If you’re like most parents, you’d rather not do either. The less contentious the interactions we have with our teenagers, the better our mental health will be.

But using an analogy from the 1999 science fiction film The Matrix, imagine for a moment that you had a choice of giving them either a red pill or a blue one.

Choose the red pill and everything changes.

The red pill — in this case enrolling them for a financial education course — would mean that their life gets a bit harder, requires a time commitment and would cost you money — at least in the short term.

It also has the added disadvantage of your teen being initially resistant to this idea.

There is a massive upside to this option though — it will open your teens’ mind to the way the world really works around money. They would understand how to use this knowledge and modify their mindset and behavior to make smarter money decisions.

Just like in the movie, this knowledge also gives them the ability to dodge the metaphorical bullet thorough financial self-defense, where they learn how to defend themselves against bad debt, financial scams and other fiscal pitfalls.

By learning how to use the magic of compound interest, they will get a head start on building wealth.

This directly results in them becoming more self-reliant and financially secure earlier in their lives.

Like with anything worthwhile, this involves an initial commitment of time and money but it’s plain to see that the returns are stratospheric.

Choosing the blue pill is the easy option. Nothing changes.

Just as in The Matrix, this pill prevents them from discovering the truth; in this case of how most people are enslaved by money.

Your teen can go back to living in comfort and blissful ignorance. It doesn’t cost you anything — at least in the short term.

It has the added advantage of your teen being happier with you choosing this option, mainly because she cannot comprehend the opportunity cost at this point.

The downside to this choice however, is monumental. Your teen will be condemned to commit expensive money mistakes, which aside from being financially ruinous, will also carry a heavy cost in time and self-confidence.

And this isn’t easy to recover from.

This is no science fiction. Data backed studies show that teens who do not take a financial education course are more likely to be compulsive buyers, less likely to save, and more likely to max out their credit cards.

Without financial self-defense, teens then unwittingly take on bad debt, fall victims to financial fraud and perhaps worst of all, are late off the mark in investing wisely and building wealth.

Being financially fragile then becomes unavoidable.

As Morpheus says in the movie, “All I’m offering is the truth. Nothing more.”

The choice is yours.