Beautiful Virgin Islands


How to tell your kids you can't — or won't — afford everything they want

How to tell your kids you can't — or won't — afford everything they want

Instead of spending a fortune on holiday gifts and experiences, take your children to volunteer. It will help kickstart an important conversation.

Earlier this year, 8-year-old Frances, was trying to persuade her mom to let her go to a summer camp popular amongst her classmates. When her mom, Jennifer Gee, said no, Frances burst out: "Why are we so poor?!"

The Toronto mom of two was shocked. Gee had grown up with a single mom and without a lot of money. How could Frances think they were poor? Gee and her partner own a home, they have food on the table, and they had even planned to take Frances and her brother to a drive-through Christmas lights experience for the holidays! 

The camp that caused this outburst costs $4,000 a week. Though Frances, whose name has been changed to protect her privacy, attends a French public school in Toronto, it's in an affluent neighborhood, where Gee says half the kids have nannies. 

Gee and her family don't live in this affluent neighborhood, but are zoned for that French public school. Gee is a school chaplain. Her partner lost his job during the pandemic, and hasn't found the same kind of secure job to replace it. 

"We don't have a nanny, but that doesn't mean that we're poor. There's something in the middle," Gee says. "[Frances] sees the disparity in some cases between what we're able to afford and what her friends' parents are able to afford."

Gee knew she needed to start talking to Frances about money and class, even if Frances is only 8.


Talk about money at the grocery store


Though 83% of American parents believe it's their responsibility to talk to their kids about money, 31% of them never do it. 

Parents often feel that money conversations are awkward, scary, and can seem "too adult" for kids — especially ones in elementary school, according to Ed Grocholski, chief marketing officer at Junior Achievement USA, an organization that teaches financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and work readiness. But kids don't necessarily feel the same.

"With inflation, some of the research we've done is that rising prices are top-of-mind for kids," Grocholski says.

He recommends that parents start talking about money when kids bring it up. Though asking to go to $4,000 camps isn't the norm, money does come up when grocery shopping or buying gifts for the holidays.

Gee is doing just this. She started showing Frances the family's grocery bill every week to show her how much things cost. When Frances saw the $135 grocery bill, she couldn't believe how high the amount was! 

I, on the other hand, couldn't believe how low the amount was! A Canadian family of four typically spends $287 a week on groceries.

Gee says she has always been an avid couponer and price matcher, which is how she keeps her bill so low. She even showed Frances where she used coupons to save money (which also helps Frances with her math skills). 

"I grew up with that scarcity mentality I don't want my kids to have," Gee says. "But we are also hoping that this teaches her that money is finite."


Parents face pressure to give their kids holiday 'experiences'


During the height of the pandemic, 23% of parents with kids under 18 felt the need to overspend to give their children the best holidays.

According to Gee, this feeling hasn't gone away.

She says that the holidays now aren't just presents and sitting on Santa's lap for a quick photo — they're filled with "experiences." Drive-through holiday light displays are popular these days, which cost around $30 per car. Toronto malls offer "Santa experiences," where kids take their classic Santa photo, but also get to make a gingerbread house and write a letter to the North Pole. These cost between $20 to $45.

"You're mindful that saving money for you is also potentially taking away an experience for your kids," Gee says.


Volunteering can be the antidote to holiday spending pressure


Between the holiday experiences and the presents, it all adds up. Many parents know they can't afford it anymore.

Gee says she's noticed an openness around money between parents in the past six months. Parents she barely knows are talking to her in the school parking lot and at activities about how the price of keeping their kids busy is getting to be too much.

Geleen Donovan, Family Promise of Union County's executive director, recommends that parents replace these activities with volunteering. Family Promise's mission is to end and prevent homelessness. Donovan works with many volunteers to help these families who are in poverty. She sees a major perspective shift in kids when they start to volunteer.

"The volunteer activity will cost nothing and will bring so much reward," Donovan says. "I really think it's a good antidote."

Donovan believes in practicing "radical compassion." She thinks that volunteering will help parents and kids see how well off they truly are — even if they can't afford every holiday activity. 

Gee has been setting this type of example for Frances. As a school chaplain, she's in charge of raising the funds to buy gift cards for 40 low-income families for Christmas. Now that Frances knows what their family spends on groceries every week, Gee asks her to help figure out how much they need to feed 40 families. 

Once again, Frances is aghast at the thousands of dollars it costs to feed people. Gee says she's starting to see the concept of money and privilege click for Frances. It's been helpful for her as a parent, too.

"You remind yourself that it doesn't actually matter," Gee says. "They'll be fine without the gingerbread house with Santa."

Newsletter

Related Articles

Beautiful Virgin Islands
0:00
0:00
Close
Labour Leader Starmer Focuses on Wealth Creation for Upcoming UK Elections
I have a dream, MLK inspiring speech
G7 to Use Frozen Russian Assets for $50 Billion Ukraine Aid
Aretha Franklin, Marvis Staples - Oh Happy Day
Anti-Israel Irish MEP Clare Daly LOST her seat in the EU Election
BVI Freedom Song
Johnson & Johnson Settles Talc Safety Claims for $700 Million
Billy Preston - You Can't Beat God Giving (Live)
EU Urged to Welcome Skilled Russians to Weaken Putin
VIRGIN ISLANDS REGGAE CARIBBEAN RIDDIMZ
EU Elections Overview: Far-Right Gains and Major Political Shifts
Oh Happy Day Edwin Hawkins - Anthony Brown w FBCG Combined Choir
Israel Rescues Four Hostages from Gaza
'Stand by Me' performed by Karen Gibson and The Kingdom Choir
Emmanuel Macron Calls for Snap Election
National Anthem of the British Virgin Islands - Oh, Beautiful Virgin
Jordan Bardella: Young Far-Right Leader Poised for Future Political Influence in France
Hello Dolly
World's Oldest Privately Owned Book Auctioned for $3.8 Million
for KING & COUNTRY - Amen (Reborn) [feat. Lecrae & The WRLDFMS Tony Wi
Animal Rights Activists Deface King Charles' Portrait in Protest
Bob Marley - Get Up Stand Up
Dutch Military Intel Uncovers Extensive Chinese Cyber Espionage
Yes He Can
Turkish Student Arrested for Using AI to Cheat in University Exam
What A Friend We Have In Jesus
Rise in Dengue and Other Mosquito-Borne Diseases in Europe Due to Climate Change
Unforgettable
EU Elections Overview: Far-Right Gains and Major Political Shifts
Touch The Hem Of His Garment
Far-Right National Rally Dominates France's EU Vote
The Lord's Prayer
Macron Calls Snap Legislative Elections After Far-Right Victory
THE GOD MOVEMENT...BEAUTIFUL BVI
Far-Right Gains Significantly in EU Election
Siyahamba
UK Job Market Shows Signs of Recovery
Ray Charles And The Voices Of Jubilaton, Oh, Happy Day
Orban’s Fidesz Party Wins Majority in Hungary’s EU Elections as New Challenger Emerges
Ramblin' Rose
Meloni's Far-Right Party Wins European Elections in Italy
Protoje - Who Knows ft. Chronixx
Key Insights from the European Union Elections
Pressure - Virgin Islands Nice
European Union Elections and Rise of Far-Right Parties
Phil Wickham - House Of The Lord
England Loses Over 260,000 Social Rent Homes in a Decade
My God Is Real (Yes, God Is Real)
Campaigners Urge Government to Block Shein's FTSE Listing
The Lion King Circle of Life by LEBO M. — LIVE at the HAVASI Symphonic
First NHS AI-Run Physiotherapy Clinic Launches This Year
Louis Armstrong - When The Saints Go Marching In
British TV Presenter Michael Mosley Found Dead on Greek Island
Kanye West Sunday Service - hallelujah, salvation, and glory
Ukrainian Forces Claims First Strike on Russia's Su-57 Fighter Jet
Jonathan Nelson - I Believe (Island Medley
Macron Dissolves Parliament and Calls Snap Elections
From The Virgin Islands Sqad Up
Russia Adds Yulia Tymoshenko to Wanted List
Common, John Legend - Glory
UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron Tricked by Hoax Caller Posing as Former Ukrainian President
Anthony Evans vs. Jesse Campbell - If I Ain't Got You
Kate Middleton's Absence from Colonel's Review Due to Chemotherapy
I have a dream, MLK inspiring speech
UK Foreign Secretary Deceived by Prank Video Call
Aretha Franklin, Marvis Staples - Oh Happy Day
Sunak Criticised Over D-Day Exit in BBC Debate
BVI Freedom Song
Rishi Sunak Apologizes for Leaving D-Day Commemoration Early
Billy Preston - You Can't Beat God Giving (Live)
UK Woman Sentenced After Causing Fatal Crash While Sending Selfies
VIRGIN ISLANDS REGGAE CARIBBEAN RIDDIMZ
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen Assaulted in Central Copenhagen
Oh Happy Day Edwin Hawkins - Anthony Brown w FBCG Combined Choir
UN to Add Israel to Human Rights Blacklist
'Stand by Me' performed by Karen Gibson and The Kingdom Choir
Germany and France Oppose EU Luxury Car Restrictions to Russia
National Anthem of the British Virgin Islands - Oh, Beautiful Virgin
Plus-Sized Miss Alabama Sara Milliken Responds to Online Critics
Hello Dolly
Nigel Farage's Return Boosts Support for Reform UK Party
for KING & COUNTRY - Amen (Reborn) [feat. Lecrae & The WRLDFMS Tony Wi
Labour Party to Pledge Recognition of Palestinian State in Election Manifesto
Bob Marley - Get Up Stand Up
British Paratroopers Greeted by French Customs After D-Day Anniversary Airdrop
Yes He Can
UK Statistics Watchdog Chief Urges Sunak to Clarify Labour Tax Claim Source
What A Friend We Have In Jesus
UK Conservatives Promise to Restore Child Benefit for Higher Earners
Unforgettable
US House Votes to Sanction International Criminal Court
Touch The Hem Of His Garment
British Judges Resign from Hong Kong's Top Court
The Lord's Prayer
Australia Abandons Case on Stabbing Videos Against Elon Musk's Platform
THE GOD MOVEMENT...BEAUTIFUL BVI
Sunak and Starmer Clash Over Tax in Heated TV Debate
Siyahamba
Harry Potter Tourism Sparks Economic Boost in UK
Ray Charles And The Voices Of Jubilaton, Oh, Happy Day
×