I live in a county with exclusively mail-in voting procedures. As I prepare to cast my ballot for our next leader, I’m reminded how sad this makes me as a parent.

I remember election days when I was growing up. My parents would take me and my sister to our elementary school. There was always some sort of bake sale going on and we would run into all of our friends who were there with their parents. Adults would stop and chat while kids ate homemade cookies. Voting wasn’t just something that my parents did – it was something that EVERYONE did. I’ve long associated election night with my community.

Now, as I try to instill in my young children the necessity of participating in our democratic process, I’m at a loss of how to fully demonstrate it. If all of us mail our ballots, will our children grow up with the same positive emotions of voting that we did?

I understand the need and the benefit of remote service access, but sometimes I worry about the long term consequences of parents doing things without their children watching.

This thought struck me about credit unions several years ago when I attended a teen focus group facilitated by Denise Wymore. The young adults all said they chose their financial institution based on where their parents did their banking.

It occurred to me that credit unions are at a distinct disadvantage. If credit unions have been onsite at employer’s for the past five decades, then kids coming of age today do not have the shared experience of going to the credit union with their parents (because their parents probably did their banking during work hours while kids were at school). If parents had to run an errand on the weekend, then they went to the bank with kids in tow. I’ve never seen a study of it, but I bet most young adults have memories of bank visits with mom, but not credit union visits.

Now, with Home Banking and ATMs, it would not surprise me if kids NEVER went to a bank or a credit union with mom or dad. This actually concerns me. How will young people know where and how to do their banking? Many studies indicate that check cashing places thrive because people are intimidated by banks.

I remember the first time I went to a bank. I was 18, going to UW and I went to that big old Seafirst on the Ave. I walked in and just about had a panic attack. Where do I go? What line do I stand in? Ack!

I can understand how young people might not want to deal with that if they’ve never been taught. And exactly how do you teach a child to do banking if you don’t take them with you?

The same goes for paying your bills. I remember my mom would sit down at the kitchen table, pull back the table cloth and lay out all of the bills. She’d have her brown check book, her roll of stamps and silver pen.

While I never managed to learn how to balance my checkbook through osmosis, I did develop a sense that finances are to be taken seriously and should be dealt with methodically and consistently. I wonder if I would have learned those same values if my mom had access to Bill Payer?

If you are a parent, please give some thought to these things that you do that your children may not witness.

When you select your candidate for president, talk to your child about the electoral process (and if you can explain super delegates, please let me know!).

Bring your children into the branch once in awhile when you do your credit union business. We have a Kitty Club account we would love to introduce them to. We have candy and stickers for them and some of our branches have play stations.

Even if you use Bill Payer to pay your bills, try to do so within proximity of your children. Let them witness the commitment you have to financial stability. Better yet, let them eavesdrop on you and your spouse when you discuss financial matters. That will help them see how smart financial decisions are made.

There are a lot of things we can do on our lunch hour these days – vote, bank, pay bills , even discuss finances via email with our partners – but just because it may be easier, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better for our families. These are all important things we want our children to do when they grow up. Figure out a way that your children can watch you and learn by example.

Now go vote.

Shari Storm

No biography available.

2 Responses

  1. WRH says:

    How provocative. My early memories of going to the bank were when my parents would take me to the Rainier Beach Seafirst branch and the teller would write in my passbook the amount of interest that I had earned on my savings account. I felt rich.

  2. @WRH says:

    I remember the teller’s writing in my passbook too! We would always bug my mom to go to the “round bank” because they gave out suckers. The bank was actually round with floor to ceiling windows.

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