That was the question my girls posed to my own parents this past weekend. The economy, the past recessions and the mother of all depressions, the Great Depression are being discussed in almost every grade and every classroom at school these days.
Money, and the lack of money, is being talked about by kids in and out of the classroom. This is an opportunity just made for grandparents to tell a story that will help kids learn. Here are a few ideas to help you jumpstart your conversation about money with your grandchildren.
Tell a story: At the next family dinner, ask your grandchildren what they are hearing about money in school. Have they been talking about the economy or the fall of the stock market? If they aren’t talking about it in class, ask whether any of their friends’ parents has lost a job, or faced foreclosure on their home. Pick up the thread and start to tell a story that relates to what the kids are hearing.
Share a money “blip”: Did you lose money in the market? Did you lose or come close to losing a home? Were you or your parents out of work for a very long time? Let them know about that “blip” in time and how you survived and thrived. Kids don’t have a long-term view at this point in their development. They need you to help them think this way.
Talk about your first job: How old were you when you first started working? What was the job and how much did you earn? What did you do with that money? Were you asked to help support your family? The idea of giving money to your family rather than taking it from your family is foreign to most kids today. Let them know how you contributed to your family’s bottom line and how that felt.
This past weekend, when my own kids asked about the Great Depression, my mother told the girls about how her father, their great grandfather, always had the bug to be an entrepreneur. He and their great grandmother started a business just as the war was breaking out. The store was filled with toasters and coffee pots — all items that required metal — something that was now needed for the war effort. They could not get new inventory after the first shipment, so the store closed. My mom went on to explain that this was why she helped me start my business. She felt like it was a way to help her own father’s dream to own his own business come true. Both girls learned that they have the “entrepreneur bug” in their family line and that even in the face of failure, success, given time, will prevail — even if that success comes a few generations later.