Do you have to travel a lot for your work? If so and if you have kids, you’ll know where I’m coming from on this one. When the kids are young, it’s pretty easy to get them a present while you’re away because the act of giving them anything is all they care about. But as the kids get into late elementary school it gets progressively harder. And what about the times when you’re rushing to/thru the airport to catch your flight? Oops, no time to really shop and therefore no present this time.
The parents of adolescent kids have increased legal liabilities. Imagine they have some friends over and someone gets badly injured, especially if you have a swimming pool or live on a lake. Or think about a car accident that is your kid’s fault and bad injuries or worse are involved. When our oldest daughter entered junior high school, we got an umbrella liability policy from our insurance company to cover more than the standard liability coverage in our homeowner’s policy. It doesn’t cost much for this coverage, even for $1M worth of coverage. Your insurance agent can explain what is covered and how much is the right amount to get covered for.
See my other blog posts on parenting here.
This is something my wife and I instituted at the beginning of junior high and extended all the way through high school graduation. If the kids ever find themselves in an uncomfortable situation that they want to get out of, they can call home and we will come get them with no questions asked. We tell them we can park a few blocks away, if needed, to be discreet. Basically, whatever it takes to make them comfortable exercising this offer if in a bad situation. We make it clear that we won’t interrogate them into telling us the reason for the call if they would rather us not know. The important thing is that they know this safety net is there.
Nervous about the dichotomy between buying nice-to-have things for your kids and making sure your they learn what it means to earn their own way? Welcome to the 50/50 rule. When your kids want a _____ (insert seemingly important item that fits the “want” category rather than the “need” category), tell them that you’ll split the cost 50/50 with them. Then immediately be ready to offer ways to make money with chores if they ask. If they really want the item, they will do whatever it takes to get it. And with the 50/50 split it’s amazing how often their 50% share is reasonably within reach if they will put in some effort to work for the money. And if they come to you with an idea to sell homemade banana bread every weekend morning door-to-door in your neighborhood, you have the side benefit of knowing you’ve given birth to an entrepreneur.
Click here to download a template I’ve used with my three daughters to make it crystal clear what our obligations are as parents and what theirs are as new drivers. Since the document is editable, you can add signature lines, revise the terms or add more terms to make it match your standards and philosophies. About 6 months after putting this into effect, pull it out again and review it with your son/daughter as a reminder.
I know, teenagers can be loud and obnoxious. But when your kids get into high school and especially once they start driving, it’s easy to lose track of where they are and who they are hanging out with. It won’t seem like it initially, but if you’re lucky for kid’s teenage friends will want to come to your house to hang out. And you can possibly influence this if you try. You’ll know where they are, what they are doing and who they are hanging out with. Think about the alternative.
The concept of defining and refining a System is something I regularly stressed with my girls during their high school and college years. The truth is that each person has a different way of planning, organizing, studying and remembering. What works for you in these areas might not at all work for your son/daughter. One of the most important things to accomplish during the high school and college years is for your kid to develop and refine a system that works for them.