The teenage years can be exhausting for parents and dealing with the rollercoaster of emotions can leave many of us feeling worn down and let down, as all lines of communication waver with the slamming of doors and monosyllabic responses.
Teenagers, of course, have little or no control over the surging hormones that create these swings and as parents it can be difficult to know how to deal with them.
A constant source of dispute between parents and teens is our good friend money.
With growing independence, the endless social events and fashion must have’s, it can seem that the weekly allowance barely lasts two days-and that’s assuming there is a weekly allowance. So how do we talk to teenagers about money?
The teen years are all about identity and independence, learning who you are as a young person and learning to stand on your own two feet, but all this comes with a physical price and who should pay for what?
The last thing any teenager is going to respond to is a lecture about money (who hasn’t been there?!) but there are ways that we as parents can use situations to build in some positive lessons about prioritising, budgeting and earning.
A case in point my son, who has just turned 16, asked if he could go to America to visit his friend of 12 years who had recently moved there. Aside from my first instinct which was to lock the doors, barr the windows and never let him out of my sight (flying across the Atlantic on your own own-really? but you’re only 16?!). My second thought was right, how are we going to manage this one? Of course I wanted him to go and have a great time with his friend but having two other children it wouldn’t be fair to simply pay for the flight, nor did I feel I should.
Several debates ensued (naturally), how to afford it? Who should save the money and who should give it? Needless to say (and to spare the monologue), we worked out a deal.
Thomas got himself a weekend job to earn some money and I said I would pay a proportion of the flight costs. Not to say this was easy, there were many occasions over the months when paintballing or other activities had to be shelved in lieu of saving for the flight, which didn’t always go down well but we got there in the end!
Ultimately the process taught Thomas that he had to prioritise, he had set his goal and importantly he had to commit to the responsibility of paying for half of his flight. This meant making some sacrifices over the months, not always popular, but he learnt and has taken that experience with him. Next on the list are the driving lessons!
So, whether it’s you as the parent subsidising your child or whether they’ve got a part time job (or a mixture of both), there are ways in which you can ease the pressure and perhaps reduce the conflict in your household – at least when it comes back to money.
Try your best to talk about things (without shouting!) and practice makes perfect, in the case of Thomas it was going through the process of saving and getting to the end result that made the real impact – that being his trip to Washington DC!