Can a teen be financially independent?

Sure, but it's not easy, and is being financially independent really a teen's responsibility? Many teens work after-school jobs, but there is even some controversy about whether that is a good idea. For many parents, having their teens work helps teach them personal and financial responsibility, valuable skills they can use throughout life, gives teens new confidence and greater senses of independence, and can help teens make long-term decisions about professions they might find interesting and what sort of university to attend. However, those who feel that after-school work isn't such a good idea for teens point out that most teens who work a lot (at least 13 hours a week) often see their school work suffer as a result. These teens also have to give up other, more typical, teen activities; they can become sleep deprived as a result of being overscheduled; and they are exposed to more dangerous behaviors, such as smoking and drinking. So the first issue to think about is whether your teen should be working at all. Some teens may have the necessary responsibility and interpersonal skills to get hired, while some may not yet be ready.

If your teen is financially independent, depending on the laws in your state, your teen may then petition the court to become an emancipated minor. An emancipated minor is a legal status accorded to teens who can financially provide for themselves. (There can be other conditions needed as well; emancipation laws vary by state.) Once a teen becomes emancipated, his parents no longer have any financial obligation to care for the teen, but it also means the parents no longer have legal standing to make decisions for that teen. Therefore, parents really need to consider whether encouraging their teen to become financially independent is such a good idea. Knowing that your teen can pay for his/her college tuition may sound attractive, but it's also important to consider the overall consequences of pushing a teen to invest the time and energy needed to become financially independent.




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