Wednesday, November 27, 2013

So, Technically, My Daughter is a Felon.

Those of you who are friends with me on Facebook already know the story, at least the beginning. For those of you who haven't heard, here's what went down yesterday.  

While I was sleeping (I'd worked the night before) my 13-year-old daughter took my credit card and bought two 4th row tickets for One Direction to the tune of $600.00 a piece.  That's right. $1200.00 for two concert tickets.  Did she ask permission?  No. No she did not. 

This concert takes place in Phoenix, Arizona which is a mere 1111 miles from here. After she bought the tickets she started to cry. Not from remorse.  Rather from pure joy.  One Direction! Harry! Niall! The marketing machine that is One Direction has my daughter hook, line and sinker.  

Now, obviously, I was not nearly so pleased as she; especially when I found out I was the financier for this little operation. My husband and I considered many options from canceling the transaction to selling the tickets.  But where is the fun in that? Where is the lesson in that?  And so we came up with a different solution. 

Following is the contract we presented to our daughter this morning: 

I, the undersigned, acknowledge that I willfully committed fraud.  I used my mother’s credit card, without permission, and racked up $1200.00 worth of charges.  I understand that my parents are being lenient by not filing a police report. I also understand that stealing a sum greater than $1000.00 is a felony in the State of Oregon. Furthermore I understand that if convicted of a felony I could face up to a year in prison.  

My parents have been clear with me; $600.00 a ticket for 4th row One Direction seats is an unfortunate and irresponsible use of money.  There are many ways this money could be put to better use.  However it has also been acknowledged that I am my own person and as such I am allowed to spend my money as I choose.  The money used to buy these tickets, however, was not my money.  

By signing this document I irrefutably admit I have the coolest most wonderful parents on the planet.  They are the best because they are allowing me the chance to earn this money for myself.  The money put on the credit card will be considered a loan.  As a loan this money will be subject to interest.  Given that I am 13-years-old and with a questionable credit rating the interest rate will be 28% per annum.  Any given month that I do not cover the minimum payment a late fee of $30.00 will be charged to my account.  In addition I will be charged interest on the interest should the minimum payment not be met.  

I acknowledge that buying concert tickets to a stadium several states away is only the beginning of expenses I would expect to incur should the concert be attended.  If I am to attend said concert I will have to buy concert tickets for my mother and my sister.  In addition I will have to buy plane tickets for all four of us (my mother, my sister, my friend and myself). I will be responsible for all transportation costs (gas, rental car, vehicle insurance, etc). In addition I will be responsible for lodging, food and incidentals (concert tee shirts, etc).  

Once I calculate these expenses I will put them in a spreadsheet and present them to my parents.  Then a mutually acceptable timeline will be agreed upon and monthly financial goals will have to be met.  

I am allowed to be creative in earning the money for this trip.  I can set up a Go Fund Me or similar account.  It has been suggested that it will take all my creative spirit to convince people I unequivocally NEED to attend this concert.  I may not beg my parents for money.  I may not beg my relatives for money. I understand that the chores completed at home are my responsibility as a member of this family and as such do not come with monetary compensation.  If I am to sell items such as crafts or baked goods I am responsible for the seed money needed to create said items.  No additional loans will be granted. 

I also understand that my schooling can not suffer.  I must, from this point forward, get no grade less than a B.  If my grades are lacking I understand the tickets will be immediately disposed of.  I will, however, still be responsible for the monies borrowed.  

Finally, if I am unable to earn the money required for this trip the tickets will be donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation so that a truly deserving child will be able to see this band. As previously stated - I will still be required to pay back the loan.


Truth-be-told I will be shocked if my daughter is able to comply with the terms of this contract.  If she earns the money and maintains her GPA then good for her. I'll see you in Phoenix next September.  If she is unable to earn the money then I hope she will at least have learned something about life and its concomitant costs. And, perhaps, she'll even have a bit of extra change in her pocket.

Oh the joys of parenting!  


Note: we've already had a spirited discussion about interest on loans.  Indeed it appears lessons are being learned. :o)

Addendum: after this blog post my daughter has decided to start her own blog and write from her perspective.  You can see her post here


JenniS said...

That's awesome! Good for you. Stick to your guns, Momma!

Vanessa Falle said...

Oh hell yes. Natural consequences at their best. This is being handled with grace & authority on your part. Be proud. This is what respectful parenting should look like. Bravo!

Anonymous said...

i would cancel the charges, don't tell her and let her work to pay them off. save the money she earned trying to work it off and make her donate it. That is really the only thing that is going to teach her the value of the work that goes into earning the mighty dollar.

Liz said...

It wouldn't be right for everybody, but I love the way you've handled this. You've turned it into an ongoing learning experience that I'm sure will be valuable for your daughter in the future.

Anonymous said...

I can see the lessons you are trying to teach, but where are you explicitly telling your daughter that you (the mom) feels what she is doing is wrong, irresponsible, and does not respect authority figures/rules? I see this as teaching your daughter she can do whatever she wants, and just needs to figure out how to make up for it after the fact. Please explain - thanks!

Shalet said...

Had you been listening to our family discussions it would be clear to you that we (me, her father and her older brother) all feel her behavior was just that; wrong and irresponsible. This has been verbally expressed to her by every member of her family including her older brother and grandparents.

If we cancelled the charges or sold the tickets or gave them away there would be a lesson. But a short-lived one. We could have gone the traditional route and grounded her, took her phone away, no computer, television or friends. And she could spend her time mulling over her actions.

Given the teenaged mind I doubt she would have been thinking much about how she screwed up. Rather I suspect her time would've been spent thinking about how much her parent's suck and how they don't understand her and how NOBODY LISTENS OR CARES.

Think about all the people who go to jail, which is essentially societal grounding for adults. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics the recidivism rate for robbers in the United States is 70%. This hardly seems an effective source of punishment.

Now with my daughter I see several different scenarios:

1) she fails to earn the money. She will not get to go the concert and all that hard work will be for not.

2) she earns the money and goes to the concert. She may find, once she gets there, that it is all hype. That it wasn't worth all that time and effort. Then again maybe it will be worth it. Given that good for her for putting in all that work.

3) she earns an excess of money (which is her hope) and is able to donate it to a charitable cause. Thus she learns the power of hard work and beauty of giving.

I'm not a parenting expert. I'm just a mom trying to navigate muddy waters. I've not seen traditional approaches be particularly effective and am willing to think out of the box. Time will tell if my approach is any better.

In the meantime I can tell you many lessons have already been learned; the logistics of credit cards and interest rates, the true cost of travel, how to create a budget and how to start a blog (she's started one of her own to document this journey). She is learning, albeit not in a traditional manner.

She is well aware she screwed up. She is also aware we are giving her a chance. If she screws up again then it's a different story.

blah blah blah said...

A natural consequence for theft is facing the court and jail time . The creativity is inspiring but does not fit the crime . Showing her what it means to use credit is a wonderful idea , but the problem is the stealing and the learning experience seems to teach nothing about the consequences of stealing.

Shalet said...

I daresay she has been punished. Her crimes have been blasted all over the internet. All my friends, her friend's friends and her brother's friends know what has happened. Her grandparents, her aunts and uncles and complete strangers know of her crimes.

We live in a small town. Everyone knows. She can't walk downtown without someone asking "what the f**k were you thinking?!!" Believe you me. She has been punished.

She is young. She is a first time offender. Should this behavior persist the punishment will change. And the leniency will disappear.

But for now I'd like to make this a teaching moment. As I said in my previous comment the recidivism rate for robbers is 70%; this means jail is not an effective means of punishment. I can extrapolate this to assume that grounding is equally as ineffective.

I want her energies directed towards something positive (i.e. trying to earn the funds for this trip (including additional monies for charity)). Whether or not she succeeds she will gain something positive from the situation. I wish I could say the same of our penal system.

My job is to mold this child. To teach her. And that's just what I'm trying to do. Did she screw up? You bet she did. Does she deserve a chance to rectify this? Yes she does.

Karen Goodwin said...

From one "mom trying to navigate muddy waters" to another. KUDOS! You don't have to answer to anyone and you are right in that there are SEVERAL lessons being taught here. Your daughter knows what she did was wrong and even if she gets to go to the concert she will still know what she did was wrong. It is unlikely that the behavior will occur again. Will there be other bumps in the road and teachable moments? You bet! You are doing a great job...