Like any loving parent, you want to give your child a good life, reasonable standard of living, and great experiences and memories to look back on. You work hard to provide that, aiming for equal or better than you had, making sacrifices along the way.

That’s what a ‘good’ parent does.

As a tween, your child’s becoming more independent and doing things with friends, so you offer ‘fun money’ to grab a slurpee, coffee or whatever the treat of the day is. You rework your budget for increased costs in food consumption, activities, pursuing passions, and replacing outgrown clothing.

Where’s the line between basics and extras?

Your teen makes some money in part-time shirt yet spends their paycheck on what they want, asking you to top up other growing expenses like fast food and dinners out, nails, lashes, beauty products, protein powders, supplements, high end fashion, jewelry, cell phones, entertainment etc., yet never pay for gas in your car (or maybe you pay for their car)?

Extras are subjective and you and your teen likely disagree on this one. Until you make the extras basic by saying nothing or swallowing your resentment because ‘it’s just this once’, and you buy your belief that you’re a ‘good’ parent.

Why are they so irresponsible?

At some point you feel taken for granted and wonder how your teen became so ungrateful. I mean, aren’t they going to say thank you, or start to appreciate everything you’ve given?

In short, no.

Your teen has never held a full-time job and has NO frame of reference for the stress and planning it takes to be responsible for a home, dependents or pay bills and have money left at the end of the month. The gratitude missing in your teen isn’t coming because their lifestyle is supported, not earned. That’s entitlement.

With college or university on the horizon you hope your teen will leave the nest, excited for greater independence and a Ramen noodles budget, because that’s how character is built on the way to being an independent adult. Think again.

I know you meant well.

You set out with good and loving intentions and ended up as The Bank with no withdrawal limit. Shaming, blaming, or beating yourself up won’t help, so let that go and forgive yourself.

Grabbing the brakes and getting this train on a different track is going to take firm, compassionate resolve for you and your teen to stay out of resentment and retaliation.

  • Take ownership of setting up the pattern and communicate that openly with your teen, including underlying intentions, fears, beliefs that perpetuated it.
  • Practice saying no and empathize with your teen when they’re upset their lifestyle tap got turned off.
  • Build a budget and a reasonable time frame to get there so your teen doesn’t feel abandoned or set up to fail.
  • Share the budget with your teen, being clear about what you’ll pay for and what’s theirs
  • Support them to create strategies for earning the things they want and encourage them when that feels hard.
  • Remember, the sooner your teen learns about money and what their lifestyle costs, the more empowered and independent they become.
  • Repeat step 1 and 2 often with compassion and respect.

This is the opening week of The Empowered Parent Mastermind and participants are uncovering generational and parenting beliefs, seeing how those show up in their parenting today.

Your brain is wired to repeat what you know, even if you said you wouldn’t. Before you know it, patterns appear you don’t like and it’s easy to blame or resent your teen for the result when they’re responding to it, not perpetuating it. It’s a rewarding and freeing insight if you’re willing to be curious and see it.

I’d love to hear how you’ve taught your teen about money and the boundaries or limits you’ve found helpful. Head over to my FREE parenting community on Facebook and post a comment using the link below. There’s no one answer and more perspectives make us better parents.

Post your comment about teens and money here

Aly Pain

Growing up, I was the smart, fun girl on the outside and a frantic, anxious mess on the inside. I spent years healing the pain of dysfunctional family relationships, including eating disorders and a suicide attempt, to break the cycle raising my own teen boys.

Today, I’ve been happily married to my husband for over 23 years, and we have 2 incredible teen boys. My passion is empowering parents to build healthy, respectful relationships with their teens without giving up or giving up, even if they've tried everything and are at their wits end.

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