Are you aware of the environment you’re creating between you and your teen when it comes to talking about money?
If you find that your teenager isn’t eager or even willing to speak to you about money, there’s probably a good reason as to why. You might be creating an environment in which they feel talked down to, misunderstood, or uncomfortable.
Here are three reasons that your teen might be shutting down when you try to talk to them about money and how you can make changes to improve the conversation.
You’re always in lecture mode
We’ve all done it. We plan to have a back-and-forth discussion with our teens about money and it turns into more of a one-sided lecture.
As parents, we’re all prone to this way of speaking to our kids, especially when it comes to money. However, no one likes being lectured or told what they should do.
When it comes to talking to your teenager about money try to approach the conversation as if you’re talking to one of your closest friends or work colleagues. You can try the following:
- Avoid taking an authoritative or know-it-all stance
- Avoid shaming, judging, or making assumptions
- Ask questions and promote a two-way conversation
- Be respectful and talk to them as an equal
You listen to respond not to understand
It’s often difficult for parents and teenagers to understand each other’s perspectives. We can get too wrapped up in our own thoughts and instead of trying to listen and understand our teenager, we do too much talking and teaching.
As the adults in this relationship, it’s up to us to explain the topic of money in a way that our teenagers can comprehend it. We can’t blame our kids for not understanding our message. We must own the outcome of these conversations. We need to try different ways of communicating until we find a strategy that works.
Storytelling is one method you can use to present money conversations in a way that is easy to understand. Share a story about a time you made a major money mistake. Ask your teenager what they would have done in your situation. Then talk about what you learned from this experience.
This strategy can be effective because it shows your teenager that you’re not perfect – you struggled to understand your finances and you don’t expect them to know everything.
It also demonstrates that it’s okay to mess up when it comes to money and to use our mistakes as a way to learn.
You’ve made money too emotional
For many, money is a loaded topic. It can bring up feelings of shame, guilt, anger, fear, or embarrassment. Often it’s us as parents who take the topic of money off of the table. We don’t want to talk about it because it makes us feel uncomfortable and then we pass down our emotional baggage to our kids.
If you want to break this cycle and prevent your kids from thinking that money is taboo, there are things you can do.
- Make money a safe topic. Make a point to talk about money often and in a calm manner.
- Be honest about your financial situation. If you’re going through a rough patch it’s okay to tell your teen, but try not to pass along any stress or fear.
- When your teenager has a question, always be willing to help them find the answer.
- Teach your teens that money is not inherently good or bad. Instead, it’s a tool. It’s what we use to buy the things we need and the things that we value.
It’s time to start a new money conversation
If your parents passed down their emotional money baggage to you, it’s time to break the cycle. Put the topic of money back on the table and make it something that’s easy for you and your teen to talk about.