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A Lesson in Growing Up: Empowerment, Economics and Karate Lessons

My daughter, Emily, 13, greatly enjoys karate classes. I'm told that martial arts training provides a sense of empowerment. However, lessons, uniforms, and equipment quickly add up to real dollars.

Recently, I was present at the end of a class to do what Dads do best: pay the bill. The instructor looked at Emily and said: "As part of your training, you should pay for your own lessons from money you earn." This led to a great discussion on the way home.

"I can't afford it!" said my daughter.

"Why not?" I asked.

"I don't have enough money," she said.

"Can you earn it?" I asked.

"Well, I often don't get my allowance because I don't do my chores and I can only do so much babysitting."

"If you can do karate three times a week, you should be able to complete your chores," I suggested. "And let's assume one night a week babysitting."

She calculated in her head. "That's still not enough and I need spending money."

"Fair enough," I agreed.

"Well, how much will you give me toward karate?" she asked.

"You tell me how much you need and ask if I'll help you." She look confused. "List all the money you expect to make. Then list your expenses, including karate. That's called a budget. Then we'll see if there's a short fall and what can be done about it." "What do you mean?"she asked.

"Well, if you need more money, you can earn more, spend less or perhaps your parents will help out or some combination of the three."

We got home and she went to work. She checked with her mother to make sure she understood what was required to assure her allowance. Then she suggested some extra chores that might generate extra income. She reviewed her expenses. Finally, she made her proposal: $20 per month toward karate costs. I reviewed her numbers and agreed but suggested that she continue to think of ways to be helpful and increase her income.

"Do you need any shoes shined?" she asked. It just so happened that I did.

Instead of begging and cajoling her parents, Emily was now much more in control. Instead of entitlement, Emily now sought assistance in using her own resources to reach her goals.

Karate really can lead to empowerment.




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