Kids Pick Up On Your Money Worries More Than You Think

Think you can’t have an adult conversation in front of your kids? Well, you can’t…and maybe you shouldn’t. A new study shows that kids pick up on their parents’ financial woes more than we thought. And that’s a concern, considering the state of the world economy. Since we all have serious issues to worry about these days, we all need to rethink the way we communicate with our spouses/partners in front of our kids.

You can blame Highlights Magazine for all this. Tomorrow, they will be releasing their findings in a new report at the National Press Club. The report was based on 1,000 responses from children to a survey that was sent out in spring. Although this was not an extensive study, it does reveal what kids are seeing and hearing around us. And as always, they see and hear more than we suspect. When kids were asked what their parents were most concerned about, the most prevalent answers were “my safety and money.” What gave researchers pause were the details children gave with their answers.

  • “…they worry a lot about money, ‘cause the recession.”
  • “I think they worry about safety and losing everything we own. America is in debt.”
  • “Making sure we have a home and food on the table.”

Hillary Bates, a Highlights spokesperson, stated:

“Kids are, quite naturally, highly attuned to what their parents are concerned about. They often pick up on more than we as parents might think they do — and I think we’ve learned here that they are very aware of the worst case scenarios that are on some parents’ minds…Maybe more aware than we think they are or want them to be.”

It’s difficult, because we all feel compelled to talk about our greatest concerns. But kids can hear, and they’re great at picking up on your tone of voice and mannerisms. It’s not healthy for them to be worried about issues that are beyond them. It’s like if you were the captain of a cruise ship, and you were notified of a potential problem with the ship: Would you shout all your worries in front of the passengers, freaking people out? Then later when everything turned out alright, would you say, “My bad. Sorry I worried all of  you and ruined your vacations.” Or would you just stay tight lipped, let the passengers enjoy themselves, and only alert them if and when a real immediate danger presented itself?

We all know the state of the economy, and things aren’t going to get better for a long time. Unfortunately, more employers are exploiting this as we speak. All I can say is I’m glad I don’t work at Amazon right now. Regardless, as the saying goes, don’t take work home with you. It’s important to leave your worries at the door when the kids are around.

Just remember, your kids are always watching, and they pick up on more than you realize. When you get upset, just think- would you be acting that way if there was a camera recording your every move at home? Because, in a way, there is.

How do you keep your stresses and worries away from your kids? What things can we do to make it easier?

Source: The Washington Post


11 thoughts on “Kids Pick Up On Your Money Worries More Than You Think

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  1. We save virtually 100% of serious conversations for outside the kid’s ears for this very reason. Adult issues need to stay just there – in the adult world.

    And you know what? This is VERY HARD! Because there are times I want to talk to my husband NOW about something IMPORTANT and I CAN’T because I don’t want the kids listening in and internalizing things that shouldn’t worry them.

    It makes adult conversations better because we speak more freely, but harder because we save a lot of our conversations for when they’re in bed or we’re out without them.


    1. Yeah, it’s difficult because when you actually get to the conversation later, it’s all out of context at that point. However, it’s still important to kind the kids in mind, so to speak.


    2. Great post & so very true.

      @ Missy ^ we’re the same but yes it’s SO hard to exercise self control/patience & wait until little ears are out of ear shot or asleep…especially if as a couple you are a little time poor!

      In saying that it is good to talk about some things such as being on a budget if money is tight so that they learn money doesn’t grow on trees & that they can’t have everything they want like ‘Johnny’.


  2. Financial conversations in my home is reserved when our child is sleeping. That gives us time to talk about it and focus 100%. We also do this several rooms away from her/our bedroom.

    There is no need to cause her to worry about things that are out of her control, that is not a good feeling. So, I would stay tight lipped unless I absolutely have to explain things to her. Even then it won’t be worded in a way that would make her feel like she has to do something about it.

    If children do feel the need to help out, why not empower them? It will teach them that they don’t have to feel helpless.


  3. I feel like we Americans are very lucky to have the privilege and opportunity to try and keep our children innocent of our worries. Parents in Africa, the Middle East, even just south of us in Mexico don’t have this luxury. Their world is full of strife, violence, hunger, and instability—no one can be unaware or hide from the facts of their daily life. Sometimes, I think we protect our children too much.

    I think childhood goes very quickly and when my girl was younger, all I wanted was for her to be happy and carefree, even while I was going through a painful divorce and my business wasn’t truly supporting us. I think I succeeded to a large extent.

    Now, she’s a young teenager. She knows money is tight, but I try to make light of it at the same time. I’ve been spending more money because she’s needed to go on a gluten-free diet. We found some pasta and sauce that she loves. I joked about having it for a month straight. She laughed and said, “Bring it on.”

    Having to be extremely careful about money has also shown her how to prioritize, save up, and the reality that even though her father and I work hard (we both freelance) and scramble for jobs—I believe we are both talented at our jobs—that’s no guarantee that I’ll get more photography clients or he’ll get more AD jobs.

    Politicians like to assert that if we work hard, everyone can achieve the American dream. Uh, nice try. That’s simply not the truth. I like to be as open and honest with my daughter as I think is age appropriate. I don’t need to hand her rose-colored glasses, I just need to make sure that she knows that I will always, always be here for her, working hard and taking care of her—no matter what. I’m in it for the long haul.


    1. I completely agree with this response. Being a single mom, I don’t have anyone at home to have a “private conversation” with. When my roof was caving in (literally) from last year’s rains, and I was wondering how on earth I was going to handle it all-both financially and physically, I couldn’t help my emotions and struggles coming through to my daughter. Nor could I help when we were forced to leave one home or another due to situations beyond my control that put a great amount of stress on me/her. However, even at age 5, 6, 7, I too, have tried to explain things for a child’s understanding making certain that she knew no matter what, Mommy was not going to let anything happen to her or us as a family. When it comes to money, she knows we are on a budget, and she also knows that there are times we get “extras” and times we don’t. Her childhood, her carefree nature, happy demeanor seem no worse for the ware considering everything we’ve had to endure over the past 3 years with me going it alone. I would say this, yes, save certain conversations or comments for behind closed doors (if you have someone to have conversations with), but also realize that children do hear even when you think they don’t, do feel even if you try to hide the stress, and do need to understand what’s really going on so that they aren’t confused. They will still be able to be their happy little selves if we love them and provide the best we can for them regardless of it all. I appreciate the post and the comments.


    2. That’s what politicians say about unemployment- that people just aren’t trying or working hard enough. Of course, nothing is ever that simple. I’m sure your daughter knows you’re in it for the long haul. Keep working hard.


  4. What an interesting post – I suppose it’s common sense really. I mean, kids aren’t stupid are they? One of my clearest memories as a child is as a ten year old, when my dad was really stressed about work. I remember feeling nervous, because I was worried about him. Even though he tried to hide it I still knew something was up. Amazing how intuitive kids can be.


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