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Growing up - A long road

April 18, 2013

Steve McGoughOne thing my wife and I have always been committed to is saving for our sons’ college expenses.  In addition to tuition, we’ve also agreed to pay for living expenses and their weekly meal plans. For all this, all we ask of them is to follow a few basic rules:

  • Maintain good grades for all classes. Grades of C or below results in a $2,500 tuition refund back to us.

  • The weekly food allowance is the equivalent of the college’s least expensive plan offered.

  • All other expenses are on their own by either working part time or spending wisely.

Our sons are very fortunate, but sometimes I wonder if they fully recognize it. When I went to pay Ryan’s tuition online this semester, I noticed an extra charge of $210 for three parking citations.   My wife and I have had many conversations about girls maturing faster than boys, so I’ve tried to be patient through the years, but this was the last straw.

When I asked my son about the charges, his response was completely unexpected—he accepted full responsibility and promised to pay for the charges.  He even requested that we deduct money from his weekly food allowance as a solution.

I‘ve read that brain development in kids does not complete formation until the early 20’s, something I’ve tried to keep this in mind with my sons.  I wasn't happy about Ryan's tickets, but I'm glad he accepted responsibility and came up with his own solution.

Ryan phoned me after the third week of reduced food allowance and said, “Dad, I’m broke.” I responded with, “You’re a college kid—you’re supposed to be broke!”  Sure, I could have sent him money.   But doing so would’ve let him take a big step backwards and I knew he wasn’t starving.  Instead, I wanted him to understand and accept the consequences of his actions.  It was his solution and it’s all part of growing up.

If you have teenagers like us, hang in there.  Their maturing is sometimes a long road with unexpected twists and turns, but they need our love and support.  Hopefully, one day, it will all be worth it.


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