Part of the Whole Package

Teaching kids about money is only one element of parenting.  But it’s part of a whole package.  Everyone – including parents and including kids – is going to have strengths and weaknesses.  We all grow as individuals if we can build on our strengths and do our best to mitigate our weaknesses.  Child need parenting that helps them do this. 


So if your child is doing well with managing the budget you give her for auto fuel, but she’s flunking algebra, make sure all the parenting pieces are fitting together well.  Do you need an algebra tutor or just the motivation for studying is in place?  Financial lessons needs to make logical sense.  For instance, parents need to be careful about “paying” for grades.  It might send the message that academic achievement will automatically bring financial rewards.  As any public school teacher who had a brilliant academic career can tell you, that’s not necessarily the case.  And yet a teenager’s primary job is generally agreed to be to get an education and find out enough about what her passion in life is to build a career.  So if working hard enough on grades is worthy of some financial support from parents, that’s worthwhile. 


As a parent of three teenagers, every once in a while I have to take a couple of steps back and ask myself, “Is it realistic that this child of mine who’s making me crazy right now should get a clothing allowance?”  If all the pieces aren’t fitting together for comprehensive responsible parenting, reassess.  And when you do reassess, remember that parenting isn’t about making your kids into clones of you.  It’s about helping them find who they are and maximize their sense of responsibility.