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August 26, 1994 - Image 161

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1994-08-26

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Family Picnic, by Donald Mar-
gulies, brings into stark relief the
question: who controls the money
given to children? In this play
about a hard-working father and
his family, the son, Stewie, is
shocked when his father demands
thecash to help offset the expense
of the extravagant bar mitzvah
party they have just thrown.
It is vital for parents to be clear
about what power a child has over
money, whether it comes to him
through gifts, allowance or earn-
ings. Gifts, by definition, should
have fewer strings attached, and
children deserve to spend some of
the money they have earned to
benefit from their efforts.
However, each parent needs to
set, and discuss with the child, the
limits of parental approval, and
these decisions should be consis-
tent with the family's values. For
example, if Linda gets to keep a
portion of her bat mitzvah mon-
ey, she may have to spend it on-
something other than a TV or a
private telephone for her room if
those conflict with family guide-
lines. When a child follows the
guidelines, parents need to be pre-
pared to respect the child's choice,
although it may not reflect their
own tastes or priorities.
One essential lesson about
money is how to balance spend-
ing and saving. Jeffrey Picker, a
certified public accountant with
Arthur Andersen and Co., says
that requiring a child to save all
of his money doesn't teach him its
value. "Money is a commodity to
be used to acquire things; we must
teach the responsibility of man-
aging money."
Neale Godfrey suggests having
children divide their allowances
into three parts: the first can be
spent right away; the second is
short-term savings for something
special and more expensive; and
the third is long-term savings.
Many variations are possible on
how to save: "The main thing is to
create a system that both you and
your kids lie so that you will stick
to it." And parents need to discuss
what the savings are for: educa-
tion, emergencies, vacations, or
David Arnow points out that
parents often overestimate the
level of their children's under-
standing of many elements of
their adult world, including their
financial commitments. Indeed,
for a variety of reasons, some par-
ents choose to tell their children
nothing about their incomes or
budget, while others share more.
Children need to know that par-
ents' earnings are private family
information, and that parents
have the right to maintain dis-
cretion and set boundaries. Par-
ents should consider why the child
is asking: is it simple curiosity, or
is the child feeling worried and in-
A family budget and a family
standard of spending will teach
responsibility and consistency. ❑

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In the last 40 years, the
death rate from heart
attack has dropped 34%
the death rate from con-
genital heart defects is
down 41%
and the death rate from
stroke, is down 60%.
The American Heart
Association of Michigan
is 40 years old.

American Heart

of Michigan

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