“Mummy, is it Buhari’s fault that the economy is bad?” My daughter asked me this when she returned from school one day. She’s referring to Muhammadu Buhari, the president of Nigeria. “You must always call him President Buhari,” I corrected my daughter. Then I realised this was another opportunity to educate my daughter about economy and finances.
I told her it’s not President Buhari’s fault that the economy is bad, rather it is the choices we made as a country. I told her Nigeria is like a big family. Imagine that the father had a big job and they paid him a very good salary. In this family, perhaps the mother chose not to work because the father’s salary was so good. The family lived well, and often traveled abroad for holidays, wearing designer clothes. Everything they did was expensive. They had huge parties all the time. Their children went to expensive schools and they go abroad for treatment even for a simple headache.
The father earned well, but did not save anything and sometimes borrowed even more money to maintain their extravagant lifestyle. At one time some family members started stealing the money for their own personal enjoyment. They stole this money right out of the family account.
One day the company the father worked for was no longer able pay the father his big salary, so they gave him a pay cut. Remember, the father did not save when he was earning a high income. Remember, the family led a very expensive lifestyle. Remember, the mother had no job, so she couldn’t support the family. So, there was problem.
Eventually, a new father was brought in and the salary was reduced further and further. The family still had no savings and money was still being stolen from the family account. The new father found it difficult to support that expensive lifestyle the family was accustomed to. In this case, there would be economic problems and it wouldn’t necessarily be the father’s fault. In the meantime, the father must still deal with the people who stole from the family account, and try to recover the money.
“Do you understand now?” I asked. “Yes, I do,” said my daughter, and she went away, satisfied.
Our children know something is wrong and we need to explain to them what is going on. At a school meeting recently, I overheard a parent wondering how can she tell her child they can’t afford to pay school fees? I told them as parents you need to financially educate your children. This is not done in school, so it’s the parent’s duty to ensure that children are aware of economy and finances.
My children are part of our family’s economic life. They know what’s going on in our businesses and their father’s job. They know when things are good that we are investing, and they know why we invest. They know where the money for their school fees is coming from and what sacrifices were made to make ends meet. When business is bad, they know. At one time I thought we couldn’t pay my daughter’s school fees and I told her she had to delay a week or more before starting school (we always pay school fees before resumption date. It’s my personal stand). Luckily we managed to pay on time, but she learned that it’s a possibility and understands life sometimes throws a spanner into the works.
When we joined my husband in Abuja in 2011, my children’s school fees were fifty times higher than what we were used to paying. I had to sit my children down to explain that we needed to make sacrifices for their education. One of the decisions we made as a family was to reduce travelling abroad for holidays. So we did, and my children understood why.
In December, my daughter went to Europe for her school’s annual ski trip. She noted that there were a lot fewer students on the trip than previous years. My daughter also went to Wales this month for the Duke of Edinburgh expedition. Similarly, not all the students participating in the Duke of Edinburgh programme went for the expedition. I had to explain to her there was economic downturn and it was not easy for all families to afford such trips. At the moment, we are seriously worried about paying for education because our currency was losing value. She gave me a worried look and said, “God willing, everything will be okay.” “Amen,” I replied.
My daughter left the house a better-informed child. I hope that when she becomes an adult, she will be better prepared for economic and financial challenges because she learned about it as a child. As parents, we cannot shield our children from the reality of life. Let them learn from us and be more financially savvy.
How do you ensure that your children get a good understanding of your family finances?
This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Aisha Yesufu in Nigeria.
Photo credit: Bob Ryskamp / Flickr
In the U.S., I find myself sometimes avoiding conflict in social situations. My kids…well, not so much…
“You can’t take that, it’s mine!!!” Or…
“She is writing on the kitchen table!”, while my girls battle for a crayon. Or…
“If you knock over my blocks, I’m telling!”, while just seconds later, my little one knocks the blocks with a cheeky grin. Or…
This is the reality now with a 7 and 3 year old, but I’m predicting that when they’re teenagers that they will rebel in the same way I did. Fight with their parents for a later curfew. Disagree with their mom because they want to wear a strapless dress to the eighth grade dance. Insist that they’re dating whoever they want. I hope their outspoken fire to challenge society will grow into and beyond their teenage years. I didn’t say that I am prepared for it, but I can accept that it is coming…I think.
But, as adults, it seems many of us tend to harden and lose that fire over time. The fire that ignited our teenage passions to think in a different way. The fire that kept us learning to support our own stance, for what is right. Going with the flow just feels more comfortable sometimes, especially when big odds are not at stake.
But, at the World Bank and IMF Civil Society meetings last week, big odds — which impact the lives of the world’s people and often the most vulnerable among us — were at stake. I witnessed change-makers taking a stand for the greater good. Here are some people who are carving out the new, more responsible way forward for the World Bank, IMF and beyond…
Jessica Evans of the Human Rights Watch challenged World Bank officials on incorporating human rights into new banking safeguards. She said that in the past the World Bank didn’t touch corruption because the institution wasn’t supposed to engage in politics according to its policy of the past, but now fighting corruption is fair game and a larger part of the World Bank’s mission. She pointed out this ability for the bank to change in a positive way on corruption, but its failure to do the same considering human rights.
She (Jessica Evans of the Human Rights Watch) claimed that human rights should not fall into the ‘political’ category. They are a necessity for responsible lending practices and should be incorporated into the current safeguards as they are being rewritten now, not as an afterthought a year later when they will be completed.
Jessica Evans of the Human Rights Watch speaks about the importance of human rights on a World Bank Civil Society Meeting in Washington, DC. October 7th, 2014.
To my surprise, I also had the chance to reconnect with a fellow Villanova University alum, Joseph Robertson, now Strategic Director of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby. He questioned Dr. Kim, President of the World Bank, and Mme. Lagarde, President of the IMF, on carbon pricing during the Civil Society Town Hall. Joe is championing a coalition called Pathway to Paris, which is seeking to mount a global coalition effort “to secure an agreement to motivate carbon pricing country by country.”
Joseph Robertson of Citizens Climate Action, questions World Bank President Dr. Kim and IMF President Mme. Lagarde on carbon pricing.
I also met the bold, Faith Nwadishi, Executive Director at the Koyenum Immalah Foundation, who had come so many miles — from Nigeria — to Washington, DC to put pressure on organizations to come together in the fight against Ebola in West Africa. Faith had no qualms about later taking the spot right next to Dr. Kim during the Town Hall. I was inspired by her energy!
Faith Nwadishi came all the way from Nigeria for the World Bank’s Civil Society Meetings in Washington, DC. Pictured here with Jennifer Burden of World Moms Blog on October 8th, 2014.
And, I could have listened to Patrick from the Congo speak for days. He’s a 28-year old masters student (his second, this one in international development). Patrick is enacting change at home through an organization he founded that educates both, women and men, on rape prevention in Congo. He sees his little sister within every woman in his home country and is dedicated to making Congo a safer place for women.
World Mom and RESULTS Board Member, Cindy Levin, talks with graduate student and change maker Patrick from Congo at the reception following the World Bank and IMF Civil Society Town Hall. October 8th, 2014.
There is no doubt the World Bank and IMF’s lending practices of the past have negatively affected civil society. And there is no doubt that the organization in the past had closed their doors to the voices of those very same people.
But, the cultural shift at the World Bank Civil Society Meetings is one that encourages change makers to join them in debate, intellectualism, passion, heated discussions and a lot of heart, which are all clearly the silver lining from the bank’s closed door past.
The current bank President, Dr. Jim Yong Kim is even a former bank protester, which is an indicator on how the tide is turning.
It is time for the world to listen to the likes of Jessica Evans, Joseph Robertson, Faith Nwadishi, Patrick and many more change makers around the world. They are the kind of people that will press and lead the World Bank toward it’s goal to end poverty. You can join them, too…what are you waiting for?
This is an original post by World Moms Blog founder, Jennifer Burden in New Jersey, USA. Jennifer and Cindy Levin of Missouri, USA were invited by the World Bank to take part in the bank’s Civil Society Meetings in Washington, DC. See additional posts by Cindy Levin about their experience on her blog, Anti-Poverty Mom:
Keeping It Civil at the World Bank
A Different View of Citizen Engagement at the World Bank
A New Course for the Big Ship of the World Bank
Photo credits to the author and Cindy Levin.