Tuesday, June 9, 2009

What To Do When Teenagers Make You Miserable (CLOSED)

The Human ATM
by Joanne Kimes and R.J. Colleary with Rebecca Rutledge, PhD,
Author of Teenagers Suck: What to do when missed curfews, texting, and "Mom, can I have the keys" make you miserable

This sound familiar? You're whipping money out of your wallet to hand your teen so often that you've given yourself carpal tunnel syndrome? Or maybe you're thinking about getting a weekend job just to afford your teenager? Or you've actually made the phone call (disguising your voice of course) to inquire how much the Red Cross is paying these days for a pint of blood?

Money may or may not be the root of all evil, but it sure can be the root of a lot of parent-teen conflict. When children are, well, children, they generally don't cost much. A Happy Meal here, a coloring book there, some hand-me-downs from an older sibling or sympathetic friend, and it's all good. Well, hopefully you enjoyed the good old days, because they're so over and they're not coming back. While you're struggling to accept that, here's how to deal with it.

You have three issues to face here:

1. Teenagers want things.
2. Teenagers need things.
3. Teenagers expect you to give them the things they want, plus the things they need.

We have all heard the adage that teenagers will "eat you out of house and home." But if you're not careful, they might "clothes you" out of house and home and "technology you" out of house and home as well.
"When they were babies, my kids called me 'DaDa.'
When they got older, they called me 'Daddy.' Now that they're
teenagers, they call me 'Hi, Can I Have Twenty Dollars?'
--Doug, father of four teenagers
First off, realize that teenagers are expensive to maintain. (Think of them as yachts with messy rooms.) Secondly, make sure they realize it too. The more you can steer your teens toward Appreciation and away from Entitlement, the better your chances of maintaining some non-gray hairs. This is where you dust off your "When I was your age, my allowance was a nickel and I wasn't allowed to spend it all in one place!" stories. You know you have them. And if you don't, use the ones your parents told you.

But be prepared for resistance. Your teen remembers childhood too, a time when you met all their needs and probably most of their wants, as well. But now that Happy Meal has evolved into sushi, and that coloring book is now an iPhone, and those hand-me-downs have given way to designer labels. As far as they're concerned, nothing has really changed. You're still financing this expedition, right? Right? Right?

Let Them Make Their Own Financial Mistakes
The truth is, money matters create a situation ripe for long-term, big-picture growth. You taught them how to make a bed, you taught them how to ride a bike, and now you need to teach them about money. But beware: the words "supply-side economics" won't even be out of your mouth before your offspring will utter The Teen Mantra: "Can I have that?"

Here's a Mom-Teen Exchange Overheard Recently at the Local Mall
Teen: I love these boots, if I don't get them I'll just die!
Mom: Fine, you can buy them with your own money.
Teen. Oh well then never mind.

In order to instill any financial knowledge (or, as your Dad told you, "The value of a dollar"), it's vital to let teenagers spend their own money. Realize this means they will spend it very, very badly. When they do, do your best Marcel Marceau imitation and say nothing. (But don't try that "walking against the wind" thing all mimes do because that's a hard one to pull off.) Give them time to learn the value of saving. They will, especially when they find something they really really really want, which will happen at exactly the same time they are really really really broke. Don't give them the money. Let them learn the lesson.

So What to Do?
At the end of the proverbial day, it all comes down to this: what are you willing to pay for, and what are you not? While these are individual choices based upon individual circumstances, and no two families will handle this situation the same way, the only non-negotiable point is to make your rules and stick to them.

It's probably prudent to supply all of the necessities, and some of the luxuries. But reserve the right to define the terms here, since teenagers' "necessity vs. luxury" lists will often (as in always) differ from your own, and will probably have you scratching your head and believing they must get this questionable thought process genetically from their other parent, because you have way too much sense for them to have gotten it from you.

So now that we've established that teenagers will have financial needs, as well as wants (some less unreasonable than others), the bottom line becomes "Where does this money come from?"

When it comes to teenagers earning spending money outside the home, there are two camps. Some families not only allow but encourage their teenagers to find part-time work after school and on weekends as early as they're able. Other families believe that work will come soon enough in life, and want their teens to concentrate more on school and just being young, footloose, and fancy-free while they still can. Just remember, if their fancy is free, that means someone else is footing the bill for it, and that someone is y-o-u.

There are also differing philosophies within the home. Some families assign regular, steady chores and create allowances. Other families are open to their teenagers doing extra jobs around the house for cash. So when one hears the magic words -- in TeenSpeak, those are "I need money" -- your Pavlovian response should be "And I need my car washed." Or "And I need the garage cleaned." But never "So go rob a bank," because with your luck this is the time they would actually listen to you.

Keep in mind that a recurring theme to your survival of their adolescence is "separation." A good start would be for your teen to maintain her own bank account. (But don't put their college money in there! Or even think about giving them their own credit card!) If you create a consistent, well-communicated system, you should be able to avoid becoming The Human ATM.

The above is an excerpt from the book Teenagers Suck: What to do when missed curfews, texting, and "Mom can I have the keys?" make you miserable by Joanne Kimes and R.J. Colleary with Rebecca Rutledge, PhD. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.

Copyright © 2009 Joanne Kimes and R.J. Colleary with Rebecca Rutledge, PhD, authors of Teenagers Suck: What to do when missed curfews, texting, and "Mom, can I have the keys" make you miserable

From Teenagers Suck, Copyright © 2009, Joanne Kimes. Used by permission of Adams Media, an F+W Media, Inc. Co. All rights reserved.

Author Bios for Teenagers Suck: What to do when missed curfews, texting, and "Mom can I have the keys?" make you miserable

Joanne Kimes has written for a number of children's and comedy television shows. This is her eleventh Sucks book. She lives in Studio City, CA. For more information, please visit http://sucksandthecity.com

R.J. Colleary attended Emerson College and moved to L.A. to become a writer for shows such as Saved by the Bell, The Golden Girls, and Benson. He teaches writing to graduate students at Chapman University and works steadily as a playwright. He has survived two teenagers and is currently surviving one more at home in Sherman Oaks, CA.

Rebecca Rutledge, PhD is a clinical psychologist who specializes in family therapy and individual therapy for children and adolescents. She writes columns for Your Health, Memphis Women's Journal, and the Shelby Sun Times, and lives in Memphis, TN.

We have one (1) copy of Teenagers Suck: What to do when missed curfews, texting, and "Mom, can I have the keys" make you miserable to give away to one teenage-crazed reader!

There are several ways to enter - here are the rules:

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* Leave us a comment on any post here at Pink Lemonade (be sure to comment on this post & let us know where you commented). Feel free to leave a comment on this post telling us why YOUR teenager is driving you crazy!!

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This contest ends TODAY Tuesday, June 9th at 11:59pm (pdst) so don't wait - make sure you've gotten all seven entries TODAY! Please note: entries received after the cutoff time will be deleted prior to drawing a winner.

- Liz

Posted by Liz of Pink Lemonade


BritBritNS said...

I would be interested in reading this one!


Carlene said...

Do I ever need this book. I think my kids think I am the ATM machine. Please include me in your giveaway.

Carlene said...

I subscribe in google reader.

lanie67 said...

I am glad I am not the only one that feels this way! Will this book help me keep my sanity? :)


abfantom said...

I will be needing this book very soon! I'd better start reading now.

abfantom (at) yahoo (dot) com

Anonymous said...

zenrei57 (at) hotmail (dot) com

This would be a lifesaver (not sure if it would be the parent's or the teenager's life tho LOL)

And I commented at the BOUGHT post :)
Thanks and have a wonderful Day!!!

kathy pease said...

i commented here https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=7580969578693605174&postID=7335474229267659141&page=1&isPopup=true

kathy pease said...

fan on facebook kathy l pease

kathy pease said...

following on twitter klp1965

mverno said...

i left one mverno@roadrunner.com

Gabriel J. said...

This would be great for my partner. Make me a winner!

thegamblinggirl said...

My daughter used to be this sweet, sensitive, responsible, family-oriented girl and now she's sarcastic, argumentative, antisocial (with us, at least) and frequently downright rude. I'm not sure I'm going to survive the next few years.

thegamblinggirl said...

I'm already following you on twitter:


hawaiian1 said...

Just when I think I "got" my kids, they go and grow up on me and I gotta figure it all out again! This book will definitely come in handy for the "next" step!

Angela said...

Arghh! Two teens here. "I want to go to the mall." "Can we go to Gamestop?" "She didn't wash her dishes" , "He won't let me on the computer."...I think I need this book!

Maja said...

ne teen, yet. i want the book. :)

Maja said...


MaryJo said...

I survived my daughter - I thought she would be the difficult teen - My 16 year old boy is driving me nuts... GIMME... Gotta have... Gotta go... Oh - and the girlfriend needs the best - HELP

js22 said...

Kids today seem to have no concept of money and seem to think its supply is unlimited.

Thanks for the giveaway!

email in blogger profile.

NesieBird said...

I have two teen-aged daughters and could use this!

kneecree at gmail dot com

js22 said...

I'm a fan on facebook - Joanne Schultz .

email in blogger profile.

Julie Gordon said...

I subscribe.

This book sounds great!!


Julie Gordon said...

I am a facebook fan- Julie Gordon


Anonymous said...

Save me I have two teen daughters who never wanted the work until they turned 16 & 17. I am not an ATM they think I am the NYSE and I feel it is time to file bankrupt because the teen debtors are penniless...lol.


Brittany said...

My mom would love this!

Brittany said...

Following you on twitter @Deadmonkeys90

Sunnyvale said...

Sounds like a neat book

Brittany said...

I subscribe

Heather said...

I follow on twitter.

masonsgranny59 said...

count me in please:)

lilyk said...

Please enter me into the contest. Thanks!

lilyk said...

I became your Facebook fan under the name Lily Kwan.

lilyk said...

I subscribed by email.

lilyk said...

I became a member of your social network under the name Lily Kwan.