The Luv Doc: His Allowance

Petulance is a choice, it’s not a natural state of being

Dear Luv Doc,

I have been giving allowance to my son since he was 10. He is now 14. It's not a lot, but it's enough for him to buy video games and other small items he wants. Sometimes, he saves his money to buy something more expensive. Now that he's a teenager, however, he treats me differently: talks in a condescending tone, is dismissive, rude, etc. Quite frankly, I'm tired of his behavior. I know this comes with being a teenager, but I don't accept that I should be treated this way. I would like to stop giving him an allowance, or at least withhold it until I see an improvement in his behavior. I explained to him the other day that giving him an allowance is a gift, not a necessity. And I wouldn't give a monthly gift to someone who doesn't treat me well. Am I right or wrong about this? Should I cancel his allowance?

– Concerned Mom

Yes, cancel his allowance. Being an asshole doesn't come with being a teenager. Being an asshole comes with thinking there are no consequences to being an asshole. If you tolerate that behavior in any way, you are not being a kind, loving, tolerant parent, you are being an enabler. Huge difference. Would you allow one of your friends, co-workers, or, dare I say, a presidential candidate to treat you that way? I am hoping the answer is no. Tell me the answer is no. If not, a disrespectful 14-year-old is the least of your problems.

Now, I know you're probably thinking, "But Luv Doc, you don't understand! He used to be such a sweet kid but then he became a teenager. It's the hormones or something." Yeah, probs. Hormones can really spoil your sweet kid's attitude. So can teenage acne, gangly limbs, pubic hair, "nighttime emissions," and a suddenly lower vocal register. However, if we allow our teenage children to become whiny, petulant, insolent little assholes every time they face a bit of adversity, what will they become when they actually reach adulthood? I know you're probably thinking, "President?" and you're not wrong – especially if you have a few hundred million tucked away for them in a trust fund – but if your teenager is like most American teenagers, his most bankable asset will be his personality, and you don't want to shit the bed on that deal by turning out a Ted Cruz, Alex Jones, or a Marjorie Taylor Greene.

Plus … and this is an important point: There are plenty of decent, respectful, nice teenagers. Maybe you just haven't met them. They come with all the same features as the petulant ones, just minus the petulance. I know this is going to sound overly simplistic, but, in general, petulance is a choice, it's not a natural state of being. It's immensely important that your son realizes this as soon as possible. How truly tragic to allow him to grow into an adult who believes that he should be treated with decency and respect when he is not willing to be decent and respectful toward others. We are all snowflakes. We are all special. Also, we are all snowflakes. We are not special.

Treating others in a rude, dismissive, and condescending manner might be useful if you're the doorperson at a pretentious, bottle-service, dress-code nightclub that's going to close in six months because the owner snorted up the remainder of his trust fund, but in the real world it just makes you the person everyone hates. You don't want that for the fruit of your loins, so starting now, enact a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to shitty, disrespectful behavior. Whether you choose swift, ruthless punitive measures or some sort of active listening, "let's talk this through and then hug it out" scenario, just make sure to be consistent and resolute – not only with your son but with anyone who treats you similarly. He needs to know you're willing to go to the mat every time. And look, even if it doesn't work, at least you're going to save a lot of allowance money, right? Buy yourself something nice, on the Luv Doc!

Need some advice from the Luv Doc? Send your questions to the Luv Doc, check out the Luv Doc Archive, and subscribe to the Luv Doc Newsletter.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Luv Doc
The Luv Doc: A Sick Person
The Luv Doc: A Sick Person
One of our freedoms is the freedom to be obstinately modest

The Luv Doc, Sept. 22, 2023

The Luv Doc: A Five-Second Tree of Life Latte
The Luv Doc: A Five-Second Tree of Life Latte
Not today, Jesus. Not today.

The Luv Doc, Aug. 25, 2023

More The Luv Doc
The Luv Doc: An Excellent Wingman
The Luv Doc: An Excellent Wingman
An anachronistic ornithological metaphor about gender equality

The Luv Doc, Sept. 8, 2023

The Luv Doc: Paris in the Fall
The Luv Doc: Paris in the Fall
We’re pretty much all getting tooled by some algorithm or another

The Luv Doc, Sept. 1, 2023


Luv Doc, teenagers, parenting

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle