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What Will You Do About It?


I had a really interesting conversation with a father of two teens the other day.  He is committed to teen financial fitness, not just for his kids, but for all young people.  He said that when he talks to other parents about how they are teaching their kids money skills, he hears people say, “Teenagers aren’t interested in anything but asking for and spending money.”

When I hear parents saying this—and I hear it a LOT—I ask several questions right away:

  1.  Is that going to be the “show-stopper”?  Is that it?  We think teens aren’t interested, so we give up?  And resign ourselves to the status quo:  another generation of teens becoming young adults without skills that are critical to their success (especially at a point in their lives when they are challenged with career beginnings in an unfriendly job economy, and all the other aspects of new responsibilities).
  2. Is it true?  Are teens truly NOT interested in learning about how to manage money effectively? ALL the research decidedly points to the majority of teens claiming that money skills is NUMBER 1 on their list. Could it be that adults THINK teens aren’t interested because we don’t know how to ask them about it?  Or, could it be that we don’t know how to teach them this skill in a way that matters to them, so they keep us out of their hair by making us think they don’t care?
  3. Is it possible that we have reached that conclusion about our teens before we even ask them about it?  Could it be that we are loading the question in a way that leads them to tell us they aren’t interested?  Do we make it sound as exciting as folding laundry?
  4. And, do we ever really ask them?  Have we just drawn that conclusion because we have nagged and nagged them about money, and they hear us complaining about it, so we decide they aren’t interested?

There has to be some explanation, because the research is so inconsistent with the idea that teens are NOT interested.  Not only that, but as a high school teacher, I ask my students (all 120 of them) every year:

 “Who wishes they had GREAT money skills?…The kind that will serve you now AND for the rest of your life, so that you are growing your money, saving for big ticket items, buying what you need and want, and giving to others in ways that matter to you?”

The answer I get EVERY year is a resounding “Teach us!!”

The main complaint teens have is that no one in their life is teaching them about money in a way that is meaningful to them.

Are we willing to confront this statement?  Are we ready to do something about it?  Are we willing to look at new ideas and approaches to teaching our teens this life skill?  Where do we stand with this?

© WealthQuest for Teens, Ltd., 2011 All rights reserved worldwide.

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