Google+ Authentic Parenting: Saying Yes to Your Teenager

Monday, June 25, 2012

Saying Yes to Your Teenager

Written by Samantha Abrams

Teaching independence and responsibility by saying “yes!”

When teens ask for extravagant purchases, sometimes you have to say “no”—and follow it up with a nice “Because I said so”—but great teaching moments can happen if you know how, and when, to say yes.

Offer help and advice to pay for their own purchases 

Image: ALex E Proimos on Flickr
When teens ask if they can buy concert tickets or a new outfit, you might say, “Sure! Let’s talk about how you can pay for it.” Most teens like the idea of a part-time job—it’s an important step toward autonomy and adulthood—but many are intimidated by the application and interview process, so a little encouragement and coaching can go a long way. Another big obstacle for teens finding jobs is the pervasive messages of disrespect for fast food and other entry-level work, which is often the only work teenagers can get. Never disparage honest work, and teens will get the message that they can be proud to have a job, even if it’s just “flipping burgers”.

Model brand skepticism and smart consumption 

Another great way to say yes is to say “Yes, I’ll buy you a pair of jeans—just not a $120 pair of jeans.” Most kids grow up bombarded with marketing from infancy, and while you might try to protect your child from that influence, their friends will be a different story. As children enter adolescence and become more connected to their peers’ opinions, it takes conscious effort to counteract those messages. Talk about when brands matter and when they don’t. You might even put together a little test—a blind taste test for cereal, or comparing outfits with the labels covered—to show that brand names aren’t everything. This awareness won’t just save your household money; it will empower your teen to save thousands of dollars over the course of a lifetime by shopping more responsibly.

Talk about buying items off-season 

If your teen is set on a new wakeboard or some other seasonal item, you can say, “Yes! I will get that for you at the end of the season, when it’s half the price—or we can talk about where you can find the money to buy it now.” With a little planning and patience, you can find seasonal items like skis, snowboards, or dresses for homecoming or prom routinely discounted at 30-60% off. Impulse buying is easily the biggest budget-slaying habit, especially for teenagers; but if your teens are willing to wait out the season to get that new snowboard, they’re probably serious about it.

For big-ticket items, offer to match their contribution 

Suppose your teenager is looking at used cars to get to work or school. Working at McDonald’s or doing janitorial work, they might be out of high school by the time they’ve saved up enough—but if you offer to match their money (either dollar-for-dollar, asking them to contribute a certain fraction of the price, or whatever works for your family), you can help them make a realistic, responsible choice without putting it completely out of their reach. By requiring that they have a financial stake in the decision, they’ll learn the value of what they earn, and the planning that has to go into big purchases; and that understanding will pay huge dividends in their adult lives.

About the author:
Samantha Abrams is a freelance writer and fashion and celebrity blogger over at the Style Cynics fashion blog.



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