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Gerardo Castillo Ceballos, Professor of the School of Education and Psychology

An educational gap: the use of money

Mon, 10 Apr 2017 12:00:00 +0000 Published in AltoAragón Newspaper

It is very surprising that in the topic of money, in which both children and parents are frequently making decisions, there is no pedagogical rules and regulations . Let's look at three frequent problematic situations that denote this educational omission:

1-The child gets his parents to buy him what he sees on TV commercials, even if it is the most expensive thing. 2-The child's "allowance" does not last in his pocket; he is incapable of postponing a purchase and saving. 3-In his eagerness to have more money for expensive whims, he bets online from his mobile.

Behind these behaviors is the influence of a consumerist environment that puts happiness in having more and more things, which requires earning as much money as possible for an easy and quick procedure . Many adults today are transmitting to young people more the ambition to be rich in the short term deadline than the passion for being a cultured and honest person.

A humorous cartoon in Faro features this dialogue between a teenager and his father (the latter is poorly dressed):

-Dad, if you don't buy me the Iphone, I'm going to go into a world of frustration.


The current cult of money, which influences children so much, is related to a phenomenon that the philosopher Jesús Arellano calls reified existence: "it arises when the person is reduced to a thing; that is what the term "porn" means in Greek, the treatment of people as things. The reified man considers only his tastes and pleasures, and reduces them to money. He hides behind all that.

Our children are growing up in a social context in which their references tend to be the idealized characters who have earned their first million euros before the age of thirty. In some of these cases they admire skill for having achieved it with little effort. An example: the owner of a used car sales business who cheats his customers by changing the mileage would be "smart", while an honest "mileurista" worker who works ten hours a day would be a "pringao".

The figure of the rogue is making a comeback, but without the original motives and "greatness". They used to be "poor devils", anti-heroes belonging to a very low social stratum who simply tried to eat every day by using (badly) their wits. In contrast, today's rogue is a white-collar criminal who does not need to have wits and who is driven not by hunger, but by greed. The picaresque of Lazarillo de Tormes is an innocent game compared to that of a corrupt person.

Christiane Collange, a French journalist, mentions her teenage children's roguery to get money from their parents:

  1. The oft-repeated "do you have twenty euros?" syndrome.

  2. Inventing debts for parents to pay.

  3. Borrowing "loans" from parents without the purpose to pay them back.

  4. Asking for money for something necessary and diverting it to some whim.

It is urgent to educate children to prevent inappropriate behavior, but also to use money as a means educational for the development of some human virtues. The good use of money can make adolescents more responsible, patient, supportive and generous. Nowadays it is very necessary to teach them the virtue of honesty. To this end, I suggest taking advantage of the opportunities that arise to talk to children about this virtue, such as the following three, for example:

1. The press reports that a person found a wallet with a lot of money in it and then returned it, despite being in great need. 2. We discover that a son cheats at gambling. 3. After a quarrel with his brother, a boy admits that it was his fault and asks for forgiveness.

A basic goal in the economic Education of children is that they learn to manage their pocket money: that they spend only what is necessary; that they do not buy compulsively; that they value different offers and compare prices before buying.

The parental allowance should be fixed. The regular "allowance" is often the first experience of financial independence. They will learn that money is not unlimited, that you only have a certain amount each time, that you can't buy everything you want.

From a certain age, it is advisable that parents inform their children about the family budget , so that they value more what they receive and are not capricious. It is also very formative for children to visit environments with people who are having a hard time and to have charitable details with them (elderly people in nursing homes, children in orphanages, homeless people or in shelters, etc.).

The most effective factor is parental example. "Long is the way with precepts; short and effective with examples" (Seneca).