NEW CASTLE — Dear Dave: I’m a single dad with two teenagers at home. My 15-year-old son wants to open a checking account of his own, but he doesn’t want me or anyone else to have access to it. Should I just let him do this and suffer the consequences I know are coming? — Tim
Dear Tim: When it comes to 15-year-olds, as a parent you have every right to say, “My food, and my roof. You do what I say.” With kids this age you never know what you’re getting. Half the time you’re talking to a 35-year-old, and the other half they’re 5 again. At that age, I think you let them do, or not do, these things based on their ability to perform well in life. To the extent they behave and show some sense, you lengthen then rope and give them more freedom and privileges. If they act like doofuses, you shorten the rope. Remember, no is a complete sentence. Can you tell I’ve raised teenagers? If it were my son, I’d sit him down and gently explain that he doesn’t have the capacity or knowledge to manage this idea by himself just yet. You wouldn’t turn your child loose behind the wheel of a car the moment they wanted to drive, right? So make yourself a part of the experience by teaching him to handle money wisely. Then, as he matures in financial understanding, you can give him more leeway.
If he wants to go dramatic on you, let him. And remind him that for every minute he’s in drama mode, that’s less leeway he’s getting in this matter and every other one in his life. In other words, the more mature you act, son, the better your existence is going to be. No, at 15 he’s not opening a checking account on his own. — Dave