Most people know that my kiddo is at the University Of Alabama and I am proud to say that she is now thriving in her environment. Last year was rough for her and I truly believe Emily was thrust into a breakdown due to her grief and change in life patterns. Now she is doing so well and just made the Dean's list, which is not an easy thing to do. She also is maintaining a part-time job where she moves files online for my office. It's a pretty easy job but it allows her the opportunity to earn extra funds for her extracurricular activities. Not everyone approves of her working and that's okay, to each their own but I was raised to help contribute to my expenses and I wanted Emily to learn the same. So that made me start thinking about my childhood. Minus all the traumatic experiences it was full of valuable lessons. I sometimes stop and wonder if children are entitled these days or if times have changed so much that we have cash more readily available to give to them.
As a child, we didn't have much money and my parents worked very hard for what we did have. I still believe we all work hard now but the income level has increased for many and therefore there is more to give. However, do we give too much? I remember never really knowing we were struggling as a child and having only fond memories. We lived in a small house in Fort Worth and I had plenty to eat and a cozy bed. I remember my mom couldn't afford a Halloween costume one year so she took one of my dad's oversized T-shirts and colored a big pumpkin on the front, she was quite artsy. This combined with a dollar store pumpkin hat made the perfect trick-or-treating attire. Our fun outdoors generally consisted of an old black intertube in a lake somewhere in our area. I am pretty sure that old floating device would be a costly vintage item now. I remember my mom telling me not to turn on the Christmas bubble lights because they used too much electricity. If you don't know what those are you are missing out.
My mom made great adventures out of very little money and I appreciated them very much. I am afraid my mom passed when I was 7, ironic since my son was 7 when he passed. Anyway, when my dad remarried we had two more children to add to the house and it was once again crafty on entertainment. Everyone helped out in the household with chores, there were no questions it was expected. Also as soon as my step brothers turned 15 they got a job. Everyone contributed and everyone helped and that's just how it was. Complaining wasn't allowed and rightfully so.
I lived with my grandparents from 14 on and it was the same in their household. They were absolutely wonderful to me but you were expected to 1. help your family and 2. get a job. So it's very odd to me when I hear people tell me Emily shouldn't have a part-time job. Again everyone is entitled to their own opinion but I wanted her to learn what it's like to work for what you need and want. All of my friends had jobs in high school, it just was the norm. I remember when making weekend plans we just immediately asked, "what time do you get off work?"
Let's face the facts. At 18 your parent owes you nothing financially according to the government and that's the harsh truth. To get technical the legal age in my state is 17. At that point you are living in THEIR house while they are paying YOUR bills. Of course, we all want to care for our children to the best of our ability and give them more than we had. However, sometimes I wonder if kids appreciate it all. I promise my grandparents made it perfectly clear, I will always be here for you, and I will always love you, but I don't OWE you. In fact, you're staying in my home while I feed, clothe, and school you so the least you can do is get a part-time job to help with your wants versus your needs. AMEN! There was never a lack of love in any of the places I lived but there were strict rules.
I wanted Emily to know you are always on time at work, you cannot just quit, and you better never ever get fired! If you do there are consequences for your actions and they aren't pleasant. Like you better get some Ramen girlfriend. Because this is real life...........if you don't work you don't eat. If you don't work you don't have a place to live, you don't go on nice vacations, and you don't get those expensive shoes that are sitting on your feet. It may not even be an outside job but if you're not working outside (because of school) then you're most definitely working inside the house by helping cook, clean, and do household chores........every single day!
Maybe I am just old school but it's just how I feel. We all parent different but I wanted to make sure the way I raised Emily was to instill a good work ethic in her. My cousin is the expert at raising her kids with a good work ethic. From a very young age, each child has their daily chore list and there is no question it has to be completed. By the time they're of work age they maintain their own job and take care of things like their cell phones, etc. I didn't put any bills on Em but that doesn't mean I cannot admire my cousin's plan. Her youngest daughter has maintained the same job for years while going to school and now at 20 fully pays all her own living expenses. That's something to be admired.
What if all our kids understood that at a specific age we owe them NOTHING financially. I owe you love, I owe you respect, and I owe you my time/attention. I don't owe you your bills, your entertainment, presents, or your daily expenses. I do those things because I want to see you succeed, I do those things because I want to help, and I do those things to help you travel an easier path. Again I just wonder if kids truly comprehended that nothing was "owed" to them how much more appreciative versus demanding they would be.