Teaching Teens Financial Responsibility: What Should They Have to Pay For?

The annual cost for the average couple to raise a 14-year-old in 2012 was $17,730, according to the USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. It cost $18,380 to raise a 17-year old that same year, and in a house with two teenagers and a 12-year-old, the annual cost to raise all three children rose to $33,590. How much of this financial load should teenagers be asked to bear? If you’re raising one or more teens old enough to work or drive, you might be wondering which expenses they should start paying for themselves. Here’s a guide to get you started.

Build on Your Budget

Approach your children’s budget as a reflection of your overall household budget. Financial advisor Elizabeth Warren advocates following a 50/30/20 budgeting policy: Each month, allocate 50 percent of your income to necessary expenses, 30 percent to discretionary spending and 20 percent to savings and debt reduction.

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Talking about Death + Teen Drivers

Joseph Primo, author of What Do We Tell the Children?
Topic:
Talking to kids about death and dying.
Issues: Learning to help kids deal with the “how” and “why” of death and loss; the importance of honest communication; giving kids coping skills they’ll be able to use throughout their lives.

Tim Hollister, author of Not So Fast.
Topic:
Parenting your teen through the dangers of driving
Issues: How brain development affects driving; what driver’s ed doesn’t produce safe drivers; how and why to prepare a “flight plan” for each drive before handing over the keys; how an when to say no.

Teen Girls and Dating? Uh, Not While I’m Still Breathing

Dear Mr. Dad, My 14-year-old daughter is obsessed with the idea that she needs to start dating. She says “all of her friends” are doing it, and feels left out. Fourteen just seems too young. I don’t think anyone—boy or girl—should start ‘til at least 16. I want to tell her “over my dead body” but I also don’t want to be that dad. What can I do?

A: As the father of three daughters—two of whom made it through their teen years without getting pregnant (the third is only 10 and I’m confident she’ll do the same)—I feel your pain. The very idea of your little girl, alone with a … boy, can bring up all sorts of emotions, headlined by anger (“Boys that age have only one thing on their mind”) and worry (How can I possibly protect her?”).

Let’s start with the “only-one-thing-on-their-mind” idea. Do you really believe that? TV, movies, and the Internet put a lot of pressure on teens to have as much sex as they can as often as they can, with as many different people as possible. But the reality is that the majority of boys your daughter’s age are petrified of girls, and what’s most likely on their mind is, “I’m hungry.”

As far as the “how-can-I-protect-her” idea, you have two things going for you. First, your daughter herself doesn’t sound like she’s all that into it and just wants to date because everyone else is. By telling you that, she’s almost begging you to say No. Second, even if dating were her idea, you’re right: 14 is too young for serious one-on-one dating.
That said, you can’t just play the tough guy and expect her to be happy about it. In fact, the more forcefully you forbid dating, the more you’ll push her towards it. Here’s what to do instead.

  • Really Talk to Her. You have a wonderful opportunity here. Your daughter actually came to you with a problem. That says a huge amount (in a good way) about your relationship. Ask her to tell you more about the dating her friends are doing, the pressure she feels, and what she actually means by “dating” (you might be thinking, “dinner, movie, make out in the back seat of the car”; she might be thinking “hold hands and share an ice cream cone”). Listen carefully and don’t be judgmental. When you sense an opportunity, talk to her about the dangers of dating, including violence (which, by the way is just as likely to be initiated by girls as by boys). Talk about relationships, sex, and the finances involved. You’re not going to wrap this up in one conversation, so take it a step at a time.
  • Establish some dating rules. Number one is that group dates are okay, one-on-one dates are not. End of story. Group dates let her be with the boy who makes her blush, but in a setting where inappropriate behavior is a lot less likely.
  • Tag along. In my view, groups of young teens shouldn’t be out and about without an adult nearby—there’s too much opportunity for things to go wrong. And if you want your daughter to see how serious you are, be the chaperone. Don’t be right in the middle of the group or try to be everyone’s buddy—that would only embarrass your daughter. Instead, walk half a block behind and sit a few rows away in the movie. But be there. Watch carefully, and let her enjoy herself.

Sandwich Generation: Raising Teens & Caring for Aging Parents

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Just as our rambunctious toddlers and kids grow into self-sufficient teens, the self sufficiency and health of our parents start to decline. Dads of the sandwich generation are caught between directing a misguided, angsty teenager and helping a parent with diminishing independence. You’ve inescapably fallen into the role of caretaker for your own mom or dad.

 

Defining the Sandwich Generation

One in eight Americans care for aging parents while tending to their own families, according to the Pew Research Center. An estimated 66 million Americans take care of a loved one, while a third are also raising children, reports the National Alliance for Caregiving.

It’s a stressful responsibility that also evokes strong feelings of resentment, guilt and anger. You’re making sacrifices and engaging in 100 percent selflessness that can create serious health problems, self-neglect and exhaustion. The following pointers can help members of the sandwich generation healthily navigate their roles without the detrimental “caregiver syndrome.”

Be Empathetic

Aging seniors with decaying health can fall into depression and moodiness. A sick parent resents their own increased dependency on others. The growing resentment is a two-way street, and your once vibrant parent may resent needing your help just as much as you resent your parent’s reliance on you. During high-stress moments when your emotions are about to implode, try to remember this isn’t ideal for your parent either. Embrace empathy and compassion — inner strength and calmness will follow.

Let Go

Mother and caregiver Mary Novaria wrote on The Huffington Post that she had a romanticized vision of her family’s three generations of women coming together. She fantasized about her and her mother and daughter sipping tea while dishing on “Grey’s Anatomy” and reminiscing in front of the fireplace. Likewise, you may have picture hitting golf balls with your father while teaching your teenager about the rules of the game. Letting go of an idyllic picture of how you imagined your relationship to be with your parent can help alleviate disappointment, resentment and irritation. Your parent is still your parent, and love is unconditional.

Claim Good Days

Parenthood can make a man want to pull a Christopher McCandless and abandon society to live in isolation with nature. Although McCandless met an unfortunate fate in the novel “Into The Wild,” his escape can be a fantasy for a parent. Parenthood is tough, and you have to savor the beautiful moments. A warm hug from a little one before bed can make up for an entire day of temper tantrums, and the same goes for caregiving. Cherish the good days. Avoid feelings of inadequacy with affirmations that you can’t do it all. It’s a balancing act. Use special moments shared with your parent as a reminder that your mom or dad suffering from Parkinson’s, for example, isn’t a burden, but a loved one.

Move Mom or Dad

Moving a parent out of their home can be devastating decision to make. Conversations with a parent about moving into your home or an assisted living community is commonly met with resistance. An aging parent may be even more reluctant to move from their home if they’re moving across country to be near your family for support. So focus on the bright side of things and drive home that a sunny transfer to assisted living community in Mesa, Arizona or elsewhere, could offer a healthy change of scenery..

Have an open conversation as soon as necessary and share honest concerns about your parent’s well-being. Explain that you’re their advocate. Continue to approach the subject in a way that makes your parent feel like they made the choice, rather than being forced into abandoning their home. Ensure your parent that your family is a caregiving team who your mom or dad can count on no matter what.

Debunking Myths about Only Children + Unlocking the Teenage Brain

[amazon asin=1451626959&template=thumbleft&chan=default]Lauren Sandler, author of One and Only.
Topic:
The freedom of having an only child, and the joy of being one.
Issues: What are only children really like? Debunking stereotypes and myths about “onlies”; the benefits to children, relationships, and society of having–and being–an only child.


[amazon asin=1118343050&template=thumbleft&chan=default]Eric Jensen, coauthor of Turnaround Tools for the Teenage Brain.
Topic:
Helping underperforming students become lifelong learners.
Issues: Research-based, classroom-tested strategies to strengthen students’ mind, body, and help them become exceptional lifelong learners; how and when to use workarounds; how the brain changes; how increase your student’s effort, build a better attitude, and improve behavior.

Technology Overload + The Great Outdoors + College Applications + Good Teens

[amazon asin=1620876361&template=thumbleft&chan=default]Max Strom, author of There is No App for Happiness.
Topic:
How to avoid a near-life experience.
Issues: Technology has expanded at such a rate that nearly every aspect of our world has been affected–but there has been no expansion of personal happiness. Instead, the wealthiest societies have become depressed, anxious, sleep-deprived, and overmedicated.


[amazon asin=0399161082&template=thumbleft&chan=default]Peter Brown Hoffmeister, author of Let Them Be Eaten by Bears.
Topic:
A fearless guide to taking our kids into the great outdoors.
Issues: A simple, practical introduction to hiking, camping, and exploring that will help parents and kids alike feel empowered and capable. So turn off the video games and rediscover the powerful of going out to play.

[amazon asin=0345498925&template=thumbleft&chan=default]Michelle Hernandez, author of Acing the College Application.
Topic:
Maximizing your child’s chances for admission to the college of his or her choice.
Issues: Understanding the Common Application; how the answer to the “Why” question can make or break your application; the truth about what colleges are really looking for in essays; myths and misconceptions about the on-campus interview.


[amazon asin=0307347575&template=thumbleft&chan=default]Richard Lerner, author of The Good Teen.
Topic:
Debunking the negative myths about adolescents.
Issues: Teens have an undeserved bad rap in the media and elsewhere; redefining adolescence; all teens have the potential to develop in healthy ways; the characteristics of a good teen and what parents and others can do to encourage them.

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