I am so not ready for this. He’s probably going to screw it up. Maybe not in a huge way. He can recover. It will be a great lesson.
Read that again. Does that resonate with you in any area of your tween or teen’s life? If so, she is ready for a new responsibility. What is holding her back? Could it be you?
This exact scenario played out in my mind and caused me to realize that I was keeping my 14-year-old son from learning a valuable skill. He had been babysitting the neighbors’ kids and making a decent amount of money. Every week I would request payment from the dad through Venmo. Depending on how many days he worked and how many hours, I would calculate the amount and send the neighbor a Venmo request. It dawned on me that McGuire should be the one doing this. Not only because it takes my time and is something I don’t enjoy doing, but also because he will be better off if he owns this responsibility. As Amy Morin, LCSW, writes for Verywell, “Make sure you’re investing time into teaching your teen life skills. Practical skills, like how to do the laundry and how to cook meals, are important. But it’s also essential to make sure your teen knows how to manage his money and understands how to communicate with other people effectively.”
I am scared to death. It is real money. He could blow it. What is the worst thing that could happen? I am here. I can have a period of supervision during which I check and recheck his accuracy. So tomorrow, I’m going to sit down with him and take the next step. We’re going to have a discussion about the gravity of this responsibility, and about his role in keeping up with his hours and requesting money from the neighbor. I’m going to open a Venmo account with him. (According to the Venmo user agreement, you must be 18 in order to have an account. In the case of minors, if a parent is the custodian of their bank account, the parent is actually the Venmo account holder. So it is still under your oversight until you officially turn it over at 18.) I am going to try not to take the phone away from him while he types in the account number and important information. I can already feel my stomach filling with butterflies. I am going to let him link his savings account with Venmo. Again, I feel terrified. Godzilla-sized parent fears are circulating everywhere. But I will be strong. I will crush those fears with the knowledge that I am raising a responsible adult. I know he can do this. He will need help and he will have questions. But I know he can do it. And I am going to let him.
What is it that you are holding onto that your teenager could be doing for herself? How can you prepare her for adulthood by taking a step back and allowing her to take a step forward? Now is the time. In every situation of handing over responsibility, it is important to have a discussion about whose responsibility it is and how the transition will occur. Teach your teen how to do what it is you are asking her to do. Let her know she can always ask you questions and come to you for advice. And even if you are not 100% confident she can handle this responsibility, step back and let her try. You’ll be glad you did.