Teenage Teachable Moment

Christy's 17-year-old son is using clothing money to buy gifts. Dave thinks it's time for her son to hear this money isn't for him to do with as he pleases.

QUESTION: Christy in Houston and her husband have a 17-year-old son, and he receives money each month to handle his own expenses. He’s received a windfall of secondhand clothes and no longer has clothing expenses. He’s using clothing money to buy gifts for his girlfriend. Dave thinks it’s time for her son to hear this money isn’t for him to do with as he pleases.

ANSWER: The reason you’re doing this is not to transfer ownership of the money so that he can do whatever he wants to with it. If he decided he wanted to buy pot with it, it wouldn’t be okay. You didn’t lose control by handing him the money. The reason you’re doing this is to create a teachable moment so he can learn to make choices between gas and clothing and other things.

You need to talk to him about it and let him know this isn’t money to do with as he pleases. It’s his money to learn how to handle money in these areas. The money needs to go to something you approve of that continues the teachable moment—savings, charity, maybe a little to the girlfriend if you approve of her. We’re creating a teachable moment here. We’re not transferring assets. We don’t surrender our rights as parents when we do that.