Great Expectations: How To Talk To Your Teen About Responsibility

Teenagers sometimes think that their job in life is to go to school, talk on the phone, hang out with friends and play video games. While this is true for some, there are responsibilities that teens should take while at home so that they can be successful in college or a career. There are a few ways to talk to teens about being responsible without them completely tuning you out.


As teens see that other kids their age have name brand clothing, shoes and other items that you might not be able to purchase, it might be time to start talking about a job. Even at the age of 14 or 15, teens can start mowing lawns or babysitting in order to earn money. Once they turn 16, they can often start applying for jobs at fast food restaurants and grocery stores. You need to teach them about getting to work on time and maintaining a good attitude no matter what is asked while on the job.

Great Expectations: How To Talk To Your Teen About Responsibility


A car is often an important part of the life of a teenager. You might be able to help with some of the money to get a car, but your teen will probably be a little more responsible driving and maintaining the vehicle if he has to pay for the gas, insurance and upkeep. Offer to match what the teen saves from a job to pay for a car so that he will have to save the money as well. If your teen can’t keep gas in the car while going to visit friends, you need to teach him to do extra work around the house to earn additional money for gas. If the insurance isn’t paid, then the car doesn’t need to be driven until the teen understands that it’s a legal requirement.

Saving Money

This is something that even adults have trouble with. When your teen starts working, talk to him about putting money in a bank account. Try to help set up an account that has a limit on how much money can be taken off a debit card each day so that he doesn’t overdraft the account. Talk to your teen about putting a percentage of what is made in a savings account for emergencies and if there is a large purchase in mind, such as a bigger television or an apartment after graduating.

Making Mistakes

Although it seems harsh, one of the ways that your teen will learn about responsibility is by making mistakes. This doesn’t mean that you should allow certain behaviors, such as drinking or doing drugs. These behaviors can lead to long-lasting consequences, both legal and otherwise. Many teens will experiment with drugs and alcohol, though the results of this experimentation can be disastrous. Your teen could be charged with operating a vehicle after underage consumption (OVAUC) if they consume alcohol and get behind the wheel (you can read more here). You need to teach your teen about the consequences of the decisions made, and if those choices are made, then your teen will need to face those consequences.

Whether you have a young teen who is just entering the world of high school or an older teen who is thinking about college, all teenagers need some kind of responsibility. This could be in the form of a job, even if it’s chores around the house, or saving money after it’s earned. Make sure your teen knows the limits of the home and that you will always be there for encouragement.