Thursday, September 25, 2008

Shut up, he explained

To coin a phrase. Post columnist Susan Greene on how to talk to your kids about the financial crisis:
"Mom, what's a bailout?"

This from my 5-year-old first thing Tuesday morning.

As if Hurricane Ike weren't tough enough to explain, now come questions about a financial crisis that I find myself straining to answer.
Hurricane Ike? That's easy: hit the kid with a big tree branch (or, if that's not handy, a car fender or a cow) while you hold the tyke underwater in a bathtub or kiddie pool. That'll learn him.
So I turned to the experts.
Oh, God.
"We're saying this is a monumental change in the economy that's about a credit crunch where banks are tightening standards so that average people and even banks can't get credit to meet demands. And if people can't get credit to spend, the whole thing shuts down," explained Young Americans president Rich Martinez in a riff I'm pretty sure my preschoolers wouldn't understand.
Stupid preschoolers. Is that bathtub filled yet?
Jim Fay, a Golden-based parenting expert, offered easier advice:

"Keep it really, really simple," said Fay, author of the recent book, "Millionaire Babies or Bankrupt Brats? Love and Logic Solutions to Teaching Kids About Money." "I would talk about how banks and government made a bunch of mistakes that have made it hard for the rest of us [Stupid banks. Stupid government.]. And then I would say we all need to do our part to fix the problem at home."
Or at the local textile factory. Bye, kiddies! See you in 16 hours!
Too often, money talk is considered taboo with kids.

"We speak with them about sex and drugs. But we don't talk about mortgages or debt," said Martinez, who shares with his 9-year-old details about his income, the family's house payments and other expenses.
More fun than a visit from a clown!
And there's another reason for openness . . . .

Whether or not they grasp the weight of a $700 billion bailout, our kids, their kids and maybe even their kids' kids will have to pay for it. We owe them an honest explanation for why universal health care and meaningful educational reform suddenly have fallen from the top of the nation's priority list.
Great, now we have to explain univeral health care to the illiterate little bastards. What a maroonette.

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