Well it’s official, I now have two teenage girls in the house.
If you have time, have a look at this clip from the ‘Harry Enfield’ series, called Kevin becomes a teenager:
I love this clip as he picks up so many traits of a teenager.
As parents, there is no ‘book of rules’ or ‘good parenting guides for teenagers’ and we muddle through as best as we can.
Life is hard for a teenager, they are at that stage where their hormones are on fire, so their emotions tend to be out of proportion. They also have to contend with higher expectations from school and from society and the world in general. There are so many issues that are around today, that weren’t around when I was a child, e.g. drugs, date rape, on-line grooming, cyber bullying etc. As a parent it makes you want to tell your child that they must never go out again, but we can’t do that.
As a parent, I feel the best I can do, is to make sure my children are aware of all these things, without scaring them. At least then they will have the knowledge to avoid these situations or at least know where to get help.
Everyday life can have many pitfalls too. If they manage to get a job, they need to be able to budget their money. It’s easy when they live at home with their parents, but when they leave home they will have bills to pay.
Over the last two or three decades, credit cards and loans have become a way of life for many. Purchases are made on the ‘never, never’, just so houses looks trendy and beautiful, with two or three cars sitting outside. Also, holidays are taken when people need one, rather than when they can afford one and unfortunately our children are learning that keeping up with the ‘Jones’, is the way to live.
The only problem with this way of life, is it usually catches up with people. In February this year, the PwC’s Precious Plastic report predicted that UK consumers will owe around £7,500 each by 2013 and this doesn’t include mortgages.
So one thing I feel I can do for my teenagers, is to teach them how to budget and talk to them about the tricks that advertisers and shops use, to pretend people are getting a bargain or a ‘must have essential item’.
So last month, we sat both my daughters down and discussed our plan with them. We had decided to give them an ‘allowance’ once a month. We had previously worked out exactly how much the allowance was going to be, by firstly making a list of exactly what their money was to be used for and how much we usually budget for them. This is our list:
Clothes / underwear / P.J’s
Haircuts / Hair Accessories / Make up / Jewelry
Presents for friends at birthday / Xmas
School expenses / Stationary
We will still buy the basic items e.g. shampoo, conditioner etc. but if they want more expensive brands they will have to buy it themselves. Also, I will supply them with a packed lunch every day, but if they want a school dinner as a treat, then they need to pay for it themselves.
This all may sound a little harsh to you, but we have worked out exactly how much we spend on average for the above list of things and we have actually given them a bit more money on top.
At first my daughters eyes nearly popped out when I showed them how much money we were giving them each month, but when we sat and talked through how much we spend monthly on each area, we did start to get a few moans and the usual teenage “that’s not fair” from them.
We have helped each daughter to set up a spreadsheet that contains a budget for each item and explained to them how to go about saving for things like school uniform, shoes and hair.
Before they get their each months new allowance, we tell them we need to see their spreadsheet, to make sure they are spending wisely and it is working well. We want to ensure that they are not overspending. We feel this will teach them how to budget well and how to save up to buy items they need.
We have just given them their second months allowance and we have already noticed that they have stopped asking for money from the ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’. However, one hard lesson we have had to swallow is their priorities are not the same as ours. My eldest daughter loves ‘designer’ things and the first thing she did was buy some ‘Vans’ (the designer plimsoles that I so hate), but she did learn from it, as she had to cut down on everything else she wanted for the rest of the month. So even though we hated to see her spend money on these, she has learnt a valuable lesson.
I hope my daughters will learn alot from handling their own money and I hope we don’t have too many problems. It’s early days at the moment, but we will give it a good go and I will let you know how we get on.
Thank you for reading my blog today.