After the water polo and swim seasons came to an end my junior year of high school, I decided that I would fill up my free time with a part time job. I applied at the Los Gatos Coffee Roasting Company and was hired the next week as a cafe employee. I worked one day a week and slowly moved my way up to a manager position, but it was only during my senior year that I became a barista. This was my dream upon entering the company and to finally have it come true felt refreshingly rewarding. With my new position came new responsibilities and exposure to a lot more money. I now work four days a week for a total of almost 20 hours. On top of my salary, I make over 100 dollars in tips. As a high school student, this is a lot of money. Naturally, my parents wanted to make sure that I was managing my money in a mature way.
However, there is a line between advising and controlling. In my experience, this line can often become blurred for parents. While I think that open conversations are not only necessary but also extremely helpful, parents need to understand that, at the end of the day, the money that we make is ours to spend or save as we please. Parents are overly involved because they assume that we will spend it on useless things or, in some cases, illegal substances. While these concerns are genuine and should be taken into consideration, this is a time in our lives when we should be figuring out on our own how to manage our money. The only way that a person will learn a lesson is through personal experience. If you lose your money, spend it all on food, or blow through it on a day trip to San Francisco with your friends, the feeling of looking at an empty bank account will stay with you more than an unproductive screaming match with your parents at the dinner table.
Another prominent issue that arises from parents being overly involved in the money cycle is the unsolicited judgment that they cast on their kids for large purchases. If you have been saving up for a large purchase, you should be able to spend the money without receiving backlash from your parents. As students in high school, we value very different things than our parents. If you are putting in the hours and working towards a goal, that should be acknowledged by your parents.
Parents are welcome to offer financial advice to their kids. However, it should be done in a judgment-free open conversation with the goal of teaching, not forcing their child into a decision that they do not want to make. The money is in the hands of the person making it – that is the bottom line and it should be respected.