I was recently interviewed for the February issue of Money Magazine,
a piece on how to address your teenager’s anxiety about the economic crisis. During the interview I asked the writer, Jennifer Barrett, what advice she was hearing from financial advisors and bankers – the money professionals. She told me one money manager advised parents to tell their teenagers there’s nothing for them to worry about, that everything’s ok.
Hardly financial advice. But psychological advice?
Well, l just blurted out: “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard! If your teenage kid isn’t worried about the economy, you’ve got bigger things to worry about! Because it means she isn’t reading the news, watching tv or
learning anything online! And if she doesn’t know what’s going on in the world, how is she going to be prepared to live independently in it?”
How could a teenager not be anxious? Every day there’s some new information about unemployment rising so much that even internships are hard to come by, colleges losing endowment money, untrustworthy adults running the world. Your teenager’s friend’s mother has lost her job, her friend’s dad has been hiding in his study hoping no one knows his professional life as he knew it is over, and you are walking around a ball of anxiety trying to act normal while checking prices on canned goods.
So what’s a parent to do? Teenagers are selfish. They want to know what all this has to do with them. Tell them. And then tell them a little bit about the part that doesn’t have to do with them. And then – here’s the most important part – discuss how their lives will be affected, and together come up with what they can do to help. Be specific (that always helps allay anxiety), keep it short (one or two small things), and remind them that, though they’re moving into the adult world, they’re not quite there yet. Meantime, the adults are taking responsibility. In your house, at least.
Oh, and check out Money Magazine. Let’s see what made it into the article – and what you think about it!
Copyright © 2009 Marlin S. Potash. All rights reserved.