Trial Balloon

Ask Dr. Heartlander

Posted at 6:00 AM on April 30, 2010 by Dale Connelly (35 Comments)
Filed under: Ask Dr. Heartlander

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Dear Dr. Heartlander,

Last year our daughter turned 16 and begged for a credit card linked to our checking and savings accounts. All her friends had that kind of access, she said. And besides, it would help her learn the value of money.

Reluctantly we gave in, and Ashley proceeded to wager our family savings in an internet betting pool focused on the outcome of "American Idol". I suppose it could have turned out OK except that nasty Simon Cowell said some stupid thing to turn the whole nation against our pick and we lost everything. Under the best of circumstances, an impulsive kid wouldn't get the kind of freedom that allows this to happen, but she assured us she knew what she was doing and we believed her.

Silly us.

Anyway, we've taken out some major loans to stay afloat and we're re-grouping, trying to put our lives back together. One of the tasks is to come up with a set of spending rules for Ashley so she doesn't do this again. I think I have a written a reasonable set of strict guidelines full of common sense limits backed up with a series of checks and balances, but her mother says my rules are too harsh and they'll drain Ashley of her free enterprise initiative, sending the message that big daddy is going to take control of all the variables, risk is bad and playing a hunch should be avoided at all costs.

That's exactly the message I mean to send. No gambling!

Ashley's mother points out that she rolled the dice when she married me and the jury is still out as to whether or not that huge, irrational gamble paid off. Under rules similar to the ones I'm proposing, she says, I would never have had a chance.

I'm confused. I thought this was about money.
Should I re-consider?


Too Big To Fail

Here's what I told TBTF: "Good rules are an important part of any game, and Ashley does seem to view this as a game above all else. If her "free enterprise initiative" is easily damaged by a few limitations, it wasn't going to take her very far anyway. Her mother is probably just trying to scare you, which is also an important part of any system of oversight. Note the risk and move forward with care and determination."

But that's just my opinion.

What do YOU think, Dr. Heartlander?

Comments (35)

Hmmm, sounds like it is time for separate bank accounts for you and the mom. That way, you can protect your assets and mom can give Ashley all the capital she wants to venture.

You do run the risk of not being able to share in the profits when Ashley strikes it rich, but you sound like the kind of person who might be ok with that.

(keeping my jaw firmly clamped shut to avoid the issue of what "all the other kids have"-not one I have to deal with, thank goodness)

Posted by catherine | April 30, 2010 6:12 AM

rules might help but i think if Ashley has no conscience or responsibility then she'll find a way around your rules. free enterprise always costs someone. i say move the costs closer to the one who is causing the trouble.

ooops. did that sound crabby? :-)
happy (maybe rainy) day all!

Posted by barb in Blackhoof | April 30, 2010 6:14 AM

Dale, Can you play "Get a Job" for Ashley?? Gamblers should use their own money. I learned that from Enron, Goldman Sachs.....

Posted by Beth-Ann | April 30, 2010 6:17 AM

OUCH! This one strikes way too close to the bone today as my teenager and I are at odds this morning over how much money she needs to "hang out" with her friends over the coming weekend. Fortunately, I do not fall victim to the "all my friends have access to the family accounts". I can still hear my mother's voice very clearly in my head... "if all your friends jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge, would you?"

Posted by sherrilee | April 30, 2010 6:48 AM

Dale, you have created such a monster in Ashley that I am speechless. Should TBTF "reconsider?" Yes, yes, yes! It is probably too late to reconsider giving birth to Ashley, which would have been my first choice.

Catherine has suggested a good start, but this isn't time for half-measures.

TBTF should isolate all of his assets and use the internet to learn to create a new identity. Then tell the family he will be out of touch for seven months while he "Hikes the Appalachian Trail" and makes his escape. With luck, by the time anyone senses he is gone he can have a new home and job on some island whose laws prevent extradition to the US.

Posted by Steve in Saint Paul | April 30, 2010 6:49 AM

Dale--I gather this is a fable of increased regulation of the financial industrty, a la the Senate trying to debate increased limits on the financial industry. It's too early in the morning for em for allegory.

Posted by clyde | April 30, 2010 6:58 AM

barb up there--did you get any rain last night--cannot quite tell by radar on internet.

Posted by clyde in kato | April 30, 2010 6:59 AM

I think this entire family belongs on the show, Biggest Loser!

Posted by Donna | April 30, 2010 7:12 AM

i am with steve. leave.
if you are the family are under discussion as the rationality of the crap shoot. let them see the big picture of the continued see no evil on their own and call in the results. if the idea of fighting for the abilty to be the voice of reason and to be lampooned for stating opposition to giving in to the me me me show and the enabler is your idea of a good life then god bless.

Posted by tim | April 30, 2010 7:17 AM

its never to early for a little allagory cmon your're a morning guy.

Posted by tim | April 30, 2010 7:23 AM

Driving to work is weird; feels all wrong.
tim--cannot find the thesis. Could be I threw it (I periodically tell myself not to leave all this junk for my kids to throw out and then toss some things) or that I am a stupid old man who does not remember and who does weird things.
Dale's allegory reminds me how I am up to my neck in sleeze and oil lately. 1) facebook linking everyone's private information out into the world but promising they will not do what they have been doing all along. 2) got a thing from Republican party pretending for all it is worth to be a communication from the US Census Bureau. Snake oil is the way of politics I know but one would dream such people would be above board, but since everyone in both parties is pretty well bought and paid for . . . 3) then I went car buying. Ethics, honesty, and cleaniliess of the soul is no more prominent there now than ever. Ask a Toyota salesperson about the recent issues and hear the answer they have prepared. Not to mention the ease with which you can get a car loan. Why would anyone of sound mind loan me money. So afterwards had to go home put my finger down my throat and take a bath and a shower and shave off my beard.

Posted by cly de gag | April 30, 2010 7:37 AM

Just being up early does not a Morning Person make, in my brain-not-yet-working opinion.

I'm with Ashley, if a parent gives you rope enough, hang yourself, Wait, wait that's not it. If a parent gives you money go spend it whatever way you want!

Posted by Kim in Saint Paul | April 30, 2010 7:41 AM

Happy Friday, all!

Posted by elinor | April 30, 2010 7:50 AM

Dale--speaking of allegories in the morning: most mornings I bike by a thing perhaps best called a sculpture. I keep trying to decide if it is an allegory or not. So I could send you a photo of it and this group can interpet it. It is like a scattering of huge books in the dirt, made out of the sandstone used at Target Field, which is from this area. It is the placement of the books which is perhaps allegorical.

Posted by cly de Universite do Etat de Minnesota | April 30, 2010 7:52 AM

Oh boy! major show down last night with 15 year old daughter over her comments on her Facebook account that led to the decommisioning of the account-I think that TBTF should send Ashley on the Appalachian trail-nice idea, Steve, and just enjoy the peace and quiet at home for a few months with her gone. My daughter is speaking to me this morning, even though I am the gorgon mother of decade. If only her older brother wasn't so nosy and didn't tattle on her, her life would be so much easier!

Posted by Renee | April 30, 2010 7:54 AM

Steve, it sounds like the guy has not got any assets left to lock down.

I'm not going to put myself through the place that leads me, allegorically.

As far as the integrity piece goes, Clyde, I was shocked and appalled to hear my very conservative parents shrug off certain behaviors because, "don't you think lots of people do it?"

Too gobsmacked to even reply to that one.

Posted by catherine | April 30, 2010 7:55 AM

Catherine--Congress has their "Ends Justifies the Means Committees" and so do we all.

Posted by cly de allegorice | April 30, 2010 8:14 AM

one of those days huh...?
the prius is the best thing out there and the lease they are offering (toyota in particular) is very appealing. i am not a lease guy because i drive triple the miles they allow but mere mortals should look into it. toyota is a great company that was afraid that the world would be as unforgiving as it has been if they came clean. who buys tylenol vs the generac because of that integrity move in the 80's.

politics. i got to hear helen thomas speak last night at my daughters college in eau claire and she was great but outraged at the lack of outrage out there. the republicans drive the economy and the world view of the us into the swamp and then refuse to allow the dems to fix it. they should be horse whipped. helen is 89 so her words are a pox rather than a rallying cry. they should serve as a rallying claa. 10 presidents and she says now is the worst state of politics she has ever seen. w screwed it up and obama is afraid to stomp his feet and declare the outrage he must be feeling. stand up man is her advice.
i am involved in a group called progressives on the prairie who is who are trying to get the snake oil addressed. we would welcome input at whatever level.
so clyde you don't want to give me your facebook address today then...?
the upside to the facebook intrusion is that if you do thake the time to look up the friends of your friends you find a bunch of people you would never have found otherwise and thise recent finds have made the intrusion show a small silver lining.
good weekend all.
have a good weekend

Posted by tim | April 30, 2010 8:27 AM

Yes, send the photo by all means.
We'll get to the bottom of this with some sculptural interpretation next week!

Posted by Dale Connelly | April 30, 2010 8:31 AM

renee, got one with my 11 year old due tonight. watch out what you wish for. she is getting big an independent but then again there is that kid brain.

clyde send the art. love to see it. thanks again for the russian museum reminder. it has the brushstrokes in my brain all going wild with the mixing paint on the canvas technique. looking forward to getting them on in reality in the month of may

Posted by tim | April 30, 2010 8:31 AM

sorry you couldn't find the thesis. thanks for looking. if it ever pops up keep me in mind. otherwise we can remember it in absentia. sometimes its better that way.

Posted by tim | April 30, 2010 8:34 AM

ben yeah the irish quote was a good one that sticks with you. glad to hear you are not the sonnet wooing kind of guy.

Posted by tim | April 30, 2010 8:43 AM

Renee -- you are not alone! I shut down my 15 year old's Facebook last month as a long-overdue consequence of computer usage violations! Glad I'm not the only "mean parent"

Posted by sherrilee | April 30, 2010 8:53 AM

dale and tim--I have yet to take the picture. I am like a dog, only think of what is in front of me but will do so this weekend and get it to you. Actually, I am like a dog in other ways . . .
tim--I cannot lease either--too many volunteer miles. I bought the Toyota coffin, the Scion box, which, by the way, they do not know how to pronounce. Prius was pushing our budget too far. We went around and had my wife try getting in and out of cars and how easily it holds a wheel chair. I have been looking at the Scion for years; I like odd cars. She fell in love with it; it was by far the easiest car for her to get in and out if. Also, look me up on facebook as Clyde Birkholz, or anyone else who wants to or find me on cynthia's site if you have hers. I do not know of another Clyde Birkholz in all of the world. Now there is/was a Clydela Birkholz (ISH!!) in Renee's town of all places. The facebook issue is that they are turning everyone's personal info into links, not just a list of items on your profile. The potential for misuse of that is huge. If you turn them down, then all of your personal info is stripped from your profile.
Renee--go get em tiger!! When I read you in full roar, you sound like my sister. I am so glad I am not raising children in this age. My 7 year old grand daughter is incapable of lying and will tell even when not asked, which, if it lasts, will be trouble for little brother.

Posted by cly de todo el mundo | April 30, 2010 8:55 AM

Thank you for your support. I think what really burned my daughter last night was that I had not a single ounce of ire-if I don't get angry, she can't feel downtrodden. I also believe she likes the structure and finds comfort in the consequences, but of course, I'll never hear her say so.

Posted by Renee | April 30, 2010 9:10 AM

I am home with a sick kid, so I am being "Nurturing Mom" today...Mean Mom will have to wait for another day (she has been known to show up here, too). Thought it sounds like TBTF needs to be Mean Dad and be done with it.

Also (off topic quite a bit), not sure if folks are still meeting on Sunday at May Day, I will not be able to join you on this outing. Weekend got all higgledy-piggledy. Will try to catch folks at whatever the next TB field trip is!

Posted by Anna | April 30, 2010 9:12 AM

TBTF does not seem to realize that a parent's job is to function as a sort of lithium ion battery, plugging him/herself into a paying job each day to charge up with money, then hurrying home to let the offspring drain it off to pay for entertainment and useless consumer goods. It works this way till the battery wears out and will not hold a charge anymore, and is consigned to the junk drawer because it cannot be responsibly disposed of in the trash.

Say, Dr. Heartlander, this is off topic too, but maybe you have some advice for me....I bought one of those little Insignia HD portable radios a couple of months ago, and it's being recalcitrant today. It's locked on 87.5 and I can't change the frequency. It tells me it's seeking up and seeking down, but whatever I do it shall not find. I also can't turn the power off, so it's just sitting here slowly draining away its charge. Did anyone else buy one of these? Any difficulties with it?

Posted by Linda in Saint Paul (West Side) | April 30, 2010 9:21 AM

clyde , i see what you mean
it shows me you ten sigma info and the shullsburg info but will not allow me to see you as a facebook member. look me up as tim jones (i am the sideways one as there are lots of us tim jones' in the world)
looking forward to the art next week. enjoy the weekend. my schedule will be off i am going to be on pacific time for a couple days.

Posted by tim | April 30, 2010 9:24 AM

thanks for the interview with peter. he is one of my favorites and an inspiration when it comes to trusting your ability to write tunes after he did such a remarkable job on the tune a day deal he was on with garrison a fistfull of years ago.
i saw him and this pretty young woman at macphail earlier this week and it occurred to me we are all getting older. it was his daughter who i remember as being tiny ( 6 or 7) then it occurs to me my children were also small at the time and are in college now. your son gus falls into that catagory too. i think of him as a little guy and then remember that was years a go and he is a young man now. they have been good years that have gone by so quickly. thanks to you and peter for your contributions for making life better on the planet.
good weekend

Posted by tim | April 30, 2010 9:29 AM

My!! we are allegorical this morning!!
Nice, Linda, but a little upsetting to one teetering on the edge of the junk drawer. That's why we bought a car that looks like a coffin.However, Linda, when they get to be adults, they get more manipulative about using you and do say thank you.
And, Dale, I did like your allegory too; notice how none of us really wanted to pursue its implications. That interview, Dale was wonderful.

Posted by cly de lithium de junk | April 30, 2010 9:32 AM

tim--what? I guessd because I got angry and set my security to very high. I have no idea what the shullsburg information is. Would you try again? It was the security setting blocking you. Still wonder waht the shullsburg stuff is. Going to get the mail. Back in 30 minutes.

Posted by clyde | April 30, 2010 9:41 AM

Clyde I'm not sure what you are asking, but if you are confused by a reference to Shullsburg, it is a WI dairy that is very promotional. They make--guess what?--cheese.

Posted by Steve in Saint Paul | April 30, 2010 10:57 AM

steve--the question is why tim in looking up me up in facbook finds a reference to shullsburg for me there.
tim--too many tim jones to find you. Amazing number have white beards. So this time I think you can befriend me.

Posted by clyde | April 30, 2010 11:03 AM

Good luck to all of you with teens at this moment in time. Uffda. I applaud you, Renee and Sherrilee, for having a limit.

Anna and anyone who's still considering going - I don't know if I can get to the May Day celebrations Sunday either, but if I do I'll be at the Powderhorn Park community building, 35th Ave. South & 15th Avenue, at 1:00 (or as soon as the parade is over). And I was mistaken, there IS a rain date, May 9, in case of a total rainout.

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale | April 30, 2010 1:14 PM

Ooh, I just realized the PARADE starts at 1:00, so I will revise my plan and be at the Community Building mentioned above at 2:00; I really am going to try and get there. I believe the "pageant" begins around 3:30, by which time I will be on the west side of Powderhorn Lake, at or near a playground atop the hill.

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale | April 30, 2010 4:07 PM

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