Bring your daughter back to the real world

Converting the Female Teen Diva

by Amy L. Thomas

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There are many pressures on teen girls today, and one of them is the idea that they have to get everything they want. Not long ago, there were a couple of supposed reality shows on television. One depicted extremely wealthy teens living in a beachfront town; they seemingly did not work or go to school. They shopped, went for manicures and went out to dinner in limousines. The other show broadcast the sweet sixteen parties of ultra-rich young people, the likes of which cost at least a few hundred thousand dollars, excluding the Mercedes or BMW that was usually given to the child at the end of the show.

As a parent, it is your job to bring your daughter back to true reality, which are your own household finances. While it may be easier to get her everything she wants, it will not do either one of you any good. As an adult, you cannot go out and purchase anything and everything you want, and if you are frugal and want to stretch your dollar, I am sure that you sacrifice quite a bit. The same can be taught to your teen daughter, and this is a lesson that will last a lifetime. She most likely will not thank you now, but know that the lesson of what you are teaching will be something she recalls time and time again.

I have a daughter who wanted everything new; everything had to be from the coolest stores. She wanted the most expensive clothes and all of the latest gadgets and trinkets. Her mantra was that everyone else had these things. She was not asking for anything unusual. This was just "the way things are." That is when I started to draw the line.

I reminded my princess that all of the clothes she wore for the first ten years of her life were either given to us from friends or bought at Goodwill or a consignment store. And she looked great, very fashionable. Why should I shop at thrift stores for myself and then go to the Mall and spend $75 for a pair of jeans for her? She rolled her eyes and whined that she was going to be laughed at. So I took stock of our situation and came up with a plan. I wanted to make sure that my daughter learned now that being frugal does not mean that you have to give up fashion or having a sense of style.

I had my daughter make a list of her material priorities, listing them one by one. Then I had her go over them and I asked her to go over the list again with me. I asked her some questions about why that was important to her, and was it something that she really wanted, or was it just because she thought it would be cool to have it. We wiped out about half of the list with that one exercise.

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Then the scary part began. It was back to school time, mainly a period of dread for most parents. It certainly does not conjure up fond memories for me. Long lines at the dressing rooms, harried parents and demanding kids are not my idea of a good afternoon in late August. So I gave up all control to my daughter. I gave her cash equal to what I believed was fair to spend for some new school clothes. I told her it was up to her what she bought. I would not try and influence anything, but I was not going to give her anything else for clothes until the holiday season. She immediately went to the Mall and entered the "coolest" store where she was able to afford one pair of jeans, one tank, one skirt and a sweatshirt. Flushed with happiness, she went home and began the school year. She had two outfits. The third day she had to wear something from the last school year, and the lesson began sinking in. I stayed true to my word and did not give her any more money or clothing that fall and winter.

The next spring, my daughter asked if she could get some new clothes, but could we instead first go to Goodwill and the thrift stores in our area so she could get more for her money. She could probably find lots of great things there to wear, and who cares if someone had worn it before her. I almost fainted, but recovered in time to start up the car and make a day of it.

She still keeps a list of non-clothing items that she would like to have as well, but she knows that she is not going to get all of them and some she will have to earn herself with odd jobs. I asked her recently why she had a change of heart, and she said that it just did not feel right having someone else buy things for her. She wanted to get them for herself, and if that meant waiting longer for them, it was worth it. The Diva has learned and come off her pedestal for at least a little while.

Take the Next Step

  • Should your teen have a clothing allowance?
  • Help your teen get a smart financial start. Compare savings and money market account rates and open an account for them today.
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