Jessica turns 18

Jessica turned 18 today.  There is something life changing about saying “I have an 18 year old daughter”.  Haven’t figured out exactly how that is life changing yet but I know there is something there.

She is now an adult, although she doesn’t get to drink legally, she does get to vote.  She also should be able to make her own decisions about how she leads her life. 

When we were at school one night this past autumn, one of her teachers gave us really great advice.  I can’t remember what we were discussing and how he came to say this but what he said stuck.  He basically said, there is nothing you can do now, you have done your job, the rest is up to her.  He is exactly right.  At 18, she will ask our advice, she will listen to what we have to say, but she will make her own decision on whatever it maybe.  This is what you want for your kid, that they have learned to be an adult.

So, in celebration of adulthood, we gave Jessica a budget.  In 9th grade ( Josh is not there yet ), we gave the girls each a debit card with an amount that was deposited in to it the first day of each month.  That money is for their day to day needs as well as weekend entertainment.  It is up to them to make it last the month, if they don’t, they are out of luck because no more money until the 1st of the next month.  Both Emily and Jessica have always made it work.  It has taught them how to budget. 

When I was their age, I had 3 jobs.  That is what fed my livelihood but the jobs they have had are community service oriented or internships ( no pay ) and that is ok.  Different times, different kids, different family. 

Jessica is now getting a monthly budget which will allow her to pay for everything.  Clothes, fixing her broken camera, going out, new winter coat, Metrocard, etc.  We still provide the roof over her head and dinner if she eats at home but everything else is on her.  She is starting to work again, at an internship, but eventually she will make money and then her budget will go down based on the cash she is bringing in. 

She is excited because it makes her even more independent.  I don’t have to be the one to say you don’t need that because she can decide that by herself.  Learning the value of money, understanding how to balance a budget, realizing what things cost, setting priorities for what she needs, etc. 

18 and you know what you want but first you have to be sure is it what you need. 

Comments (Archived):

  1. Geoff

    Congratulations to Jessica! She can drink legally in the UK now 🙂 My daughter ( )turned 18 last year and you are so right about parenting. I certainly view my role now as an advisor, hotelier 🙂 and friend. We are going to walk the Inca trail together in June, when she finishes her three months working in Peru. I find the prospect so exciting, to be able to share my love of walking with her.

  2. Shelley

    I congratulate you on doing such a good job of teaching your kids to live within a budget. Such an important life skill. I had a friend who tried this with her son through high school, but every month he would fail and every time his parents would bail him out. Now he’s a sophomore in college and still failing – at his budget (maxxed out credit cards), at classes (didn’t go), and at making it in college. They just had to go and pack him up and bring him back home. He’s 20 now. I feel bad for them and him, but somehow he was never responsible to live with the consequences for his choices. I’m thankful that my own two sons (college age and 24) seem to be doing well living independently as well.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Bailing him out the first time was the first mistake they made. Everyoneneeds to learn by their mistakes and a little disappointment isn’t such abad thing.

  3. daryn

    Congratulations to you both! I love the teacher’s words of wisdom…

  4. Susan Collins

    Congratulations on your daughter’s 18th birthday. The person you mentioned at your daughter’s school sounds very insightful. We’re looking at schools for our daughter now. Which one did your daughter attend?

    1. Gotham Gal

      All our kids to go Little Red Elisabeth Irwin.

  5. chefbikram

    hi GG, two questions: first, you mention that Jessica has an internship. how did she go about securing it? and did you read the WSJ piece about internships? it was about services that charge a very large amount to get kids top-notch internships. i believe these services are more for college students….second, has Jessica decided on a college? i ask because i am interested on your thoughts on the process. i attended georgetown and as an alum i interview high school students applying to the school. i really enjoy it. it keeps me young :)erin

    1. Gotham Gal

      Internship opportunities came through us. We know the people and put her intouch with them. Then it was up to her. What can I say?Hasn’t decided on college yet but the process sucks. Stressful is anunderstatement. Even if you had the credentials and are the right kid for aparticular school, it is still a crap shoot. I think that is what makes theprocess the most frustrating. You are competing not only with more kids forfew slots, you are also competing with the foreign students. My guess isthat education is going to change drastically over the next couple of yearsdue to the economy and the competition will not be as fierce because therewill be growth in state schools and opportunities in internet basededucation.