How Teen Jobs Construct Budgeting Abilities: Cash in ADHD Palms
The nice thing about my kids getting old enough to have a job? Now they can afford to pay for their own mistakes.
When the children were young, Laurie and I taught them to get a job as early as possible. Upon hearing of a snow cone shack ready to hire 15-year-olds, Laurie Isaac set up an interview and within a few weeks he received his first paycheck. We took him to the bank and helped him open a debit account. And so began his obsession with spending his paycheck.
“Can I join your gym?” He asked me.
“Son,” I said. You’re on the soccer team. Don’t you train every day? “
“Then why do you want a gym membership?”
“So that I can train more.”
“Why don’t you work harder in the school’s weight room?”
[Get This Free Download: What Are Your Teen’s Weakest Executive Functions?]
He looks at me like he’s thinking. A stranger might think he’s thinking about what I said, but I know he’s really thinking this: should I ask mom or just wait a week and ask dad again like that conversation never happened because maybe he won’t remember? Which of course happened the following week. And the week after. Until I finally took him to my gym.
“You give them your debit card. To the right?”
“Of course,” he said. “That was my plan.”
I’m sure another part of his plan was actually going to the gym, which he did a couple of times. But most evenings and weekends, when he wasn’t working in the snow cone hut, he chilled on the couch. I never asked him if he should go to the gym because this was my place – the haven where I could spend some alone time. I also never asked him about payments because he wanted to and paid with his money.
Finally, after several months had passed, the gym called to tell me that Isaac was overdue with his monthly fees. I texted him to call the gym and fix his account and while he had her on the phone he had to cancel the membership. I thought he was going to push back harder, but when they told him he had to pay $ 100 he was convinced.
[Read: How to Spend Less When the ADHD Brain Wants More]
“That’s three shifts!” He told me.
“And how often did you go?” I asked him.
“Uh,” he said, “I don’t know,” which means that he knows but doesn’t want to tell me.
Up to this point, I was the one who blew up the credit card for fines, late fees, overdrawn lunch accounts, etc. As that burden was lifted from my shoulders, I looked forward to the new burden of watching my kids make their own knuckleheads decisions, which is way sooner than saying “no” repeatedly.
Isaac wants $ 300 headphones. Vivianna wants to upgrade her iPhone, which works fine. Jayden wants to see how Door Dash works. “Sure children!” we say. “How much is in your account?”
You could mumble something to yourself or pass us a huge stack of $ 1 bills. If the latter is the case, we’ll buy the item for you. However, we are not the bad guys for saying “no”. We also don’t suffer out of pocket when we say “yes”. And the kids learn valuable lessons about budgeting that never caught on until the money was theirs. It’s a win-win situation!
Teen Jobs: Next Steps
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