How should you teach your teen about the recession?

Chances are that the reason your teen wants to know about the recession is because you've refused to buy some new gadget or new must-have item of clothing. Actually, even without the recession, a necessary part of life is learning that we can't have everything we want. If teens learn that their parents can still be happy while living with basics and eating at home instead of going out to eat, they'll have learned a very important lesson for their own lives called living within one's means. Over the past 20 years, parents have been indulging their children with more material possessions than they need and the recession is giving us all a chance to reassess this way of parenting.

Unfortunately, we as parents may have been setting an example of "buy whatever you want right now" with our credit cards, and we need to share with our teens how we are prioritizing our expenses, paying with cash, and choosing to eliminate frills in life that we really can manage without. Teenagers who want more than what you can afford, whether it's wanting to talk a lot on the cell phone or to buy a new pocketbook when they already have a few perfectly good ones, can be encouraged to get a job to pay for these extras. When they work for their money, they're usually more budget-conscious. If you or your spouse was laid off, and your teenager has a job and wants to contribute to family expenses, that should be encouraged, as well.

Some teens have caught on to the new economic situation and now frequent second-hand shops when they want to refresh their wardrobe, realizing that expecting their parents to shell out hard-earned cash for designer fashions is no longer feasible. If, however, your teens are anxious that the family will be losing their house or will no longer be able to afford food, reassure them that when you all cut down on expenses, you expect that you'll make it through the recession eventually, with the house and the family intact.




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