Just when you think you’re done with paying off your credit card debt from last year’s holiday purchases, you’re in the midst of gathering together tax forms when your 17-year-old presents you a nice, fat letter from the admissions office of her favorite – you hear the word expensive instead – college.
This is a stressful time of year for adults. And, well, when is there a carefree moment in the year for parents? The thought of funding an education today gives many of us chest pains and a better understanding as to why our parents carried that ever-present confused look on their faces when we were all teenagers. John Lennon said life happens while we’re busy making other plans, and the best laid out plans we’ve all had started before our children came home from the hospital. How many of us have planned on opening a college fund before his or her first birthday, only to see your first born is now a teenager and that fund is still only a plan.
Nicki Kern, our high school intern, takes us into the mind of that 17-year old teenager of ours. Turns out, kids are just as stressed, if not more. Planning out your future when you don’t yet have a solid understanding as to who you are seems like a near-impossible task, no matter how confident your child may be. There are some, the “knowing,” who are lucky enough. But, some of us 40-year olds are still learning who we are, and what we want to do when we grow up. And, when we look at the price of admission for some of these schools today, private schools charging more than your annual salary for just a year, you want to find a way to escape back to your G.I. Joes and Star Wars figures.
When it comes to money, most parents keep their kids in the dark. Naturally, when times make it difficult to rub two pennies together, you want to protect your child from the anxiety associated with it. A parent’s wish is to keep his child full of hope for the future, and when that child comes home with good grades, you want to provide the future he or she deserves.
Parents: What have we always told our children, when they find themselves worried about something? Talk to mom or dad. Well, it sounds like parents and children need to share some words. Talk to your kids about expectations and even the limitations placed upon you. Talk to a financial advisor. Talk to the college admissions office.
Also, listen to your child. Our kids are stressed out too, and they need someone to talk them down from the tree. Don’t be surprised if they start understanding you went through this too.
Then, lay down a plan together with your child. It’s the fear of the unknown that fuels the stress in us all. Stepping up and addressing any fear, no matter what it is we’re talking about, is the best way to erase it.