Money Talks with Minnie the Moocher
Minnie the Moocher was a 1931 jazz song about a woman who begged for a living. In our family, it reminds us of Sashenka, 16-going-on-3. All she talks about is money and I wonder if it may be our fault.
We don’t talk about finances non-stop. And we are not poor. So we try to strike a balance. We hope for our children to have some understanding of money, that it doesn’t grow on trees.
“Why would they do that?” we ask her.
“Oh, I don’t know,” she giggles.
Any job she can think of will net her millions, while doing practically nothing. Or, better yet, having her minions do her bidding. We parents do everything from discuss her unrealistic ideas, to ignoring her, to outlining balance sheets that explain how much money someone needs to have their basic needs met.
You know, a budget.
She doesn’t like the idea.
We give her situational ethics: you have the opportunity to make enough money to live on, doing an average kind of job. Or, you can make double the money doing a job that you would not normally accept for one reason or another, but you decide to take it because of the finances.
Watching her face, she tries to hide her grin as she meditates on the power of ka-ching, ka-ching. Money in all of its glory.
Who wouldn’t take double the money and run? she wonders.
Because it might be morally objectionable, like leaving your family for long periods of time, never creating true friendships nor having any kind of work-life balance, we inform her.
We all get that money is about need, not necessarily greed. Let’s be absolutely honest. It’s a necessity and more might be better than less.
But is the Russian orphan persona going to rule the day, or will the middle-class American young adult? Will Sashenka be able to grow up into her full potential, or take the easy way out, trying to trick, charm or con others into taking care of her, as though she had nothing to offer?
How do we turn Sashenka-the-Moocher into Sashenka-the-Strong?
One step at a time, reinforcing that she is braver than she believes, stronger than she seems, and smarter than she thinks. While money might turn her head or ours, we should never sell out simply to the highest bidder.
————-Tags: adoptees and money issues, adoption issues, careers for teens, how to budget for teens, learning to support yourself, money talk for teens, mooching off of others, situational ethics, unrealistic teen economics