As a parent, it’s important to instill certain values in your children: right from wrong, a sense of self, and the value of money, to name a few.
That last one can prove tricky, though. How do you strike the balance between teaching children to be financially conscious without them becoming greedy?
For Dr. Shefali Tsabary, a clinical psychologist and best-selling author of the “The Conscious Parent” and “The Awakened Family,” it comes down to two things: determining money’s true worth and developing boundaries around it.
“It’s the energy of life and many times people are afraid of money and look at it as an ‘evil thing,’ right?” Tsabary explained to Farnoosh Torabi on an episode of her “So Money” podcast. “I tell people that it’s not because money itself is evil. It’s because you haven’t created boundaries around the use of money.”
Think of it this way: Money is like food. We need it to live and survive in the modern world, but it’s crucial to exercise self control around it or you’ll end up developing unhealthy habits. “It can only be effective in our lives if there are clear boundaries,” Tsabary says. “It’s all related to our sense of worth.”
So when it comes to teaching her daughter how much money is genuinely worth, Tsabary aims to show her that it’s available to anyone, like love, but that it’s not unlimited. It’s not about defining the difference between “You can do anything, don’t let money restrict you,” and “You can’t do that because you don’t have enough money,” but rather teaching children that even if they can’t afford something right this second, they can create a plan to work toward it.
“I always tell [my daughter] that there’s enough money for every single thing you desire,” Tsabary says. “But the key is to know what we truly need and then wait for what you need and create a plan for it in the future. But it is always a yes. I always want to create a sense of abundance. It’s always a yes, [but] it may not be a yes right now.”
Tsabary emphasizes that she’s by no means denying the existence of poverty or inequality, but rather attempting to eliminate much of the unnecessary anxiety around it.
“I do believe that much of our fear around money comes from the state of scarcity that parents create in their children, and actually they make them more thirsty for it rather than making them feel like ‘I have enough and be grateful for what I do have,'” she says.
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