“Sex is when people love each other with their bodies,” I explained to my inquisitive, innocent eight year old when he asked. It was my attempt to sound normal during a remarkable conversation in the kitchen.
Of course we know sex can be anything but simple: “Everything in the world is about sex, except sex”, goes the saying. All grownups know – whether through experience or the stories we tell each other – that sex isn’t just about pleasure or procreation. It might not even have anything to do with love.
As parents we – hopefully – have the talks about sex with our kids, instead of them learning it from playground chat or the internet. It’s just as important that we have the ones about money, too. Not having the conversation is not a great option.
Without pounding the parallels too much, let’s just say both sex and money can be taboo, awkward to talk about, and end up with unwanted outcomes like STDs. (Ever heard of “sexually transmitted debt”, the debt that can come along with a relationship?)
When it comes to the sex conversation, I aim to keep it around love, which needs to stay at the core of it. But what’s at the core of the money talk? “Money is for…?” There are many ways we could answer that.
For my two cents’ worth, I’d say, “Money is for growing wealth, for growing well-being.” Kids probably won’t understand “wealth” or “well-being” just yet, so perhaps just “Money is for growing… Grow it like a tree.”
If there’s one thing I’d want for the children, it’s for a portion of their finances to be growing throughout their lives, continually pushing their net worth upwards.
To keep “growth” on the agenda with our kids, we started by adding a fourth “growing” jar to the traditional three of pocket money: spending, saving, giving. By now we’ve transitioned online, where they can still see their accounts growing gradually over time. Those are long-term investment or entrepreneurial funds, and the rule is they can only grow upwards.
Hopefully one day they’ll thank us. “I’m really glad my dad taught me about KiwiSaver investing and how money compounds… I’ll be set.”
Here’s to all the parents out there, as you navigate the world of talking and teaching the kids about sex and money. (Hopefully those two will never mix, but that may need to be discussed at some stage too!)
“Okay dad, you can shut up now,” said my 13-year-old daughter when I told her I was writing about sex this week. She was far more comfortable telling me about how she was learning about money in her maths class. It was kind of cute.