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Mommy Magic

Using Economic Situations as Teachable Moments

Teaching The Value of Money and Giving

August 01, 2010
As a mom of three children, I have to admit, one good thing about being in a challenging economic time is actually saying "No" to my kids and meaning it! Let's face it, times are tough for majority of people right now, especially if you have kids—not to mention multiple kids.

For a while, "disposable" living was made pretty easy for us moms and many of us gave little thought to saying "yes" to all the "affordable" items in the $1 bins at Target, Wal-Mart or wherever we were doing errands that day. After all, it was only a couple of bucks. The problem with that mentality, over time, is twofold. First, saying yes all the time to "stuff" is not a great learning tool for our children. Secondly, and as important, a few bucks each time adds up. No huge surprise there, but when everybody has the newest and latest video game, cell phone, iPod and so on it is easy for a parent to get caught up in the "Yes" game. It is, however, NOT a game, but a reality—the reality of teaching our children what is important and how to identify it and define its place in the family unit.

With that, I see our current economic climate as an opportunity for moms to get back, refocus or even define for the first time, their family's core values. What we as moms will find in this process is that our family doesn't need or miss all of the material belongings. Instead, by saying "No" to our children will only open discussion for what, as a family, we truly value—each other!

If you are looking for ways to redefine your family's core values, now is the perfect time. Start by sitting down, carve out some time with your kids to brainstorm and put pen to paper and make a plan together! Some ideas to help you get stared include:

1. Teaching Your Kids that Money Does NOT Grow on Trees

Teaching Moments: Instilling Work Ethic in Kids

Tips: Selling Lemonade or Snow Cones, Annual Family Garage or Room Sale, Earning an Allowance, etc.

2. Teaching Your Kids to Define Core Values

Teaching Moments: Defining (with your kids) Your Family Core Values

Tips: If traveling and sharing new experiences are defined as a family core value through this process, then redefining it will be a cinch! Consider discovering your own city or state by planning a family "StayCation" next vacation.

3. Teaching Your Kids the Importance of Giving Back

Teaching Moments: Selecting a Family "Cause" To Support

Tips: Discuss and research, as a family, what cause(s) mean something to your family. Select one to focus on and support as a family. Plug into the cause and its scheduled events that support your family's core values (i.e. Annual Run/Walk, Food Drive, Auction.)

We did this very thing last Spring. We decide, as a family, to stop accumulating more "stuff" and enjoy each other by having more family experiences. With that, we had a family garage sale. Each of my kids helped sort through their items and decided what to sell. After purging 10 years of toys and kids clothes that had somehow stacked itself up in our "bonus" room, we vowed to stop purchasing stuff and spend that time "doing things" together. For instance, we play more board games as a family now, we have movie nights or bingo nights. We go on family bike rides or have picnics in our yard. Saying "No" to stuff only gave us license to say "Yes" to slowing down and really enjoying each other as a family.

Regardless of your kids ages, it is never too early to sit down and communicate as a family. After all, making a family plan, listing your core values and working together to stay on track only keeps a family close and on the same page. Rather than looking at our current economic climate as a stretch, use it as a learning opportunity for your kids and your family. It will only make your family unit stronger, more aware and confident in the long run.

Mary Susan Buhner is a Life Coach for Moms and author of "Mommy Magic: Tricks for Staying Sane in the Midst of Insanity" Visit www.Mommy-Magic.com for more information. Become a Fan of Mommy Magic on FaceBook!

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