Attitude Adjustment

Dear Dave,

Our 18-year-old doesn't quite get where we're headed in getting our finances in order and becoming debt-free. He's used to us handing him at least $30 on weekends, and that amount has dropped to $10 if he's lucky. How can we explain it when we're ashamed as parents that we let our own financial situation get so bad?


Dear Cheryl,

Everybody's fallen down at some point. Being imperfect doesn't make you a bad parent. And if you've made mistakes with money it just means you're alive and you've had money in your hands at some point.

I don't think you've got any reason to be ashamed as parents. You've fed him, clothed him, he's got shelter - that's pretty much all you're obligated to do. The idea that you're supposed to just hand kids stuff all the time is ridiculous!

At his age, he's old enough to grasp a conversation that goes something like this: "We didn't do a good job teaching you to handle money in the past because WE didn't know how to handle money. We're sorry about that. But it doesn't mean we've given up our rights of parenting and making quality decisions from here on out."

No 18-year-old needs to be sitting around having money handed to him. Shove about a dozen job applications under his nose, or show him the business end of a lawnmower - something! This kid needs to be making money!

Once that happens, you can show him the lessons you've learned about budgeting, saving and handling money properly. Then, he can begin spending his own $30 on weekends!


Comments and feedback can be sent to