Your working son or daughter cannot wrap his or her head around money or worth yet. They will need to understand the value career and life. Teaching this to children may save them heartache, so they won’t sell themselves short.
My son, “Boy Wonder,” has a budget from us on payday. He knows to save X amount for the first year of college because he will not work. He pays his own cell phone bill (two months in advance). He gives his brother an allowance (he insisted on giving an allowance).
The rest is for himself. We allow a little freedom for him to spend it on what he wants, but we have used his freedom as training opportunities.
Parents need to look for training opportunities that will add value, and not build Dad or Mom’s domain of authority. Although he or she is 16 or 17, and legally a parent’s responsibility, the bully in the parent should be dying, and the trainer and mentor are regular guests. That is if they are not doing drugs, or out of control the bully will need to stay longer. But I digress.
It is the trainer and mentor that will need to show a lifelong lesson to their employed teen about value.
- Demonstrate responsibility monetary value, not just the value of money. My working son used calls me “frugal” and not cheap. He is starting to shop around, but his natural inclination is seeing it—get it. Instead of saying “no,” have them research before acting. Have him or her share what they earn with siblings.
- Mistakes and error in judgment are OK. Teach them the correct way. Video games are a tool for this lesson. Both of my sons have used their money to buy games they regret. “Boy Wonder”has bought two video games ever since November 2010.
- Show them the value of doing the dirty work. This is a career lesson for every age: dirty work sustains value at 17 for life. I told the story of my son cleaning poop at work and assigned to poop duty several times after the one incident. He knows that he may need to do that for a patient one day as a nurse. Some of the value is in sharing that with every employer he interviews with how it translates to his future career.
- Model for them what money will not bring, and the value this adds to life. If he or she is saving, sharing, learning, earning, and implementing the lessons learned, eventually they will adapt your values and philosophies (assuming that this is out of love and not an obligation).
- Display the value of love. The hardest thing for a parent to do is not to allow success and failure to influence the attention given to your working teen’s siblings. Love is unconditional, and each lesson as a result of failure needs to have the same intensity of love given in success.