“I’d like to get a manicure.”

This is a sentence I hear often as a dad of teenage daughters.

Nails are a thing. I didn’t know that when I was growing up, because until I was 15 there were only brothers in my house. We didn’t talk about nails. We didn’t think about nails. I barely knew I had them at the end of my fingers.

Now, I know they matter.

I know there are a million different styles, colors, gels, and dips.

Now, I know more about nails than I thought I ever would. But I also know something about helping my kids make decisions. If my daughters say, “I’d like to get my nails done,” and I instantly take them, paying for the whole experience, they have made a casual decision. It was a passing whim we have acted on and the joy will be every bit as fleeting.

On the other hand, pun mildly intended, if I say, “Sure, I’ll take you to get your nails done, but you have to pay for it,” everything changes. Suddenly, they scrunch up their faces. They must make a real decision. Is that something they really want? Do they want it enough to spend their own money? Does getting your nails done really matter that much?

Sometimes, it does and they spend their own money on it. When they do, the impact is greater. The experience is more significant. The moment lasts longer because they had some skin in the game.

Sometimes, the cost is too much and they pass on the nails or the candy or the headphones or anything else they thought they wanted until they knew they had to pay.

It’s fun to surprise your kids with gifts and luxury experiences like a 13-year-old getting a manicure. But it’s equally important to give them the gift of working for a dollar, saving that dollar and only spending it on things they really care about.

Raising an adult involves both moments.

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