Is it any wonder why whenever you see someone acting like a teenager you sometimes shake your head? It’s “not that there’s anything wrong with that” as Seinfeld famously said, that is as long as the actions you’re observing are actually being done by a teenager. After all, most teens have very few hardcore responsibilities and so they act like children often do, without much thought and care. That’s especially true when it comes to money and that’s fine when you’re 15, 16, or even 18. But there’s a reason why behaving that way with money is only allowed when you are actually a teenager! And so it is important to teach teenagers about money.
When I Was a Child I Spoke as a Child…
I am not especially religious, but here I need to point out that even the Bible (1 Corinthians 13:11) talks about when being a child, we all act like them. And so by inference here we can take the leap that when you are grown up, you should begin to act like an adult. But what does that really mean?
You can only act like an adult if you understand what an adult does when it comes to being and acting responsibly. This is so big and important in almost every area of life, but what I am talking about in this post is being financially responsible.
Today, with all of the turmoil we see with the money pressures in our lives, is it any wonder that your children may be confused or, even worse, irresponsible with money?
Sometimes, we as parents actually aid a child in being irresponsible and then we stew about their childish behaviors when we see them. How does that make any sense and how does that happen?
It’s Great to Be Young and Carefree
It’s always OK to be a kid when you are one, let me make that clear. The problems arise, however, when we want and expect our kids to become responsible adults and we haven’t given them much, if any, foundation to build that on.
I know I was very guilty of that and I am betting most of us are, to some greater or lesser degree. We seem to always want to make excuses for our children and try to fix whatever they have broken. When we do that, we make our children more likely to repeat their mistakes because they know mommy and daddy will bail them out.
Bailing a young adult out of financial trouble is admirable, but it doesn’t teach them very much, except one thing: They have a solid back-up plan and that is you! If you don’t want to teach your children to rely on you forever, be sure you teach teenagers about money.
The Educational Money Plan or…the Lack of One
I have written about teaching your child good money habits when they are small and trying to include them in the family budget planning even when they may not fully understand every detail. In doing that, at the very least they learn the fact that there is no endless money stream that you have and that getting control over money issues takes planning and care.
It’s pretty much a given today that even in our public schools, you still can’t get that kind of education. And so, it depends on you to teach your children about it. Do you?
The “I Want It, I Want It, I Want It” Mentality
Every kid I have ever known has cried out the mantra above and has done it way more times than I can count. The sad fact is that many adults do it too and that sometimes is why they get buried deep in debt and many never recover. You simply can’t get everything you want in life just by presenting your credit card and saying “la la la la la” when the bills come rolling in. You just can’t succeed that way.
What Can You Do to Create Responsible Adults Out of Irresponsible Children?
You don’t need your teen to be a perfect kid, but you do need them to be ready for the realities of adulthood. To best prepare your teen for the future, it’s important to offer a balance between giving enough guidance and allowing for enough freedom.
How to Teach Teenagers About Money
Here are three ways you can try to educate your teenager about being more financially responsible!
- Talk to your teenager about the fact that we all make mistakes sometimes. Owning up to those mistakes shows responsibility. Tell your teen that when they try to cover up mistakes by ignoring them—or worse, lying about them—it shows that they aren’t ready to handle responsibilities.
- Teach them to earn their money. Doing chores to earn money (even when they are young) shows responsibility. But going above and beyond regular household chores is a great way for your teen to become even more independent.
Why not do things in the neighborhood like cutting grass, babysitting, or shoveling snow? There are many jobs your teenager can do.
Teach your teen to give to the community in some way. Volunteering at an animal shelter, participating in community clean-up efforts, or fundraising for a good cause can help your teen feel and become more responsible, all of which will encourage them to behave more responsibly and see the true value of money.
- Talk about consequences. There will be times when your teenager will make mistakes (or even purposely break your rules). Make sure that their poor choices lead to some kind of negative logical consequence like the loss of privileges.
Resist the urge to make excuses or rescue your teen from their mistakes. Natural consequences can serve as the best reminders to make better choices next time.
It’s difficult to watch your child grow up and realize that they won’t be your little baby forever. I know that because even at my current age, 72, my 40-something and 30-something children are still making teenage mistakes and depending on mommy and daddy to bail them out.
I guess you might say from that, you should do as I say and not as I did. It’s mighty painful for all of the parties here to admit that fact, but take it as a warning and a lesson that I have learned the hard way.
You’re doing your teen a disservice if you don’t instill a sense of financial (and in fact all kinds of) responsibility in them. Teach teenagers about money, because if you don’t, who will? In the long run, your teen will thank you for turning them into a responsible, independent adult or…at least that’s what I have heard.
Are you actively teaching your kids to be responsible adults? What lessons can you share about your kids and being responsible, especially when it comes to finances and money? Is being responsible a conscious thought with you and your kids?