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Get Your Teen Off the Couch!

Get Off The Couch - Teaching Teens About Money

“Joe’s just not interested in anything!” a parent moaned. “Nothing motivates him, all he wants to do is sit in front of the computer and play video games! Money means nothing to him!”

BINGO!

It’s Time to Teach Teens About Money

It’s the time of year when one of the most common questions we get from parents is how to get kids to care about money. Often the parents want the kid to get a job, but the kid doesn’t see the point.

It’s understandable, right? I mean if I didn’t need money to pay for the things I wanted in life, I probably wouldn’t work either. I’m definitely not the person who wins the lottery and then sticks around to teach other parents how to raise kids who understand money. I’m just giving you fair warning.

Another study was just released that definitively found that helicopter parents are doing their children no favors. None. Helicopter Mom thinks that her attention and tender loving care compensates for the fact that Joe can’t fill out a job application without her help. “Not true,” say the facts. But really, does this surprise any of us?

The sad truth is Joe and his couch-riding buddies aren’t interested or motivated by money because they’ve never needed to be. Heck, they’ve never really needed ANYTHING in their whole lives. Mom and Dad have been paying the way for years-and it’s time for them to stop. It’s time for YOU to stop.

“Now wait just a cotton pickin’ minute!” (I can hear the protests from here). “Just because I pay for my teenager’s clothing, shoes and activities doesn’t mean I’m a helicopter parent. I am NOT one of THOSE crazy parents. I just want to make sure he has what he needs.”

Oh really?

Let’s think about this.

When your kids move out on their own, will they still be hitting you up for cash to go to the movies? Will they have to come to you for funds to buy food? How about a new pair of jeans?

When exactly will you stop paying for their expenses?

Do you even know?

Preparing Teens for Life After the Helicopter

There are many different types of helicopter parents. Some hover over every single thing their children do. They attend college classes with their kids and intervene on their behalf when they apply for jobs. As funny as this sounds, I’ve been at meetings with college admissions counselors where they say this is sadly true. Heck, I don’t think my parents even knew what I was majoring in during college! Let’s check it out – Mom, I know you read this blog. Comment below if you know what my major was is school. Bonus points if you can list all of the different schools I went to before getting my degree.

So we’re all familiar with THOSE helicopter parents (and we can agree most of our moms weren’t one of them). None of us are THAT type of parent, right? But there are other types of helicopter parents as well. These parents want to make sure that their kids get to experience every little thing they want as kids without concern for resources or expense. Hockey lesson with private coaches that require home equity loans, gymnastics leagues that require mom to have two jobs – you know what I mean.

Think about what this does to a kid: They move out on their own for the first time. Suddenly, not only are all of the things they relied on to occupy their time gone, they are also faced with a host of new and unfamiliar situations: roommates, paying bills, buying food, getting to work on time, finding transportation, cooking, doing their own laundry and buying insurance. What a shock to the system!

Wouldn’t it be much kinder to help kids start to manage these things much earlier in life, while they are living with you and can look to you for guidance?

But here’s the thing — kids don’t know what they don’t know. They are not going to come to you and ask if they can start doing their own laundry. They aren’t going to suggest that maybe private lessons aren’t necessary or point out that they probably won’t ever be a professional hockey player. They aren’t going to volunteer to buy their own clothing.

And they certainly won’t get up from the couch and get a job unless they realize that they need the money to start buying the things that they want. Maybe it’s video games, maybe it’s nights out with friends, or maybe it’s a new wardrobe for fall. If you need some ideas to get started, you may want to check out our free cheatsheet on Setting Up the Perfect Allowance for your kids.

You are the parent. Only you can teach these things to your kids: To equip them with the skills they will need to be a successful adult. Sure, you can put it off a few more years, assuming your plan is to give them a nervous breakdown as soon as they leave home. I mean it is good to feel needed, right?

Failure to teach teens about money is no less important than teaching them to read, to write or to ride a bike. It’s up to you to land the helicopter and get your kids to take some responsibility for themselves.

It’s the only way they’ll ever succeed.

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  • Clever Dude

    My wife has some helicopter mom in her…..she needs him to text whenever he goes somewhere, questions everything he does, and rides him about his grades every day. for the most part it helps him stay on track…..but we have some “discussions” occasionally regarding the need to let him figure some things out on his own.

    • I can relate. I often have to remind myself that our oldest will be on his own in one short year and while we’ve done a good job preparing him, there are still things he has to work out on his own. He had a great lesson last week when he had move things in his schedule around to attend a doctor’s appt on his own and then was turned away when he showed up 10 minutes late. I was so glad I hadn’t been around to remind him to get moving!