Having just read a friend’s post about parental control, I felt compelled to share my own experience about this. There’s so much to say, but I’ll try to give the condensed version.
I want to firstly say that I’ve been lucky enough to have been born with a mind of my own, and a will to take care of myself. At no point in my life was I ever looking for a prince charming to swoop in and do everything for me. From about the age of six I knew I didn’t want to be married, and I knew I didn’t want kids. And from the age of about 12 I knew I wanted to see the world and not be held back from any other goal I had my mind set on. I came close to letting everything that was so important to me fall to the wayside, but I didn’t. I held on, barely, and I made it to the other side tougher than nails.
So I don’t feel much sympathy for people who never had to sacrifice to get to where they are. When I see people who have had everything handed to them, who turn around and complain about how hard their life is, I feel a pang of annoyance. I know enough people who have been blessed to have parents who have done well in their lives and can provide more to their kids and family than was afforded to me, and that’s wonderful for them. But some of them just lack appreciation for it. They don’t think before they complain, or realize that some of us listening to their lamenting had to struggle big time just to feed ourselves when they were gifted top of the line electronics that could have paid my rent six times.
But that’s not their fault – that’s their parents’ fault, for never forcing them to learn how to survive. Fortunately (and I really do believe it was better), my parents usually didn’t have two nickels to rub together. Everything they made went towards debts and bills, and supporting me. I can remember many times when I’d ask for very elaborate gifts from them that they would never be able to provide, and being wholly disappointed when I was told no. It felt like such devastation to be a kid, whose entire world revolved around material items, and not be able to have the same toys or comforts as my piers. How come Julie could have a horse, but I couldn’t? How come Amanda could have a Nintendo 64, and I couldn’t? How come Ashley had a huge K’Nex collection, and I didn’t have any at all? How come Dad keeps trying to buy my gym shoes at By-Way? As a child, it’s impossible to compare circumstances, because you just have no concept of value or money. Parents really can’t explain it to kids in a way that makes sense, because all the kids see is “they have, I dont”.
I think my parents secretly felt guilty for not being able to give me all the things I wanted. That’s a curse of parenting that most parents would admit to, but not necessarily to their kids at the time. I’ve seen my partner nearly in tears for not being able to give his kids everything he wants to give them. But he forgets that his kids have so much more than I had growing up. Nobody in my family set up a trust fund for me. I had to apply for OSAP just to go to community college, and I’m still paying that off; I’ll be paying that off for the next four years, at least. They rarely get told “NO”, but no was a second language for me. I never had the security blanket of knowing I’d be taken care of if I really found myself in trouble. I never got some new electronic every year as a big gift for Christmas. I wanted a laptop for the longest time and I didn’t get one until I graduated college, and I’m currently using that same laptop, even though it’s 7 years old now. My partner’s oldest son just got a brand new $800 razor thin laptop for Christmas, just because he wanted one… and partly because he was careless with the last one. My parents never would have bought me another one if I didn’t take care of the first one.
These kids are going to be dependent for the bulk of their adult lives. They’re never going to face student debt, a mortgage, or any of the other serious and alcohol-subdued financial depression that most of us will be confronted with at some point. Money is simply a phone-call or two away.
But I don’t agree with that. Not at all. If growing up to be an adult is simply a transfer of money from one generation to the next, then where in the world do you learn about responsibility? Where do you learn to take pride in what you’ve worked for? I know what you DO learn a lot about: greed. Those of us who came from the working class will know how to survive in a time of crisis better than those who have been pampered. Coming up through the ranks in life is where you learn gratuity, appreciation, respect, manners, ethics… and on and on and on. Might explain a lot of the personality defects I see in those who bypassed real life right into entitlement.