TEENS: Sixteen-year-old Sarah from Seattle, Washington, has a part-time job after school that pays her $35 a week. Her parents decided that since she was now earning her own spending money, they would discontinue her $15 a week allowance. Sarah thinks that this was unfair because she feels she is being punished for having a job.
I agreed with her and suggested that the parents put their $15 a week into a savings account in Sarah's name. I also encouraged Sarah to add $5 or $10 per week into this account and watch her money grow!
I thought this was a reasonable answer and so did the teen readers. Not one of you wrote to say that I had rocks in my head. However, the parents were a different story. I received over 50 letters from parents saying that I blew it. But I haven't changed my mind yet. I'm giving the matter some more consideration. While I'm deep in thought, I think you might enjoy some responses from these parents:
DR. WALLACE: I'm a parent and I usually agree with your advice to young people. However, providing an allowance in addition to funds earned from a part-time job creates a false sense of financial security. The important lessons necessary for financial survival are not being learned.
My teenage son does not receive an allowance in addition to his part-time job. I do not consider my withholding an allowance from my working son as a punishment. I feel I am doing him a favor. — Kevin, Oakland, Calif.
DR. WALLACE: I simply can't agree with your advice to Sarah. Working, earning money, budgeting, and saving are the ways she must cope when she is on her own. To give her a false impression early on that there is always going to be a financial safety net for her when she overspends is erroneous. Paying her own way will give Sarah dignity based on her first bit of independence and personal accomplishment. — William, Houston, Tex.
DR. WALLACE: Sarah feels that she is being punished for working. That's negative thinking. Actually, she is being rewarded by receiving a salary for working. — Mom, Chicago, Ill.
DR. WALLACE: Sarah should consider herself very fortunate to have received a $15 per week allowance. I have a 16-year-old son and a 15-year-old daughter and I do not allow them to have part-time jobs because I want them to get superb grades. Therefore, they spend much time in study. Each of my children receives $5 per week allowance and neither complains. But when they do work during summer vacation, their allowance is suspended. — Mother, Jackson, Miss.
DR. WALLACE: As you know, money is scarce. Sarah should be lucky she has a job. Forget the allowance. She should give her parents $15 a week to help with family expenses. — Father, Atlanta, Ga.
DR. WALLACE: Tell Sarah she is fortunate that she received an allowance up until now. I am a single mom and have two teenage daughters. I supply all of their needs and they are grateful. The word "allowance" in our house is never mentioned and it never will be. — Dolly, Phoenix, Ariz.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. E-mail him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.