The Effects of “Cutting Back” on the Family

By Laraine L. Thompson

In a Woman’s Day, October 2009 article, entitled “Kids, I Shrunk the Honey” Paula Spencer details the consequences of paring our family budgets, from eliminating fast food, designer clothing, cell phone access, cable television, to unnecessary extra-curricular activities. Certainly there is guilt associated with a parent’s desires to cut back. We may be duped into feeling that we are somehow inadequate, that we just don’t love our children enough, that we are not nurturing enough, that we are unwilling to supply them with important “needs”. On the contrary, our children may learn some critical truths in our actions to cut back in our expenses:

 1.    Maybe, just maybe, they will take better care of their “stuff”.

2.    Unfed, the bottomless hunger for immediate gratification might go away.

3.    Although reading food labels is healthy, paying attention to other labels is not.

4.    Their old “stuff” may get new life or take on new importance.

5.    They may finally grasp basic economics: Money grows neither on trees nor in the ATM.

6.    They will still get into college—scholarship, employment, savings.

7.    Deprivation may ignite that invaluable motivating force called desire/ambition.

And perhaps, the most important, but unstated truth that our children will learn is that they are eventually and ultimately responsible for their own care and keeping, that they alone are responsible for the choices made in their lives, from making money for desired privileges/things, to making money for their own college education. Now, there’s a novel, radical idea!

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