Spare the knowledge, spoil the child: Americans love spending money on their children, but aren’t as eager to talk to them about it.

According to a survey from fund company T. Rowe Price, 46 percent of parents have gone into debt to cover something their kids wanted, and 57 percent say they spend too much on things their kids do not need.

Most of the children, 57 percent, told surveyors that they have come to expect that their parents will buy them what they want.

Parents are also dipping into their savings to fund their children’s needs — 55 percent of parents have used their emergency fund to cover non-emergencies like day-to-day expenses, debt servicing, childcare and education. Perhaps that is a contributing factor to their lack of savings: 72 percent of the respondents didn’t have an emergency fund sufficient to cover three months worth of living expenses, and 49 percent didn’t have emergency savings at all.

T. Rowe Price says that parents are also using retirement savings to fund non-emergencies, with 44 percent of respondents reporting they had used retirement funds for expenses like paying off debt, vacation, education and day-to-day expenses, while 37 percent report using their nest egg for emergency expenses like health-care costs, home repair, car purchase or repair, or taxes.

Two-thirds of the parents, 67 percent, said that saving for their kids’ college education was more important than saving for retirement.

At the same time, less than half of the parents, 44 percent, reported that they take advantage of the opportunity to discuss financial topics with their children most of the time.

Money seemed to be an awkward subject for many of the respondents, 71 percent of the parents said they were at least somewhat reluctant to discuss financial finances. Many parents reported a reluctance to discuss finances with each other — 41 percent said they kept financial secrets from their spouse or partner.

The survey also found that kids who discussed financial topics with their parents at least twice a month were more likely to say they were smart about money than kids who did not talk money with their families, 68 percent to 36 percent respectively.

According to T. Rowe Price, parents with children of both genders were more likely to discuss money with boys than with girls, but the difference was slim, 30 percent to 24 percent. When asked why, the respondents said that boys needed more help with money than girls. A greater proportion of parents, 46 percent, said there was no difference in the amount of financial discussion they had with their sons and daughters.

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