As the US economy comes to grips with an economic downturn felt in nearly every household, the effects on teenagers are often overlooked.
As the nation's jobless numbers continue to rise we tend to forget the teenager who counted on a summer job to help pay for his first new car. As gasoline and food prices rise, the effect on the teenager's spending money can seem devastating and appear to be the end of the world from his perspective. It is important for parents to share economic conditions with their teenagers from both a national and personal level.
Sometimes a teenager runs away, believing the family situation is hopeless due to a change in the economic status of the head of household. The teenagers may believe that they are part of the problem and have nothing to offer as part of the solution. Let me emphasize West Shield's experience in location and mediation services for runaway teenagers.
Here are four significant ways parents can help teens survive and thrive in an economic downturn.
1. Speak immediately and honestly about the family financial and employment situation. Be sure to relate the personal situation to the economy. Provide security for your teenagers in the form of assurance that the economic situation is not their fault. You cannot predict when it will end, only that as a family you will get through it.
2. Be firm about spending changes that will need to be made. Allow reductions across the board. Prioritize what is needed most by whom. Explain your decisions but make them firm, based on need and not personal reactions.
3. Assist your teenager with income producing ideas such as a dog walking service, grocery delivery, mowing lawns, etc. Allow your teenagers to contribute a percentage to the household budget and keep a portion for their own "extras."
4. Budget a fun family activity at regular intervals to keep everyone motivated.
The main goal is to keep teenagers knowledgeable as to the affects of the economic downturn without imposing guilt or blame. Many parents are frustrated by the painful effect the lack of financial resources has on their teenagers. No parents want to see their child unhappy. Communication is the key"
About the Author:
Allen Cardoza is the President and Founder of West Shield Adolescent Services, an international transport and mediation service for teenagers and families in crisis. He hosts the new Internet radio show, Answers for the Family on LATalkradio.com, Monday's at 11:00AM (PST). Allen is a licensed private investigator, an instructor of Non-Violent Crisis Intervention and certified by the National Crisis Prevention Institute, Newport Beach, CA, 800-899-8585, firstname.lastname@example.org