Most parents will rave about the rewarding experience of raising their children. From seeing them take their first steps to teaching them how to talk, there’s nothing on the planet like being a parent.
And while most of the time the outcome outweighs the cost, being a parent is financially draining. There’s a lot to keep track of when it comes to being a caregiver. You need to feed and clothe them and buy supplies for school. There are also family vacations and Christmas gifts. You need to evaluate whether you have the money to raise a family before starting one.
Where things get really difficult is trying to predict how much your child will cost you when they enter their teenage years. Questions you weren’t thinking about suddenly crop up into the picture.
What car are they going to drive? Is my child covered under my car insurance? How do I keep track of it all? We’ll cover all these things below. Hopefully, these tips on the responsibilities of being a parent of teens will ease the stress just a little bit.
Love Is in the Air
One of the hardest things for parents is realizing that their little kid is turning into a grown adult. This means they are going to develop crushes on classmates, bring random flings over to the house, and ask for money to go to movies and dinners.
The problem is both emotional and financial. Talk to your adolescent about how you are struggling with this transitional phase. Ask them how they feel about dating and how you can be supportive while also setting boundaries for both you and them.
If they want to go out with a boyfriend or girlfriend a couple of times a week on your dime, that may be affordable. If it’s every night, perhaps ask them to get part-time work so they can share in the financial responsibilities.
Make sure they are receiving a solid sexual education either from you or their school teachers and curriculum. Talk about the consequences of unprotected sex and how making mistakes during their sexual awakening can affect them decades down the line.
Don’t try to stop your teen from exploring their new feelings for romance. Talk to them like the adults they are becoming and communicate about everything. Both parties will benefit from honesty and understanding instead of rash judgments. And when all else fails, talk to your fellow parents to see how they are handling these topics with their kids.
Supporting Your Child’s Dreams
Intimacy is not the only thing your child is going to bring into the household when they get into high school. They are also going to start throwing lots of different dream scenarios for their careers at you, and it can get overwhelming.
One day they want to be a doctor, the next they want to make money in Chicago or Los Angeles and become an entrepreneur in America’s biggest cities. Try to talk with them about realistic scenarios for their career aspirations. If they feel like they don’t have enough space in your house, maybe it’s time to flip your home and upgrade to a new property for the whole family.
The most important thing you can do is listen and take their goals seriously. Don’t shrug off anything they say, no matter how unrealistic you may think it sounds. Teenagers hate when their parents patronize them and make them feel immature.
See where they are coming from and try to work with them to alter their plans for their future. Try to make your child the best versions of themselves by compromising until you reach common ground. They may not appreciate it until they are older, but parenting isn’t about getting thank you’s from 16-year-olds.
Paying for Cars and Insurance
Driving is the most famous landmark event in adolescence. Parents worry that their child is going to get into an accident or break the rules. Kids get tired of being harassed about safety measures by all the adults in their lives.
Decide what car they are going to drive after they get their license. Most parents don’t have the money to buy a new one, and they let their teens drive one of their vehicles. One of the first things that can ease your financial situation is to ask your car insurance agent immediately how much it will cost to add a teenager to your plan.
This can become quite pricey, sometimes adding hundreds or thousands of dollars to your policy. See if you can do any bundles that your insurance company offers to knock the price down a little bit.
Whatever you do, always notify your company that you will have another driver in the family. If your teen crashes your car and they have not been added to your insurance coverage, your company may not cover the damage done in the wreck.
Talk to Teachers and School Employees
The biggest difficulty in your relationship with your teen is that you may not see them as often as when they were younger. This makes it harder for you to understand the changes they are going through. Think about who you can speak with that interacts with your teenager on a more regular basis during the week.
One of the best ways to do this is to go in for PTA meetings and parent-teacher conferences. Educators and school employees spend a lot of the day with their teenagers and may be able to shed light on their personality changes.
On the financial side of things, school counselors will also be able to give advice on the best colleges for your child and how to plan ahead for tuition. Loans are available for most families, but we’ve come to understand what a horrific long-term burden this financial aid has become for people years after they graduate.
Try to set aside a college fund when your kids are little and add just a little bit to it on a routine basis. This will help ease the financial tension for your family when it comes time to decide on whether your kids are going to go to college.
Maybe college isn’t for your teen, and that needs to be talked about as well. It’s all about staying flexible and not trying to plan out their life for them. As long as you keep everything open-ended and calm, your relationship with your son or daughter (and your bank account) will persevere any difficulty during adolescence.
Shawn Laib writes and researches for the auto insurance comparison site, AutoInsurance.org. He wants to help parents understand how to manage their auto finances during the transitional phases of their family life.