Payback Time for Kids?

Yesterday morning, I was in the local Apple Store for a training session.  Seated near me at the Genius Bar was a very nice woman who was waiting for her  iPhone to be repaired.  We began chatting and she subsequently shared with me that the phone was her 14 year old son's.  He had been pushed, fully clothed with the iPhone in his pocket, by a friend into a swimming pool.  This was the second strike against the iPhone in her book since her son had racked up $1500 in roaming charges on a trip the prior month while emailing his girlfriend.

The conversation left me thinking about I would have handled the situation had it occurred in my home, with my boys.  The truth is, I can't even justify that expense for an iPhone, so they will never get one until they grow up and buy it for themselves.  But the larger issue is this:  when accidents happen, as they frequently do, how do we handle them as "teaching moments" for our children?  Do we hand them a replacement and a stern dressing down?  Do we force them into manual labor until the debt is repaid?  Do we ground them?  Do we simply buy them a new iPhone and an unlimited data plan?

I know what the answer is in my home.  We actually discussed this at the dinner table last night and it made for some interesting conversation.  Both boys agreed – that kid's Mom is much nicer than I am!

Home-work for Today:

  • Just for kicks, talk about this subject with your own family.  What are your arrangements for children's purchases?  What type of "work" do your kids do to earn spending money in your home?  What would your children do if one of their favorite toys or items were destroyed due to the negligence of a friend or their own carelessness?

On the Bookshelf:
Financial Peace Jr.: Teaching Kids About Money! : "Cool Tools" for Training Tomorrow's Millionaires!

Reading Room Resources:


Lisa Hendey, Catholic wife and mom, is the founder and webmaster of and the author of A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms: 52 Companions for Your Heart, Mind, Body and Soul and The Handbook for Catholic Moms: Nurturing Your Heart, Mind, Body and Soul. Lisa writes for several online and print publications, enjoys speaking around the country and hosts the Catholic Moments Podcast. Visit her at

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