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Should you talk about money in front of the kids?

There used to be one social taboo that parents never dreamed of violating: talking about money in front of the children. It's time for that taboo to be broken.

On one hand, you don't want to burden your children with adult issues -- especially if family finances are in a slump right now. On the other hand, a careful approach to the issue of finances can accomplish some important goals.

Children of wealth and privilege need to understand that maintaining that wealth and privilege takes hard work -- and that they need to be part of that team effort. Otherwise, studies have indicated that children of privilege can suffer from low self-esteem, believing all their successes are because they happen to have wealthy parents.

No matter what your financial means, children need to understand that money isn't some magical thing that just appears in a purse or wallet. They need to understand the concept of money as a limited resource. If they don't, something like the financial changes brought on by divorce can not only take them by surprise -- it can devastate them.

If you and your spouse are heading toward divorce, it is critical to discuss two things with your kids. First, they need to be reassured. Let them know that no matter what, you and your spouse will work together to make sure the kids have a place to live and their needs will be covered. Second, you need to level with them about what financial changes are going to happen -- if it isn't going to be possible to afford martial arts classes or private piano lessons after the divorce, be upfront about it.

While you don't want to involve your children in conflicts over child support, they should have a basic understanding of how it works. A lot of kids (especially teens) think that "child support" is for them, so the check should go to them directly. They don't have the emotional maturity or life experience to realize the support goes to things like the house they live in, the water and electricity they use and the food they eat. Not clarifying that issue can lead to unnecessary resentment.

For more advice on how to handle the issue of child support and understanding how your divorce is going to affect your finances, talk to a Maryland family law attorney.

Source: Kiplinger, "5 Strategies to Keep Your Heirs From Blowing Their Inheritence," accessed Oct. 24, 2017

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