Hi Rabbi Ross. I was wondering if you can advise me on something. My parents are struggling financially. They try to hide this from me and my two younger sisters, but I can tell something is up. I’m a fourteen-year-old boy by the way. My question is, should I get a job tutoring so I can help my parents out. I don’t want to insult them but on the other hand, I really want to help them out. I figured out that I can make almost $200 a week. Should I take the job? Private – Woodmere
This is one of the more impressive emails that I’ve received over the past few weeks. You sound like a very mature young man, and I’m sure your parents get a lot of Nachas from you.
Your parents are very smart people. In most cases, it’s much better NOT to tell your children when you’re going through any financial difficulties. Stress can be very overwhelming, and children have a lot on their heads without having to worry about money. I’ve heard many adults comment, “Kids have it so simple”, but it’s really not true. School, tests, social issues and more can all be stressful parts of childhood. Adding financial worries to the mix can really cause serious issues.
When parents DO need to tell their children, it should be done in a simple non-stressful way. For example, a friend of mine lost his job a few years ago. He called in his older kids and told them as follows: “I’m not sure if you’ve realized, but I’ve been home the past few days. I’m no longer working for ABC, and I’m in the middle of finding a new job. Therefore, for the next couple of weeks we’re going to be a little more careful about what we buy. We’ll be okay, and I’ll have a new job IY”H very soon.”
You mentioned that you could get a job tutoring. If you can pull it off without overdoing it, I think it’s a great idea. However, I don’t think you should be using the money to help your parents, rather, you should be saving your income. You can use your own money if you’re purchasing something for yourself.
It is very responsible that you want to help out and having a strong work ethic is a great way to succeed in life. There are a few people I know that feel it’s important for teenagers to chip in, since it helps them understand and appreciate the value of money. There is a family in Monsey that has all their children over thirteen pay 10% of the electric bill. This way they understand the consequence of leaving the lights on, or the AC running.
Personally, I would think most parents would want you to save your money. Ask them to help you open a junior savings account and start depositing your earnings.
Wishing your family Nachas and Parnassa,
Have a good Shabbos!
Rabbi Yitzie Ross is a Rebbe and has been working with parents and kids for many years. You can read more about him in the "about" section.