This week, Ilke Aerts, a lawyer at Greenille by Laga, discusses
the importance of the financial education of children.
Talking about money often makes people feel uncomfortable. We
also see this happening when it comes to the financial education of
wealthy children and children from wealthy families. Parents are
can be reluctant to discuss their wealth with their children.
However, such sensitivity might not always be warranted - most
children are not naïve and it does not take them long to
notice the differences between their own and their friends'
How children relate to money and to wealth in general is mainly
driven by the attitudes and behaviour of the parents themselves.
Research has shown that parents with an "uncomfortable"
relationship towards money and the use of it can negatively affect
their children's emotional growth. Those who understand that
money itself is neither good nor bad and that it is their own
behaviour, what they do with their wealth and what that they teach
their children, will have a more positive impact on their
When and how can parents inform their children about their
The sooner the better. Financial education is all about creating
"money consciousness" and the responsibilities that go
along with it. As it is usually not something children learn at
school, parents should reflect on the messages they send their
children on money issues.
Financial education is therefore not something that can be seen
as a "quick fix" through a dinner table discussion or
workshop; it requires a continuous process in which open and
transparent communication are essential.
Families that are reluctant to talk explicitly with their
children about money or wealth are often concerned about
encouraging spoiled behaviour. Although these intentions are
understandable (and it is easy to rationalise why their children do
not need to be involved in discussions about money), it is not
communicating to children that might lead to exact the opposite of
what they intend. One day they will find out anyway and this
generally happens sooner than expected. For children who have never
been informed and educated about the rights and duties that come
along with wealth, the risk is much higher that they will not
manage it successfully. Therefore, prioritising children's
financial education means to not treat money as a taboo topic and
to be able to engage in conversations, even when they seem
Engage in good money conversations
Parents can also model good "money behaviours". But to
be most effective, this should be complemented with good
conversations. Talk about wealth at all ages. Give information,
verbal or intentional, according to the interest and maturity level
of the child. Every day offers opportunities to learn, to educate,
to talk to your children about financial issues. Keep teaching
children new and more complex things about money as they grow
older. Couple this with opportunities for learning about
responsibility and decision-making in the context of the
We realise this is a difficult and challenging goal. But being
(or becoming) a financially-intelligent parent means starting by
taking small steps.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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