Budgeting & Money for Teens

Parent Q&A

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  • My 16yo has ADHD and is not interested in much aside from video games, tv shows and tennis. He has been a heavy Magic the Gathering player since he was 9 however he said recently that there's nothing for him anymore til he can play 18yo+ tournaments. He is not currently on the college track (getting through high school is a beast unto itself). The one thing he is interested in that has possible direct career potential is investing. He definitely has a mind for numbers, complex deal points, making money, risk, exploiting opportunities.

    I have a Robinhood account which he uses with his own money. He buys and trades quickly, he is not into "traditional" investing (such as buying and holding for a long time), he wants to buy some NFTs, etc. As with many teens, he thinks he knows everything he needs to know and it's hard to convince him otherwise especially from Mom. 

    The latest post high school idea he shared with me is to live at home and invest for a year, complying with whatever rules I give him. I've been telling him that--at the least!--I would like him to have an investing mentor IRL, not just people he encounters on Discourse and Reddit. Maybe this could be a gap year, and afterward he sees the value of college or his daytrading has taken off? Previously I have told him that post high school, I expect him to work and/or go to school, period; no playing video games all day every day, etc. 

    Thoughts, ideas? Help! Thank you in advance. 

    Very few people are trading NFT, bitcoin, etc. as a full-time job. There's no reason you can't stick with your original rules: post high school you expect him to work and/or go to school. He can trade in the evenings after school/work like everyone else. Otherwise you're setting yourself up, I'm afraid, for exactly what you don't want—a young adult living at home playing video games all day every day between trades.

    You could also ask/suggest/require that he study for and take the SIE exam which is a prerequisite to obtaining a Series 7 license. At least he would gain the essential knowledge about stock trading and regulations even if he does not go further and obtain a registered representative (stockbroker) license.   https://www.kaplanfinancial.com/resources/getting-started/how-to-get-you...

    Hi there,

    My college-age son day trades and goes to school. He makes a little here and there, but after investing in risky investments and losing big (after a win on game stop), he's become much more cautious. As you likely already know, day trading is extremely risky. Making it even more risky is the fact that platforms such as Robinhood lend you money to invest, money that of course you can lose. Also, the tax rates on day trading are much higher than trading where you hang on to stocks for a year or more. Even after two plus years, my son is still learning. He's also said he'd like to do day trading as a career (his major is math related, but not finance related) and the whole thing makes me extremely nervous. That said, if he told me he wanted to drop out of school for a year and give day trading a try, I could see supporting it. It's difficult to day trade and work in the morning (or go to morning classes), but your kid could possibly work some afternoon, evenings, or weekend shifts along with day trading. Unfortunately, I don't know of any mentors though my son is thinking of researching that. Currently he follows various online communities.

  • Investment site for tween

    (1 reply)

    Anyone have recommendations for sites on which my tween son can pretend-invest in stocks? He's been asking questions about the stock market.

    I've worked with the Stock Market Game in the past, I really recommend it, kids love it and the curriculum is solid. Here is the link: https://www.stockmarketgame.org/expparent.html

    It is a school-based program, perhaps you can volunteer at your child's school to supervise a team, or just register as a homeschool.

  • Materialistic middle schoolers

    (14 replies)

    My daughter and her friends in grade 8 seem startling materialistic and label obsessed. My daughter is telling me how her friend just went to their weekend home in Carmel and another one has Louis Vuitton Nike Air shoes and then there was a Tiffany-themed (as in the jewelry store) birthday party. Others are going to Europe for the summer .I get this depressing feeling even her friends’ parents are label conscious and I feel like they look down on me, even though my husband and I are well educated and traveled. Is label fixation the new norm? I find myself wanting to move someplace else. I grew up in Carmel amid lots of wealth, but my parents were middle class, people did not flaunt it like here. How can I manage my child’s expectations? Recently I said No I can’t go to Europe this summer because we have to work and I can’t afford it either. No you aren’t going to a $50K per year private school so don’t even bother applying. No I’m not getting you Lulemon pants; they’re a splurge for me as an adult. What do others tell their kids? Can’t believe I’m even writing this post, it’s embarrassing. 

    My daughter (16) is not so obsessed with labels but still asking a lot. I personally make a difference between educational expenses (i.e. paying for interesting but expensive summer programs, this summer a precollege program in NY) and what I think are totally idiotic expenses (i.e. crazy expensive make up she wants). Of course this means I can afford the expensive summer programs. If you can’t just explain that to her and please don’t be ashamed. There is nothing to be ashamed! If you can, there are teens trips organized to Europe and they are for cultural enrichment, not for shopping! Anyway, all my solidarity, teens are hard!


    I have a middle school boy and while the culture of his peers isn't quite what you're describing, he has a lot of wants (that he would characterize as "needs"). I try to share my values and set limits on what we can and can't afford. Or on what I'm willing to spend money on and not.  Things that he wants that are in the category of things that I don't think a young teen needs to have, are things that he has to save up for himself.  He gets $5 a week allowance from me and earns a few dollars a week dog walking.  If he's saved his own money, then he can spend it on things that he wants, even if I think that they are not high priority items.  He's pretty impulsive and spends the money as soon as he's saved it, but it means that I can duck out of arguments about whether or not I'm buying something. He's not interested in clothes or other things that I think he needs, so at this point, I still take care of all of those things.  I've heard of other parents who are starting to transition to giving a lump sum of money for clothing and then giving some control over to their kids about what to buy. E.g., decide how much you think she needs for clothes for a season and then give her that amount. Calculate what you think is a reasonable amount for shirts, pants, jackets, etc.... Then let her figure out how to spend it.  You could decide whether you want to give her free reign (e.g., she can blow it all on one expensive shirt and then have to deal with wearing old clothes) or set some limits (e.g., she needs to buy at least two tops, two bottoms, and a jacket with the money).  She could earn extra to supplement the basic stipend if there are more expensive things she wants. Maybe this would help her start to sort some of these things out, and would help her see that the expensive items require some sacrifice, at least in your family.  I'm sure it's hard for her if her friends get whatever they want, but it's a good lesson to learn.  

    You’re doing the right thing! Keep setting boundaries & explaining your family’s values. What you choose to spend on, what you won’t, what you can’t afford but would buy if you could, what you wouldn’t buy even if you had all the money in the world. She is learning from you  

    This phase hit my daughter earlier, fifth or sixth grade. Where other families vacationed, second homes, the price of clothes. It was exasperating. But it’s better now. (And I’m sure it’s not just a local phenomenon, there were logo conscious snobby girls where I grew up too.)

    I'm not sure being materialistic is new. It was the norm 30 years ago when I was a teenager and has just continued since then. Of course, my friends and I were mostly fixated on certain styles of clothing whereas here in the Bay Area at this moment in time it is, as you say, about second homes, the latest newest electronics, and exotic vacations. My husband and I probably could afford to give my kids all the things they want but we don't. We don't go overseas, we don't have a second home, we drive old boring cars, we don't have a TV or game player, we have really lame "old" phones.

    The children compare how "poor" we are compared to all of their friends. I never explain why we can't have something they want. I just say things like, "Wow. That's a crazy way to spend money. Our family doesn't believe in that," or even sometimes with a laugh, "Oh my goodness. You guys are having such a tragic life! How are you bearing it?"

    I feel much better laughing about it and not taking the complaints seriously than I would if I felt like I had to defend our choices to them.

    I applaud you for posting this topic!  As a parent for a teenage son, I am well aware of this too.

    This is an unusual time.  Many areas in Bay Area are flaunted with wealth with the tech boom, etc.  There are even kids that are taking Tesla to school.

    I came to US from a middle class family in a third world country, worked hard and am now in a comfortable position that I can afford things that I would never dream of before.  But, I actually would like my son to experience what I went through before even though we can afford a little luxury once in a while.  It was a truly valuable American dream experience that any young person should go through.

    As a parent, I do not share too much of our financial situation with the kids.  We live modestly, label ourselves as middle class but are willing to spend on activities and things that add values occasionally.  We talk about money sense often.  My son can get what he wants as long as he is the one that earns the money to get it.  We have contracts in place to put aside some money that he can earn through grades, behavior, chores and volunteer work since he is still less than 16 years old and cannot legally work.  It's not perfect and my son would sometimes say so and so is getting an expensive computer, etc. but I am happy to see his is developing a value system that agrees with ours.

    Lastly, I am also thankful and glad that we are in a neighborhood of like minded parents who value family and education.  I am really surprised and happy when I found out my son and his friends are spending Friday after school hangouts sharing a bottle of soda in plastic cups that someone brought from home and some chips in the parking lot near his high school.

    Parenting in this age is hard but with wisdom and love, I think our kids will get it.

    hi there- I totally hear and understand your situation. Having grown up in an incredibly materialistic area on the east coast when the only thing discussed amongst my peers was what jeans you were wearing and where you shop, and then having raised my kids in san francisco among some of the wealthiest families on the planet--it's a tough thing to fight. And it is hardly just the wealthier kids either that are label conscious-- it is pushed by pop culture across the board and makes all these kids feel left out and "deprived". All I can say is what helped us a a family combat this is to install your core values and do as you seem to be doing- letting them see that your family is not in the same position nor wants to be in order to "keep up" also, if your child wants these things, encourage them to work- babysit, bake sale/lemonade stand, dog walking (all appropriate for an 8th grader) once they have to use their own money to save up for these expensive items, they will better understand the cost and the value. And maybe on a special occasion they can get one thing. Because if you deny and malign their taste and choices, that can really backfire and make the materialism even worse. In addition, doing volunteer work as a family and offering up some perspective on how most people live can also go a long way--

    good luck! Its tough out here in the Bay area to raise kids-on all ends of the spectrum!

    Oh, I'm sorry.  That sounds terrible.  I also have an 8th grader, but that is not our experience at all.   Her friends do not have that kind of wealth and don't seem focused on it.  My kid has never asked for name brand this or that, though I have noticed at least one friend who often wears lululemon.   The thought of other parents not understanding the concept of work during summer is not in my realm.  And our kids are at a private school.  I'm wondering what school your daughter attends?   There certainly is wealth in the Bay Area, but the majority of us couldn't live that way even if we wanted to.  Perhaps there are ways to expose your daughter and her friends gently and kindly to the reality of the majority?

    I feel your pain.  My kid is in a $50K/year private school, and the level of wealth and materialism on display among the student body is mind-boggling to say the least. For example, competed in showing off their fathers' yachts on social media, and one kid even has his own personal yacht as a 12th birthday gift.  Kids this age do not get it that it is extremely bad taste to display wealth like this, and this is also the age when they are very sensitive to peer pressure.  There is no end to this competition, and it is all relative---there will always be someone richer than you are.  But please remember that outside this loud wealthy circle, there are many students who are not like that and who do not worship wealth but rather focus more on academics, personal growth and intellectual pursuits.  Perhaps you can treat this as a great educational opportunity to have a calm and deep discussion with your daughter about important values in life, wealth, social responsibility and what it means to be successful.  I am open with my kid about the financial condition of our family.  I think it important to let the kid know the reality of your family, and how you have been working hard to support the family and her education.  She may not have the wealth of other families, but she has your love and support.  Money and wealth are not the only definition of success in life, and money cannot buy love and happiness (these uber-wealthy families have plenty of drams in this domain).  I think the kids need to know that it is not something worth proud of to spend parents' money---the kids did not work hard for it; they just happen to win the birth lottery, and it is nothing to boast.  For the same reason, there is nothing to be shamed of for not able to go to Europe for summer vacation.  Life is never fair, and if she wants to change something in her life, she will have to work hard by herself to do it, starting by doing well in school and having a long term plan for her own future.  For immediate goals, she could start to do more household work to earn extra money or find a job (like babysitter) to earn money to buy that Lulemon pant.  Once my kid worked hard to earn extra money, she did not want to spend it all out on something like this because she realized how hard she had to work to get the money, and her work was worth more than a silly item she did not absolutely need.  Don't despair--be confident about yourself and your family: you have worked hard, well educated and have given your kids love and a warm family!  Who cares what other people label you-they are not your boss or your family members or someone you love.  Your confidence will influence your daughter too.  Good luck!

    I think it's a bit of a phase and by the time they are a bit into high school it gets better, because they are in a much bigger and more diverse pool of kids.  There are so many trends with what's in and what's out.  I tried to use it as a way to discuss money management and explained how credit cards work, and loans and debt. I told my daughters that you can't tell how people really are able to buy stuff and some people will use credit cards and carry a lot of debt, to have fancy things.  Then they end up paying a lot more once you add the interest in.  Other people don't save any money at all and spend everything they have. The people who flaunt their wealth might not actually be wealthy at all.   Some kids have grandparents who spoil them with fancy gifts.  I reminded them of all the fun we had on domestic travel and all of the cool American cities they have visited. (We've never been to Europe with our children, we don't ski and we live in a small house.)  At public high school she will meet kids from all income levels. Some kids live in big houses, some kids live in apartments.  If the parents really look down on you then those aren't the kind of people you want as friends anyway.  It's a great opportunity to discuss your values.  Plus if your daughter really loves labels there's always Ebay!

    You didn't say what city you live in? If Berkeley, I'm really surprised. This wasn't either of my kids' experience as middle schoolers in Berkeley (my daughter is now a 10th grader and my son is still in middle school at King). There were clothing trends and my daughter sometimes wanted certain items, but label consciousness was not a "thing" in her circle of friends.  I've actually been so pleasantly surprised by how down-to-earth and socioeconomically diverse my kids' middle school (and now high school) friends are. It's been a real blessing in informing my kids' world views as well. A far cry from my teenage years in a wealthy upper middle class suburb.

    Bless you!  Please don't be embarrassed, be thankful for your awareness and for the opportunity to inspire others. Keep on saying "no".  ---------

    Sadly, too many parents, choose the easy road (and say yes to buy, BUY and/or "let's stay as busy as possible" ) rather than address the "I WANT" of their kids, and "I CAN'T be still"=== ditto for themselves. I'm very thankful that your daughter has the opportunity to learn-- from you --about doing what is best for a child rather than giving in so she/he can be like all the others. Tragically, it seems that most parents feel that to do otherwise requires more time, energy, awareness, wisdom, etc than they can 'afford'.  (Yet, even the impoverished families are caught up also...Buy, Buy is our national motto & has been for many, many years)
      Forgive me, but I am also thankful you canNOT afford all the goodies-- I know what it means to live on an extreme budget--but I'm thankful because, otherwise, you might've just fallen into the buy-buy-stream without thinking; Such has happened with my son and his wife.  Now they have 3 very spoiled teen to 20-year olds, who are mostly miserable.  My grandkids   have almost run out of designer jeans, expensive vacations or posh private schools & now are getting into overeating, drinking, depression.  (PS: However, I have faith that one maybe two of these 'kids' will pull out of our national insanity.  (One, I fear, will go down like her mother who has so many clothes they're on racks all over the house, still with the price tags on them --man! this is very hard for me to admit.    All I can do, as I have been doing ,is model healthier behavior.  --- I appreciate knowing that you're instilling mental health values in your teen. 

    You don't say where you live, but this certainly isn't the middle school experience my daughter is having at an Oakland public middle school, and we live in Rockridge, which is reasonably affluent (even though we are not).  My daughter recently wanted a Nike item that some friends have, but it was a rain jacket, not a status symbol.  My son reports more brand consciousness in high school, but by no means ubiquitous and seems to do more with social media influencers who are now starting clothing brands.  Your experience sounds more like what friends have told me about places like Danville.  Our family sounds much like yours, and if I was experience what you are, I would want to move too.  We have always gone thrift shopping at places like Goodwill and my kids love finding bargains and that surprise something, which you can only experience in a store that doesn't have rack after rack of identical items.  We also talk about equity a lot, which I think helps with that kind of materialism.  If your daughter is planning to go to college, she's going to need some community service type thing on her resume anyway, so I would suggest finding some volunteer opportunities that would expose her to less fortunate segments of our society, particularly if they involve kids.  We have been making Christmas gift bags and Valentines lunch bags for the homeless for years now that we distribute with our kids.  Maybe your daughter just doesn't realize what a struggle simple survival can be for some people right here in the bay area.  Anyway, good luck and don't change your values.

    Wow, my arts-schooled 8th grader is right there, and it is so humiliating to me as a non-materialistic parent! where did she acquire this obsession with designer labels?? Here's my theory: Partly it's pop music celebrating an orgy of designer brands as a proof of success, amplified by social media images where brand names provide added impact and symbolize celebrity. It's also a way for kids to find a sense of security/identity in a world that feels so competitive and unstable. If life is a video game, which so many influences in their world suggest that it is, then designer brands are badges of success. And if you fear that failure=death, then wearing a big branded sweatshirt/belt/ bag/shoes is a way of reassuring yourself that you are "safe"? Maybe the craving for symbols of wealth is a way to deal with the giant identity-formation project that middle-schoolers are going through.

    We are very anti-label in our family, and we explain that in terms of values as well as what we can/can't afford. Lots of lectures about the opportunity cost of spending $300 on clothing--what can you NOT buy because you spent your money that way? The harder topic I haven't tackled yet is the difference between "old money"--very understated about wealth, though it's visible in subtle, coded ways--versus "new money"--ostentatious display, "tasteless" flaunting. Looking forward to talking about the class issues embedded in that one! Why is one approach to wealth "superior" to the other? Do we want to ally ourselves with "old" or "new" money? What does that say about us as a family? 

    On our Spring Break trip to NYC (we spend money on experiences rather than on things) we visited the 3-story pavilion of bling known as the Gucci store, housed at the foot of Trump Tower. Great people watching! I struggled to relax my moral disapproval and appreciate the aesthetic of excess. But am I worsening my daughter's obsession by allowing her to set foot on tainted territory? Or giving her a chance to gradually become aware of the absurdity of it all? Is it possible that this oeuvre of ostentation is an art form in its own right? 

    I don't know... but I pray our daughter outgrows the obsession and learns to spend her (not limitless) money on enriching her inner life not on social-media-ready displays of wealth.

    You got a lot of great answers, and I will just add a couple suggestions, echoing another poster. If she needs a new pair of pants, figure out how much you think is a good amount of money for that, and tell her you are giving her that much, and then if she wants something more expensive, she can earn money for that or save up allowance or earn money ... or go thrifting and end up with money to spend on something else!

    Next level is you give her a monthly (pretty large) allowance and tell her it is for everything: clothes, spending money, gifts for friends, and she can spend it as she likes (and earn more if she wants -- babysitting, petsitting for now, "real" job in a few years). I started doing this with my daughter when she felt like I was giving her too little to buy birthday presents for her friends (I think it was in middle school and probably similar kind of peer pressure), and it worked well. She is now an independent young adult who lives within her budget.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Helping teen manage her money

July 2005

My daughter will soon be a junior at BHS. She has very little experience with money management I want to help her learn to manage a weekly allowence that will include her entertainment, snacks, and drug store needs. What are parents of kids this age doing to help their kids learn money management? How much allowance is reasonable for a 16 year old girl? Your thoughts and or ideas very much appreciated. Janet

For my two teens at Berkeley High, I got out of the 'human ATM' role by opening a checking account for each of them. I fund the account at the beginning of the month with a set amount ($150), and it is their responsibility to budget and make it last. The accounts have ATM cards so they can get cash or pay for things via EFT. If they run out of money, they have to bring lunch, walk, skip movies, etc. I am a co-owner of the accounts so I can go online and see where they're spending their money, transfer funds, etc. This is also extremely handy for my daughter's clothes shopping trips, where she'd rather go with her friends than with me, but I worry about her carrying a lot of cash. She pays with the ATM, and I transfer funds to cover her purchases. Lisa

See also: Caution about checking accounts for teens

19-year-old's constant requests for cash

June 2002

We had another uproar with our 19-year old (yes, 19!) who just can't live with the limits we want to place on what we are providing in the way of money. OK, we are a fairly affluent family - both of us are lawyers - but we support 4 kids (two in college) plus my husband's exwife and we have a nanny for the youngest, so despite the fact there is a lot of money coming in the door, there is a lot going out, too. The 19 year old in question just finished her freshman year at an extremely expensive school back east. Her older brother goes to a UC school. We told her when she was applying for schools that if she wanted to go to the expensive school, we would pay for tuition, room and board, books but that she would have to earn the money for her personal expenses. She agreed that was perfectly fair. She returned home on May 24 and isn't planning to start working until June 25. Since then we've had two HUGE arguments about money. First, that she wants money for food. We told her we would buy any groceries she wants - just put it on the list - but we weren't going to give her money (what she really wants is money so she can eat out with her friends). She ranted and raved but we held firm. Last night it was gas for her car (yes, she has a car of her own which we pay insurance but the gas is supposed to be her responsibility). Writing this I feel like she is SO spoiled I am embarrassed. She began sobbing and saying that she HAD to be able to drive around and it was SO expensive to buy gas, how could we be so cruel? The other issue was underwear - couldn't we puh-leeze buy her some underwear? I think she chose this on purpose rather than, for example, a pair of jeans, because it sounds so pathetic - how could your parents refuse to buy you underwear? Then she says that all of her friends have internships this summer which will help them with their careers which she knew she couldn't even consider because we were forcing her to work. My husband started to react to this total guilt trip, and suggested that we go over her budget with her. I don't think that's right - it's just a ploy on her part to get us to sign on for paying for something other than what we agreed. I've offered to pay her for babysitting the youngest child (a mere 5 hours of babysitting a week would yield $40 - a good tank of gas plus a pair of underwear every week!) and she semi-agrees but whenever I need her she has other plans. I just feel like we need to hold firm on this - we've made every reasonable concession and she just wants us to maintain a lifestyle for her where she gets everything she wants and doesn't have to work. What is wrong? Is she just a totally spoiled brat? Just immature? Any ideas on what to do other than what we've been doing?

Just a thought, but was your daughter pmsing or on her period during this uproar? As some of us know, it's often the end of the world during that time of the month. If she was under the influence of hormones, then maybe it would be easier to understand her seemingly desperate demands.

Just happened to see in Tuesday's Chronicle (6/18) on page A2 an article titled ,Kids able to figure out at an early age that nagging usually works. Survey says parents susceptible to whining. With a cute cartoon of a kid throwing a fit. Sounds like it works very well for your daughter. In the short run it's easier to give in to her; in the long run it's worse for all of you. It's especially not effective as an adult out in the world (I know - I was this way). Stick to your guns. She has MUCH more than her basic needs covered. In some ways as a parent of little means I actually think that not having a lot of money may be an advantage in a similar situation - there's nothing to discuss. It's obvious that you know EXACTLY what needs to be done. Seems like your husband may need more support in not caving. Joan

I encourage you to hold the line with your 19 year old daughter. If she needs money she can work. My daughter (almost 18) has an amazing sense of entitlement and I have to keep reminding myself that after she's 18 I don't have any responsibility for her financially. She's an ADULT, after all--- as she has been telling me for the last 6 months. If teens want to be adults (they assume there are lots of privileges accompanying this status) then they can take on the responsibilities that adults carry: making money to pay for your own needs and wants! By providing a place for her to live you are already giving her *a lot*. If she doesn't think so, give her a chance to find a place to live on her own..... Another frustrated mom

HI-- I felt so touched by your level of emotion. Just looking at the outside--the wrapper of the issues--it struck me that your daughter may be using these issues to seek connection with you & her father. Imagine all the experiences she's had alone in the past year. There must be so much she'd like to express to you & can't find the right way to put it out there. To ask for money is to ask you to nourish her, to take care of her, to make her your little girl again because she's had to be so responsible for herself all alone this past school year. I have all these same things with my 15 year old and certainly don't have any exalted level of patience, but sometimes, when it's not your child or family, insights come more easily. I think I would seek a space for intimacy with her--a way to share that's informative & non-judgmental. A good family or teen therapist would be a great gift to get closer t! o ! her. I'm not a professional therapist, just a mom. I remember at times when I was in my 30's during the late ''70's I so longed for some parenting. I believe our task is always to get closer to them & it's really challenging. Best to you.

Parent of 19 year old, I advise you stick to your rules. She does not need your money; she needs to find a balance in her life. She probably had a tough first year away and needs to know she is loved, cared for and will be taken care of; that she hasn't been removed from the family's protection (by way of financial withholding). I think you can address the feelings behind her demands rather than the demands themself. They are only a way of saying, tell me you still will care for me even though I've been away and the family has continued without me. When something that seems so unreasonable happens, I wonder why and think about the emotions behind the demand. Just a thought.... And sticking to the original agreement can say, I trust you can care for yourself, you can trust us to be dependable and to mean what we all agree to. We'll continue to help you set limits. K

To the parent of the 19 year old who wants more money: I encourage you to stand firm. Yes, your daughter does sound spoiled (especially since you're offering her chances to earn money). I completely understand your embarassment, but don't feel at all critical of you. I think our generation has been very confused about how much to give to our kids monetarily and these kids have grown up as a result with an out-of-whack sense of entitlement and expectation that is both individually and collectively harmful. It coincides with increasing materialism, wastefulness necessitated by continually updated products and technology, and a culture that eats out as entertainment, where a $3 coffee is an every day event rather than a treat.

All of a sudden, I started to sound too righteous to myself--as if I resist all this. I can't believe how much money I (and my family) spends on clothes, on things and on (gourmet) food. I can feel, and understand, the compulsion to acquire and to spend money. And my teenagers feel conflicted about money as well. I think that they are, on the one hand, grateful for all that they have, but on the other, they have always felt poor, and, I think, deprived, in comparison to their friends. It pains me that my daughter has stopped hanging around with a group of previously close friends because they always have more disposable money to spend than she does--I start to think we should give her more, or feel inadequate for not having more. But I also believe that learning about limits is probably the most important lesson we all, as humans, have to learn--it's very existential--goes to the heart of basic philosphical, psychological and theological dilemmas--it has to do, ultimately, with our individual mortality and the continued existence of the planet. (So stand firm--it's not about underwear.)

Your words are very much the way I feel about my 18 year old teenager. We try to provide her with the best, she has a truck, I pay for her insurance, buy food etc. We have exactly the same issues - she had a job and got fired for being late all the time and doesn't appear to be making much effort to find another. Due to much nagging on my part and her step-dad she is finally job hunting.

I was speaking to my mother about my daughter and she advised you need to cut her off and if she doesn't shape up tell her to leave the house. Like I did you brother. Apparently my younger brother had the same problems - no intentions of working - sleeping in until 3 o'clock in the afternoon. Anyway I am taking my mom's advice, as hard as it is, I am cutting her off haven't reached the point of asking her to leave.

Consequently we are having the same fights - just the other day she stole $10.00 of her 15 year old brother - which I remember my own brother doing to me - yet another argument ensued about the morality of stealing money - she gave it back in the end. Nevertheless, due to the support from my own mother I am sticking to my plan to cut her off. Yes I do sometimes feel guilty, but you have to remind yourself and her, that you love her and you will always be there for her, but she has to do her part.

I don't know, but I think its a struggle for teenagers - they want independence, but still cling onto mom and dad - ironically my brother (the one my mother cut off and asked to leave) is also complaining about his 18 year old son. He is now wondering what to do and remembers what my parents did to him - looking back with hind sight he agrees they did the right thing.

These are good kids we are talking about - as hard as it my seem if we stick to our plans with patience, your daughter, my daughter and all the other teenagers will come through in the end. Good luck to all of us.

To the parents whose 19 year-old daughter has just returned I have two suggestions: Why don't you loan her some living expense money until she gets her job. As adults, some of us have also had the experience of being between jobs (as your daughter) and broke while waiting for the first check. Sometimes our families have been in the economic position to help us out. The second suggestion is to pay her for chores around the house.

ABSOLUTELY stand firm!! If you give in now, you'll be supporting her in making easy or irresponsible choices for the foreseeable future. She is legally of age now and its time for her to begin becoming a responsible adult. Working during the summer for personal expenses is not asking alot for a 19 year old that you're footing the whole college bill for - she is definitely trying to guilt trip you (sounds like the last gasp of the little toddler in her threatening to hold her breath if she doesn't get what she wants!!). I'd tell her that IF she shows the initiative next year to obtain an internship that a stipend could be worked out, but that not working at all and expecting to be supported is just not happening. Maybe she's hanging out with a crowd that is more affluent than she is and whose future is to be the idle rich. If that's the case, she may also need a reality check about being from a family where folks WORK for a living.

Believe me, I'm not judging you for your spoiled daughter. I think many of us who are in the fortunate position of having $ to do for our children find it difficult to figure out just what the limits of doing should be. I have a middle schooler and increasingly I'm beginning to see that I will have to STOP buying him stuff when he ignores my suggestion that he make $ for his wants by walking dogs, cutting lawns, weeding, washing cars, and light babysitting. Money is coming too easily to him and he's beginning to see us giving him money as his right (sounds like that's where your daughter is). I now see that one of the biggest favors my father did for me was to insist that I pay for more and more of my wants starting in 9th grade (we were comfortably middle class but certainly my father worked hard and long hours for that privilege) - at the time I hated him for it when many of my friends had the family credit card to take boutique shopping a! nd! I was counting my babysitting money to see if I could afford to buy something on sale or in a discount store (though I developed a LOVE for bargains). But seeing my son makes me realize that experience really made me appreciate the link between working and having as well as the value of saving and deferred gratification and though its hard, I'm starting to say NO, if you want it you work for it. STAND YOUR GROUND. Karen