Questions From You

Parenting questions submitted by our community members and answered by a YOU Program facilitator.
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How can I teach my children the value of money?

January 31, 2014

By YOU Program Facilitator

Children with piggy banks

Question: My kids think money grows on trees. They think they're entitled to the latest toys and video games as soon as they come out, but I want them to work for nice things and earn them. How do I teach them to appreciate the value of money?

Answer: As a parent, it’s normal to want to give our children everything we can, especially those of us who grew up not having a lot things. We feel we need to compensate, but we have to be aware to not fall into that trap. Create a balance between what you give them and when you give it to them.

One of the first things that your children should learn is the importance of money. They need to understand the difficulties of earning it. Try giving them a certain amount of money for every age-appropriate chore they accomplish. Let them learn that they will only get money if they work hard for it.

Depending on their ages, you can apply the following strategy: suggest that your kids save up to pay half the cost of what they want and you’ll pay for the other half. If they want the item, they should be willing to earn it. Kids need to learn that if they really want something, they should wait and save in order to buy it. This strategy will also get them into the habit of thinking before spending.

Teaching your children how to save and manage money wisely will help them face future financial hurdles. You can even start teaching your children to save when they are toddlers. They probably receive birthday cards with money or checks from relatives during special occasions. Open a savings account for them and let them watch it grow. Have your children set a long-term goal for something more expensive than the toys, candy, or clothes they might have been saving for.

While you are working on helping them understand the value of money, you can use this opportunity to talk to them about the importance of donating to charities. Later in life, they will be in the habit of donating to those in need, which will help them value what they have. What kids learn about giving during childhood will last a lifetime.

Parents are the main influence on their children’s financial behaviors, so it’s our responsibility to raise a generation of conscious buyers, savers, and benefactors.

You can learn more about the issues addressed in this question in the YOU: Your Child's First Teacher book series. For information about teaching your child financial responsibilities, see the Through High School and Beyond book on page 40.

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How can I help my son learn my home country’s culture while he grows up in the States?

January 24, 2014

By YOU Program Facilitator

Question: How do I share my home country culture with my seven-year old son while encouraging him to learn and embrace American culture?

Answer: It’s difficult to maintain your culture and identity as an immigrant in the United States. Your family will be influenced by this new culture, but don’t fret. The clue to raising bicultural children relies on instilling a sense of pride in their heritage while letting them experience the new culture openly, without making them feel as if they are betraying your own traditions.

Here are some ideas you can try in order to create a bicultural environment that will help your son thrive in both traditions.

  • Teach the language. Language is one of the main ways you can understand a culture. Besides, bilingual children will have more academic and professional opportunities in the future. At home, speak in both languages.
  • Keep traditions alive. Celebrate your home country’s holidays and make your son part of the celebrations by explaining their meaning to him. Cook traditional foods both during the holidays and throughout the year. If possible, spice up celebrations with music and dance from your home country. Your son will associate his culture with fun times and novelty.
  • Keep in touch with family and friends. If most of your family still lives in your home country, connect through email, Facebook, or Skype. Make a habit of talking to them frequently and include your son in these conversations. Encourage him to ask questions to his relatives about what they eat, their daily routine, their work, etc. This will not only tighten family ties but will help him realize how life is in his other culture.
  • Embrace American life without too much judgment. Let your child live his other culture freely. Don’t judge him for wanting to be part of American celebrations or by conducting himself in a more “American” way. In the meantime, you can make an effort to learn more about your adoptive country, its culture, its language, and the reasons behind all of its traditions.

By doing these things with your son, you will quickly realize that all cultures are valuable and that adding one more to your family will only enrich your life, not subtract from your original beliefs.

For more information about bicultural education, see the YOU: Your Child's First Teacher book series, specifically page 18 in Through Elementary and Middle School.

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How can I help my daughter cope with marital arguments?

January 17, 2014

By YOU Program Facilitator

A daughter listens to her parents argue.

Question: Sometimes my husband and I have arguments and my 5-year-old daughter gets very upset. How can I help her cope?

Answer: Arguments and disagreements happen. Between differing opinions or general irritations and annoyances, these heated conversations can happen in front of your child. But they don’t have to be a destructive force in your family.

Use this opportunity to reevaluate how you and your husband argue. Try to work together to achieve the following goals to model positive conflict resolution for your daughter.

  • Stay calm. Avoid arguing from a place of anger and frustration. Set ground rules before the argument, such as limiting the discussion to one topic and taking a time-out if things start getting too heated.
  • Listen. Validate each other’s opinions and feelings by listening to what the other has to say.
  • During the argument, be responsive to your daughter. While you and your spouse are focused on the argument, how is your daughter reacting? Did she run away? Is she hiding or crying? Sometimes it’s best to postpone the argument to check in on her, especially if that argument is getting heated.

Even with the best of intentions, it’s not always possible to control ourselves as we would like to when we get worked up and emotional. After an argument that your daughter witnessed, it’s important to follow up with her.

  • Let her see the resolution. Whether it resulted in an apology, a compromise, or an agreement to disagree, let your daughter see that arguments end and people can move forward happily after them.
  • Assess her feelings. Don’t assume that just because your argument is over, her negative feelings have passed. Talk to her about what she heard, what she felt, and what it all means. Apologize and be willing to admit if you took things too far or said something you didn’t mean. Talk about how you both want to handle things in the future.
  • Explain that you and your husband still love each other. Tell your daughter that even though you and your husband may argue, you still love each other and you both love your daughter. Demonstrate this love by setting aside time to spend together as a family doing a fun, bonding activity. Familiar activities can help reassure young children.

Arguing can be restorative. It can help clear the air and get on the same page with someone else. It can help couples move forward stronger than they were before, but only if it’s engaged consciously. Be aware of what your arguing is teaching your daughter. You’ll reap the benefits when she is a teenager and you have to work through conflicts directly with her.

For more information on modeling positive behavior, see the first book of the YOU: Your Child's First Teacher book series, Through the Early Years, page 38.

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My daughter’s friends are bad influences. What should I do?

January 10, 2014

By YOU Program Facilitator

Question: My daughter's friends are bad influences. They encourage her to skip class and her grades are dropping. How do I help her see that her friends are bad influences and that she shouldn't hang out with them or mimic their behavior?

Answer: As our kids grow, we must remember that they are taking their first steps toward independence. But just because we can’t always dictate what they do, doesn’t mean that our influence or importance lessens in any way. Try the following strategies to help guide your daughter’s social development.

  • Get your thoughts in order. The more you push and argue with her, the more she will push back and you may end up driving her further into the behavior that you’re trying to dissuade her from. Take an afternoon for yourself to relax and think about what you want for her and why.
  • Open up your home. Make your home a welcoming environment for your daughter and her friends. Observe their interactions and keep a close eye on how she is spending her time. If your daughter is in the same class as her friends, help facilitate a study group or homework session.
  • Listen to your daughter. Spend quality one-on-one time with your daughter. The more often throughout the week, the better. Listen for signs of her current values and what her group of friends offers her.
  • Withhold judgment. Even a disappointed tone can shut down a conversation.
  • Share stories of your own friendships, the good and the bad. Let your daughter see that you understand where she’s coming from, that social lives are important to everyone, and that we often have to approach friendships critically in order to navigate them successfully.

Remember to stay a strong and positive presence in your daughter’s life. In the meantime, work with your daughter and her teachers to address difficulties in class and to facilitate successful academic work as much as possible.

For more information about supporting your daughter’s social development and addressing academic difficulties, please refer to the YOU: Your Child's First Teacher book series. Specifically, read pages 41, 43, and 50 in Through Elementary and Middle School.

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How can my wife and I compromise on our academic standards for our son?

January 3, 2014

By YOU Program Facilitator

How to compromise with your spouse on setting academic standards for your child.

Question: I have very high standards for my son's academic achievements. My wife is more lenient. I always feel that she’s undermining me when I try to set rules or follow through with consequences. What do we do?

Answer: Even though you and your spouse disagree over your approach to academics, you can still find common ground to start the conversation The new year is the perfect time to strengthen your relationship with your parenting partner by starting out on the same page.

  • Explain your reasons and listen to your spouse’s. Pay attention to hopes and fears that you and your spouse may have for your child. Why do you value academic achievement? What do you hope your son will get out of it? Conversely, is your wife afraid of pressuring him? What does she hope for him?
  • Determine what values are priorities. List out the values you both are trying to instill through each of your approaches. For you, is it hard work and a love of learning? For her, is it an emphasis on managing stress and developing strong social skills?
  • Work together to create a joint approach. Find ways to adjust your original approaches to account for each other’s values. Perhaps it’s encouraging your son to join an academically-focused social club like debate. Perhaps it’s avoiding threats and pressure, but being proactive about making academic support part of your family routine.

Whatever the conclusion of the conversation, remember to communicate with each other and communicate with your son. The more open and honest you all are with each other about your hopes and fears, the better able you are to all support each other and thrive as a family.

For more information about making academic support a priority and addressing difficulties, see the YOU: Your Child's First Teacher book series, specifically pages 50, 60, and 66 in Through Elementary and Middle School.

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