And A Child Shall Lead Them
Previously published on February 27, 2014
It was also a most life-enhancing one for me.
Money was tight with us. We were still renting and although both of us were working, our responsibilities extended beyond our household. My baby girl was in prep school at the time and that was a fee we also had to cover. Her birth father was to help with that but as with many other things he was to help us with, it fell by the wayside.
Stretched to the fray, when she told us about the all-day fair and concert at school, we knew the budget would have to be adjusted. Thinking that a 6/7-year-old could eat and ride so much, we gave Princess Chulumba (our nickname for her), Jamaican $500. That would have been about US$12 or so when this happened (1993/94).
Teaching My Daughter Money Management
We were trying to teach my daughter about budgetting and accountability, even at that age. Actually, it was more my partner who had taken on the challenge and every evening as we were driving home from work and school, she would have to say how she spent her lunch money.
That evening was no different. As we drove home, Princess Chulumba recounted the excitement of the fair, all that she ate and the rides she went on. Little did this sweet, tired but deliciously happy child realize that her expenditure was being tallied.
She had spent well over J$500 and a recount was definitely in order!
The following day was a Saturday so we were home and the Princess was at her desk with pencil and paper explaining her previous day’s expenditure. What followed was nothing short of high drama!
It took all day, adding and subtracting, then finally the confession that floored and changed how I related to my daughter on money matters and truth-telling in general came.
I never lied to my baby girl but I was careful about some of the details – either because she did not need to know yet or for effect. Well, when she finally confessed that day it caused me to reconsider my truth-telling with her.
My daughter confessed that she had stolen money from my “mother-in-law’s” purse. Another J$500.
The Lie: “We Are Poor”
That was how she paid for all those rides and food not just for herself but for her friends as well. She thought what we had given her would not have been enough. My six-year-old said that she did not want to ask for more because “We are poor.”
Shocked, flipping mad and yet brokenhearted, I cried and cried.
The next day, we drove her to my in-laws and had her confess to them what she had done and made a promise to pay the money back through chores.
Over the six years of her life, I made no bones about our financial situation and that we could not spend on unnecessary items simply because my daughter wanted or liked them. I was also open with her about aspects of my relationship with her father, not all and certainly not the domestic violence.
What that experience taught me was how to exercise “wise counsel,” meaning be sure to know my audience and how much to disclose to them based on their capacity to understand. Filter became important. I did not begin to lie to her but became more discerning about what she was ready to handle.
Speak The Truth And Speak It Ever…
A firm believer in honesty and straight talk, I have learned that not everyone is ready to handle your truth. My favourite example of this is when you pass say a coworker in the hallway and they ask, “How are you?” Do they really want to know? Or is it just a common courtesy?
Now, if you ask me a question about myself I will gauge my response based on:
- The nature of our relationship and whether I feel you are just asking for the gossip
- How well you have handled my truth in the past
- How ready you are for a straight answer
For sure you will get a truth-filled answer from me but, depending on who you are in relation to me and my life, some details might be filtered. However, you will see my truth if you are really looking and listening to me.
“Honesty is more than not lying. It is truth telling, truth speaking, truth living, and truth loving.” James E. Faust
Re-posted this story as we have explored the issue of teaching children boundaries. What I hope you have gathered from this is that while it is important for children to learn where the invisible lines are in the various relationships they will have, it is equally valid for them to hear the truth – in age-appropriate language. Another lesson from my daughter.
Ask yourself these questions in relation to your children but also in your general relationships:
- How honest am I with my child/friends/family/co-workers?
- Am I a practitioner of truth-telling?
- Do I speak my truth first to myself?
- Who in my life can handle my truth?
Would love to hear your opinion and comments on this whole matter of speaking your truth to your children, family and when it really matters that you do so. Leave your comments below and let us “draw long bench” on this. Are you a part of our Facebook community yet? Hop over, Like the page and join in the conversation!