At least some financial topics were off limits when discussing finances with their kids for 74 percent of the parents responding to a T. Rowe Price survey. That echoed findings of the UNC/UT study, where children reported knowing that certain topics, like parental income, family investments and family debt were "off limits," even though those same kids didn't know why their parents didn't want to discuss certain topics.
Parents, for their part, may be reluctant to discuss certain parts of finances because they are embarrassed of their own, past financial mistakes or feel they are poor role models. But that strategy is fraught with pitfalls: kids may feel like they're on their own to figure out money, and will make mistakes. Acknowledge your own shortcomings and get over your hang-ups. Start with the basics: setting aside money for emergencies, saving for bigger purchases and avoiding credit card debt are all financial basics that are easy to teach and easy for kids to understand.