My Teenager is Financially Oblivious

Readers Question:

 I have a teenager who is now driving. Some parents are giving their kids new cars and a full-ride during high school. Meaning… spending money, date money, gas, car insurance, sports, cell phones, et cetera… I think this is preposterous. What are they going to learn from this? Many young people today come with a huge sense of entitlement. They will not learn how to be responsible in college if they go in with blinders on. We can easily afford our sons habits, but my husband and I do not agree on this issue. I want him to grow up and learn some financial responsibility and my husband thinks he should enjoy this time being a kid. I know you have a teenager. What do you make him pay for monthly? Any advice for us on this hot topic?

I feel your pain here. This is a tricky topic to cover and I don’t think there is anyone answer that works. Every kid is different and every family’s financial status is different, so what works well for one could be impossible for another.

I one hundred percent agree that kids today have major entitlement issues, which are generally learned behaviors, so you are absolutely right to want to stop and take some time to review your parenting policies.

Just like we try to hold our children accountable, we must hold ourselves accountable as well.

I am guessing your kid is 16-17 years old, therefore he is no longer a kid! He is a young adult. He needs to learn valuable life lessons now, while they won’t ruin or negatively affect his life moving forward. The sooner this perspective is shared by your husband, the better.

College is only 2-3 years away at this point. Your son needs to know how to “adult up” (I don’t use “man up” because young ladies are included here) and take care of himself in every aspect of life. He will probably just expect you and Dad to take care of things otherwise. And seriously, what parent wants that? A large part of being a good parent is enabling kids to be competent and responsible humans. We owe this to society and it means they will most likely never move back into your house when they are older! Everyone wins.

During high school, parents are generally focused on grades and teens on their social life. It is important for parents to be realistic when settling ground rules for financial responsibilities in high school. A lot of these ground rules should be determined by your teen’s needs. i.e. what areas does his character need improvement? Is he taking advantage of certain things? Is he too busy with school or sports to work part-time? Can he do chores around the house to earn spending money?

We aren’t making them pay for their life because of a tight budget, we are making them pay for their life because they should be familiar with some of the hardships and tough decisions they will encounter very soon and very often. We are working on mental preparation and competence.

If parents can give their teens a taste of real life here and there, it will give young adults the confidence to tackle their own issues as they grow. They will be confident when encountering problems and handle them… or they will be scared and ignore them.

You have to sit down with your husband and decide together what you think is fair and realistic for your family.

 Maybe start by reviewing the cost of your teen’s current privileges. Add up a month of cell phone, insurance, gas, et cetera. Take that to your husband first. Decide on what a fair percentage is for your son to cover. Discuss if he should get a job or can earn money at home. Then take that information/decision to your son and lay it all out.

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