing a checkbook. It’s credit and debit cards,  consumer loans, savings and investments, budgeting and setting financial goals. Who teaches that today?

A lot of Parents as Teachers parents get this kind of guidance from their parent educators. Money Matters: a young parent’s workbook for finances and the future is one resource teens and other young parents can find in the e-Store at www.parentsasteachers.org. (Look for item #257.)

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