Thursday, January 17, 2008

TFT: A Better Than I Had it Life

I've be wondering if giving our kids a better than what I had life is all it is cracked up to be. Up until I was in the 4-5th grade we grew up fairly poor. My mom used the pretty colored money(food stamps) to buy food. I wore quite a bit of hand me downs, which would be ok if any of my relatives were girls. I remember people asking me if I like dressing like a boy. I did have some girl items, and I was pretty much a tomboy, so it didn't really bother me at the time. I remember being scared to tell my parents that I broke my glasses, because they cost so much, that I pretended that I could see without them. Like they bought that. I remember Christmas being a big deal because that is when we looked through the "wish book" and got to pick out what we hoped to get for Christmas. My brother and I never really grew up without, if we needed it, we got it, but we also understood at a fairly young age that we had to earn money. We had a list of chores that had to be done around the house. By high school, if we weren't involved in a sport we were expected to have a job. We were expected to get good grades and we had to be responsible for ourselves. We didn't get rides to or from practices unless we couldn't find one and walking home wasn't an option, ie below zero temperatures. Even in 4th grade I rode my bike over a mile to the little leauge field. We didn't get taken to the pool, #1 because we didn't have one and #2 the lake is free. Birthday parties were held at McD's or we ordered pizza. We didn't have a tv in our rooms, if I wanted to watch 90210, I had to ask or set up the vcr to record it. I don't think there was anything wrong with any of it. I actually feel guilty sometimes when I'm at work, not really working. I feel like I should be doing something. My husband grew up pretty much the same, except he had to work on a farm as a kid.

Now we have this feeling that we have to give our kids a better life than what we had. I will admit it, I don't like to give my daughter hand me downs or clothing items from a yard sale. I have no problem buying all the stuff on clearance, but it just knowing I bought it new for her some how makes me feel good. Maybe the feelings of being teased are surfacing now. My husband sees almost no limit in getting stuff for his son who is 11. He gets a new bat for baseball every year, I never owned a bat until he bought me one. He makes sure he has fairly expensive shoes for all his sports. His son always got a ride for everything up until last year when it was decided it would be ok for him to walk 2 blocks. If he forgets something we run for it. He has a tv and a ps3 in his room so he never has to converse with the rest of the family if he chooses. The girl has one in her room too, but it doesn't work, and she doesn't really play up there anyway. He got a cell phone for Christmas, I didn't have a phone in my room until high school, and it wasn't a separate line. For his birthday we are taking him and 4 of his friends to a condo that has a water park for the night. Last year they went to the Big Ten Basketball Tournament in Chicago. He has been to at least 3 Packer games, and numerous Brewer games, and thinks nothing of asking for anything and everything while we're there. He gets upset when you ask him to do anything and stares are you like he's in shock that you want him to do something, like clean his room. I shoveled a pretty large driveway and parking area when I was growing up, usually more than once in a day if it was snowing that hard. He thinks shoveling an inch of snow of the sidewalk is a major feat. I'm kind of going off about him because the girl is only 16 mos and I want to prevent this from happening to her. I remember taking him to the store when J and I first got together and he was 3-4 and expected to get a treat for being good in the store. I understand that we want them to have more than what we had, but are we giving it at a bigger price than just what the tag says? Why do I get "the look" when I say things need to be earned and if going without, because it was forgotten, starts teaching some responsibility than so be it? Am I really an evil stepmother? Why is this generation called the playstation generation? Why are all these adults still living at home? Is this giving them a better than what we had life?

4 comments:

Amy said...

thanks for stopping by my blog. i grew up quite similarly. we got the things we needed, but i know my parents did without because of that. i also had to start working when i was 14. i struggle with the same sort of thoughts. i want my children to be grateful but to not expect things. it's a tough one. take care.

Denise H. said...

Great Topic! I grew up opposite of what you grew up. Except, my mom had a very undesireable childhood so she wanted to give her children everything that she didn't have and did. Just as you do with your children. Her parents died at a young age. She and her sisters were split apart and sent to live with various family members. She had little money and had to work for her aunt at a young age just to buy her school clothes and so on... She gave us a childhood with endless playtime (because she never had any due to having to work all of the time), anything that we asked for we got and an endless supply of support, love and attention. I LOVED my childhood and could not have asked for a better one. Both of my parents are the Greatest people that you will ever meet. But still, we did have responsibilities in our home... We all had chores, got jobs when we turned 16, bought our own cars when we could afford it, (but were given a car to drive until then), and helped out with buying our school clothes. All of us turned out fine, I think that there is a difference between the spoiled brat kids and the children that are spoiled but also taught responsibility and work ethic. From the sounds of you, I think that your kids will be just fine.

Zoe said...

i too grew up "poor". we never had any extra and if we did it was with money we earned. my kids are spoiled ass rotten. i know it and i'm struggling with it. i don't want them to live like i did but i want them to respect what they have and be grateful for it. it's so hard to walk that fine line.

Michelle Leigh said...

Well, I wasn't without growing up, but my parents didn't give me whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I think it's a good lesson to teach. Sounds like your stepson is mighty spoiled and thinks he gets things regardless, instead of earning it. M kids are required to act accordingly in public, without a reward or treat. It's teaching them to be a functional part of society. do you get a treat for acting like an adult? No. It's great to give them a better life, but the lessons can still be taught. It sounds like your daughter will be taught humility and responsibility, rather than being spoiled and bratty! Great topic.