Explaining economic disparities to children
What is the best response to little Jimmy when he wonders why his friend Arthur’s bike is fancier than his, or his holidays more exciting, or hockey gear newer?
Before you do anything, reassure your child by explaining that it isn’t because you aren’t as hardworking as Arthur’s folks that you don’t have the same financial means. It’s more a matter of profession and circumstance.
The value of work
Discuss different professions with your child and explain the different roles they have in society. Make him see that it takes all kinds of work to make up a community and they are all important in different ways.
Explain how jobs are related. Without a plumber to repair the broken waterpipe at the hospital, the surgeon wouldn’t be able to operate on his patients. One depends on the other.
Talk to your children about situations that affect them personally or that may influence their quality of life. For example, the link between biologists and environmentalists and the condition of the lake where they like to swim in summer.
Make sure your children understand that different types of jobs have a direct impact on the salary. Jobs that require years of study, university training for instance, are often better paid than jobs that require only a high school diploma.
Explain that salary also has a lot to do with a person’s experience. Those who are just starting out aren’t going to earn the same wages as someone with years of experience.
Supply and demand can also affect how much a job is worth. The rarer the skills the more they are worth and will play to the person’s advantage when looking for a job.
An employer’s wage policies and the employee benefits they offer will also factor in to the overall income.
Last but not least, the state of the economy may have a positive effect on salary if the economy is doing well and not so good during hard economic times.
And then there’s family money
Some families may be better off because of money they receive from their parents or grandparents. Many seniors choose to give their money to help out their loved ones during their lifetime rather than making them wait until they’re gone.
And inherited money? It is possible that Arthur’s parents received an inheritance and from one day to the next they can enjoy a windfall that provides a boost to family finances. And spoil their children a little more.
Adapt the conversation to the child’s age and to what is really on his mind. Make your child understand that when his turn comes, it will be up to him to choose a profession he will enjoy and enable him to enjoy challenges that fuel his ambition and make him happy. A career lasts roughly 40 years. It’s worth choosing something you like.