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Response to "Pooling resources"

Posted by Robin Abrahams  September 14, 2012 03:59 PM

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Not a lot of responses to Monday's question, from an LW who was frustrated that his plan of buying a pool for his daughters' social lives was working out a little too well, to the detriment of the family finances. The consensus was that this should be a learning opportunity for the daughters, which I thought was a terrific approach. In a longer comment, JoGeek wrote: 

This is part of the territory; you can have the house where everyone hangs out and you can keep an eye on the kids...or you can have them elsewhere and not have to pay for it. There are ways to mitigate it, but you simply cannot have it both ways. I like the suggestions above about involving the teenagers. Too many parents shelter their kids from learning financial responsibility when the opportunity presents. I would suggest tracking groceries and other costs for a few months (if you aren't already) and find out exactly what it does cost you to feed and entertain their friends. Take the opportunity to discuss budgeting with them! If you simply can't afford it, sheltering them from that reality and resenting them as a result is the worst possible solution. Then designate a fridge and freezer shelf (or pick up a used fridge and set it up in the garage or family room). Set aside cupboard space and fridge/freezer space that is specifically for them and their friends. Grant them a weekly "entertainment budget" and take or send them shopping to fill those designated spaces. 

(Emphasis mine. If you don't teach your kids about money in the home, people, they'll have to learn about it in the Street.)

thisisdumb09 made a good point: 

Of course they seem ungrateful, but if this same group of kids feels that your house is their house, they might not even realize they are guests. My husband's group of friends is pushing 30, and they still root through each other's (and each other's parents) cabinets as if it's their house. 

I think I got a question from one of your husband's friend's wives this week, tid09! bluemoose suggested bringing the friends in on the problem-solving as well: 

Consider planning ahead, and doing something like schools do with Kleenex and other classroom items -- ask the kids to bring over a towel each to leave there for the summer, have them string a line and be responsible for hanging up the towels to dry. Have everyone bring some snacks or throw in some cash to a kitty that you then use to supply snacks -- and let one of your daughters (or all of them!) manage it and learn some money management skills. Get them all involved so that this problem, which is a good one to have, becomes an opportunity to help create good citizens. 

Good ideas, everyone. I hope the LW will implement them next summer. Have a good weekend!
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Welcome to Miss Conduct’s blog, a place where the popular Boston Globe Magazine columnist Robin Abrahams and her readers share etiquette tips, unravel social conundrums, and gossip about social behavior in pop culture and the news. Have a question of your own? Ask Robin using this form or by emailing her at missconduct@globe.com.
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Robin Abrahamswrites the weekly "Miss Conduct" column for The Boston Globe Magazine and is the author of Miss Conduct's Mind over Manners. Robin has a PhD in psychology from Boston University and also works as a research associate at Harvard Business School. Her column is informed by her experience as a theater publicist, organizational-change communications manager, editor, stand-up comedian, and professor of psychology and English. She lives in Cambridge with her husband Marc Abrahams, the founder of the Ig Nobel Prizes, and their socially challenged but charismatic dog, Milo.

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