Just before we left for church this past Sunday, I came down to see both my charming, intelligent, good-hearted and level-headed teens “dressed” and ready to go. I was pleased. There they were, no complaints and already had breakfast with 10 minutes to spare before we had to walk out the door. Then I saw what they were wearing to church. Clean, yes. Appropriate, not so much.

I made a few suggestions, the gray or purple sweater, over a nice top? How about the darker jeans sans the store-bought holes? Just a few helpful suggestions so they knew what I wanted.

They were flabbergasted that I was even asking for a change. Really, you should have seen their faces. I would have laughed had I not been under such a time crunch. Several eye rolls and tense discussions later, we were ready to go. Amanda, my 16-year-old daughter in the purple sweater and Allison, my 18 year-old in dark jeans and her good coat. (I have found that “good” coats cover up a multitude of sins.) I was tense, Michael, my husband, was tense, and the girls were not happy.

As we sat silently in the car ride over to the church, I came up with an idea for a holiday gift that will help avoid this kind of train wreck in the future. This idea will only cost you a bit of time, talent and serious compassion and empathy for your fellow family members.

Family coupons. Giving you what you want when you want it. So I asked the girls to give me their list and I gave them mine:

From my daughters I have asked for the following chits:

Ten “I’ll wear what you want without arguing” coupons.

Ten “I’ll listen to your opinion before I disagree with you.”

Ten “I’ll say, ‘Sure mom,’ when you ask me to do something.

My daughters have asked for the following coupons from us:

Ten “No reminders about anything” days. (I asked to receive this request the night before to prepare myself.)

Ten “I am leaving my room the way I like it to look” days.

Ten “Have too much homework to clean the kitchen” days.

This was an interesting exercise for us — as we were all able to see what was really important to each other when it comes to living everyday life as a family.

Cost of these gifts? Minimal. Overall benefit to the family? Priceless!

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Written by Susan Beacham
Susan Beacham founded Money Savvy Generation in 1999 after almost two decades in private banking and investment management complemented by considerable time teaching at the elementary level.

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