Some parents who grew up in a world where they were expected to earn their own spending money as teenagers feel disadvantaged by the experience and then seek to deprive their children of the same privilege in hopes of helping their kids get ahead. What a disservice!
We live in a cruel world where people are universally expected to be productive members of society. Too many kids today finish college without having had any real work experience and don’t know what it’s like to show up to work on time, take direction from a supervisor or to be responsible for accomplishing a task by a deadline.
Chances are that you worked as a teenager, babysitting, waiting tables, delivering newspapers, or mowing lawns. Maybe you hated it. But the experiences of work helped to make you the productive part of society that you are today. Support your children to make their own money teaches them the value of money and how to be good employees.
It seems unwise to give teenagers exclusive access to a car for which they have not paid. If you choose to give your teens cars, consider requiring them to be responsible for the insurance, gas and maintenance so that they learn responsibility along the way. In most cases, it would be better to encourage them to save for a car or simply use public transportation. If you dare, you can also let them borrow your car—so long as they gas it up for you once in a while.
The more pressure teenagers feel to earn money for their own expenses, the more responsibility you are teaching. Some parents worry that they are depriving their children of valuable study time and that working will lead to lower grades and fewer opportunities in the future. Of course, there needs to be a balance, but a college graduate with straight A’s through high school and college who has never had a job will be at a great disadvantage in the workforce. Similarly, a high school graduate whose grades are not good enough for college will be at a great disadvantage in the workforce. Help your teens find the right balance.