Expected Generosity: The Art of Saying ‘No’ to Friends

Preparing your children for handling money situations with their peers.

teenage friends buying food

Podcast Transcript

Host: David Specht, Family Dynamics National Development Manager, Wells Fargo Private Bank

Guest: Gary Shunk, Family Dynamics Consultant, Wells Fargo Private Bank


Have your children ever found themselves in the uncomfortable position of being expected to pay for their friends’ activities? This is Dave Specht, Family Dynamics National Development Manager with Wells Fargo Private Bank. In today’s podcast, we are joined by Gary Shunk to discuss expected generosity and the art of saying “no.” Gary, who is a Family Dynamics Consultant with Wells Fargo Private Bank, will provide tips for parents to support and prepare their children to handle such situations without disrupting friendships.

Gary, why do you think children have such a difficult time in saying no when they know that someone might be taking advantage of them?


You know, many of us feel uncomfortable talking about money in similar circumstances, but it’s particularly difficult for children and young adults. Their challenges can come from feelings of guilt about being from a family with financial resources or simply a desire to fit in. Unfortunately, some children struggle to know who their real friends are because they worry about people hanging around them just to take advantage of the “stuff” that they may get.


What tips do you have for parents to prepare children for these types of situations?


I think one of the most important things that parents can do is have an open dialogue with their children about how to develop healthy friendships.

A common phrase that they may hear from their friends is: “Your family has money. You can afford to pay for this, right?” It’s important to talk to them about how to manage such conversations and the pressures they may face and to be able to talk to them openly about what a healthy friendships look like for them.


Open dialogue is always a good suggestion. We all know how difficult it can be to talk to teens in particular. What suggestions do you have on opening the line of communication with your children, particularly if you don’t want them to push back or become defensive?


I’ve found that one good way is to use situational conversations where you talk about when it may not be appropriate to pick up the tab for your friends. It is crucial to practice situational conversations with children and give them the language and a strategy to help them manage these uncomfortable moments, Dave.


Gary, can such a dialogue also be an opportunity to discuss living within a budget with your children?


Absolutely, Dave, if your child has a budget and understands there isn’t a blank check for all of their needs, they will most likely be more direct with their friends about how they approach these situations. For example, parents may coach their children to handle situations like these by saying, “Yeah, my parents have money, but that’s not mine. I have to use my own money.”


And how about teaching children to set expectations in advance with their friends?


Yes, parents may want to encourage their children to think ahead. For example, before going to eat out with friends, encourage them to talk openly about how much they are planning to spend on dinner. When these expectations are laid out in advance, some of these challenging interactions can be avoided.


So whom do I call if I’m interested in talking more about family dynamics?


Contact your Wells Fargo Private Bank relationship manager who will introduce you to a family dynamics specialist.


Well, Gary, that’s some great food for thought, and I want to thank you for joining us. And thank you to our listeners for joining this podcast.

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