Parents are so committed to raising teens that are successful, happy, and healthy. Yet, when it comes to money skills, we are truly at a loss. How I know this is that the most popular response I hear when I tell people I teach parents to raise teens with effective money habits is, “Good for you! That is SO Important! Do you teach that in schools? I think they should teach personal financial literacy in school!”
Everyone agrees that people who don’t know how to manage money well have problems– lots of them and lots of different kinds of problems. Everyone agrees that people who are great money managers have peace of mind, options in life, and power that isn’t available to people who are broke.
The interesting part of the issue that I am pointing to is that most people don’t even HEAR the part I said about teaching parents. The record is just stuck on “They should teach that in school.” It plays over and over, without pausing.
So, that’s the FIRST big, big mistake parents don’t even know they are making: Thinking that someone else should or can take care of their children in this critical area of life.
The SECOND big mistake is thinking that personal financial literacy is complicated, so it belongs in the hands of experts.
I realize I have just challenged the status quo, but hear me out for a second. I am NOT saying that personal financial literacy should NOT be taught in schools, I am just saying that this isn’t the solution to the problem we have. I am also NOT saying that experts should NOT teach our children about money. I am just saying that experts don’t hold the solution, either.
Let’s look at the truth for a moment. Consider all of the time, money, resources, and commitment we put into Health education. Is our nation getting healthier? It won’t solve our nation’s health problems until it is related to what is going on at home for kids.
Remember when the dental school students came to your class and taught you about brushing your teeth? It was interesting because you already HAD to brush your teeth every day.
You don’t have to be an expert in nutrition to feed your family healthy meals. You don’t need to be a dentist to teach your kids to brush their teeth.
I wonder if we can take what we have learned in these areas and apply it to financial education. When we notice that parents are skittish about this part of parenting, we can really respect that. After all, what ARE parents supposed to teach their children about money? Everyone seems to have their own ideas, and the truth is THEY AREN’T WORKING.
I refuse to think that means we should throw the baby out with the bath water. In other words, that doesn’t mean that parents CAN’T teach effective money habits and attitudes; it just means that we need to support parents with comprehensive, practical, and effective strategies.
I believe we can provide parents with the resources and support they need to raise money-smart children, who come to school ready to learn the academic aspects of finances, and who can appreciate, evaluate, and take advantage of wealth-building service providers.
Money management is a critical life skill that we no longer can afford the luxury of ignoring. Nor can we afford the luxury of expecting someone else to take care of it for us.
Easy Action: Begin a money journal with your teen. Teach your teen to figure out his or her current net worth. Then, set a goal for updating this document routinely (Weekly? Monthly? What works for you?) and create a reminder system.
Remember to Pledge to teach your teen to be an excellent money manager! Let the world know that parents are doing their part to build a financially literate society!
© Your Teen’s Money Skills, Inc., 2012 All rights reserved worldwide.