One-Income Family Struggling With a Daughter Who Wants More

Dear Liz,

My daughter does not get the fact that we are a one-income family, and every time she wants something we have to tell her that we cannot afford it. What is a better way to get her to understand that money is very tight right now, without upsetting her?


Fairfield, AL


Hi in Alabama- thanks for writing in.  These are tough times, fortunately one of you does have a job and the necessities for your family are being met. I don’t know how old your daughter is, but clearly she doesn’t like hearing that she can’t get whatever it is she wants, and so…she gets upset. This is something you want to handle whether you have the money to pay for what she wants or not.

It’s a part of parenting that challenges all of us, but trust me it is  a critical part of the good parenting practice.

            If you feel badly or guilty when you can’t buy her something she senses it, they all do, and it doesn’t help the matter.  You will have a much better result if you can find a way to present the reality of your lives matter of factly confidently and without wavering.  Think of it as a zone you need to find where you report the information without much emotion.  If you notice, money or there lack there of, can send a bag of emotions through you that have nothing really to do with your daughter or the desired item of the moment- so try and separate from your feelings about it and let your daughter see a strong grounded mother putting boundaries where they have to go for now.

            You could also consider having a family meeting about how things are going and ask her to  do her part, which could involve showing restraint by not asking for things.  Try and remind yourself and your daughter about the good fortune of having right now, what you do have and many don’t.  This is something that will implement the kind of parenting that has great results.  Your one income is pushing you to being a better parent to your daughter, and in the end you will be grateful.  Now there’s a silver lining!

Good things for you guys!

  Hang in there.  Liz


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