Raising teens is hard. They’re not going to learn self-reliance unless they’re given some freedom – but how much freedom is too much? We have fears (and sometimes the hope) that we’ll give them some of the freedom they’re looking for, and they’ll just mess it up, and come back to us for advice.
It may appear that we really trust our kids, but like most parents, we’re still reluctant to give away a lot of responsibility, even though there’s no reason for us to believe that they’re going to mess it up.
What can teens do if we start giving them more financial responsibility, and encouragement to go along with it? When’s the last time you went out of our way to give your teen more responsibility than she probably needs, just to see how much she could accomplish on her own?
We give our teens a big role in managing their own finances. They have a lot of money to keep track of each month, and we count on them to keep an eye on the calendar to know what’s coming up. Sometimes they miss a big event or registration, but they’ve become very adept at balancing their budgets by moving funds around, or by finding new sources of income to fill the gaps.
We didn’t know whether or not our kids would be able to handle all any of this when we started. So… we just started. We gave them a shot. And, by and large, they succeeded at whatever we set out for them. Sometimes with a bit of a hitch, but never anything too extreme. It was really awesome when we laid out for them some stretch goals, and saw them rise to the challenge. And now it’s a huge burden lifted off our shoulders, and onto theirs. They’re learning from it, and we stress less. Win-win!
If you have kids that are experts at making bad choices, of course you’ll want to hold back on giving them wide swaths of newfound freedom. But if they’ve been pretty good lately at managing their financial responsibilities, consider that what they might really need is a big dose of freedom, to show that they can accomplish more than you’re giving them credit for.
What new freedoms could you give your teen, that you probably don’t need to be holding back? And how good are you going to feel if she aces this financial responsibility test?