As many of you already know I have four kids, but three are pretty much independent. My oldest lives on her own and has for a few years. My boys are 16 and 18 and still live at home. They are both at the age where they can handle responsibilities and extra tasks with no supervision. Whenever possible I like to get them to make my life easier and run errands for the family. We do what we can to give our children a good life, so they can help out and pick up the slack when and where needed.
I am happy to say they are always good about helping.
My 16 year is old very tall and recently joined the senior basketball team. This means practice 3 x a week, a game once a week and weekends full of tournaments. This is a lot for anyone to commit to and to have to drive him around. Our oldest son stepped up and volunteered to drive his brother to the majority of these basketball events. He has a gym membership and usually goes to workout while he waits for him. As you can imagine, this takes a lot of driving and pressure off of my husband and I.
Last night we needed a few groceries and I was way too busy to drive into the city to get them and my husband was not feeling the greatest. So I sent my oldest son a list of what we needed and an eTransfer to cover the costs. He had 3 hours to keep busy while his brother had a game. He called and asked if he could buy himself dinner while he was waiting at the mall,we agreed but he had to use the money I sent, we were not sending more. This means he had to budget.
Now if you are a parent of teens you know all too well how much they eat. They eat and eat and eat. I really have no idea where it all goes, but it never ends.
I often argue with my kids when we go grocery shopping, because they throw in all kinds of stuff I did not budget for. Sometimes they ask and sometimes I agree. Other times I have a set budget and there is no room for extras. They give me a hard time and even as teens,make grocery shopping a nightmare. Sometimes.
I was eager to see how he would execute this task and get everything he needed on the list while still having money for dinner and gas.
A few hours later they arrive home leaving the groceries in the kitchen for me to see what was there.
As I unpacked the groceries he brought in I could not help but laugh. He bought really expensive cuts of meat, mid-level toothpaste and store brand packaged foods. This is the guy who always wants brand name, price never mattered to him before. The more I unpacked, the more I laughed. My husband called from the other room asking what I was laughing at. I looked around the corner holding the plain store boxes up for him to see. He instantly started laughing too.
Suddenly our son who has never really understood the concept of a budget and making a dollar stretch, was learning. He was learning to make decisions on the spot, follow direction and most of all, feed his family the best he could.
We commented about the store brand packages, juice boxes, granola bars, and other various snacks. He responded that he picked up the meat first then realized he only had X amount left to do everything else. I know to an adult this is normal day-to-day life and is just a part of our lives. But for a teen to learn this, it was a great teaching opportunity.
We all want our children to grow up and be decent adults who contribute to society in a positive way. We hope they can fend for themselves and survive in the real world. When it is time for them to leave the nest, all we can do it anticipate that the tools we gave them are enough. Giving your kids tasks and errands is how your teens become responsible adults.
I am interested to see if he gives me a break next time we go shopping knowing what it is like to stick to a budget. No more throwing in stuff and asking for the most expensive cookies!
For me this was a happy mom moment. I would love to hear yours!