Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Free is Better - Part one

Or is it??????

When  I was younger (much much younger) if I wanted a big ticket item - like let's say a new bike - my parents encouraged me to save my pennies and put at least half the money towards the bike.  I grumbled and complained because my friends didn't have to save any of their money - their parents bought them their bikes.

When I was working I had to pay rent at home.  By that point in my life I didn't grumble or complain - I had grown accustomed to the fact that things in our house worked differently than in other homes.

When I was all grown up and had my own babies to raise - things were different.  If they wanted something (within our budget) they got it.  They didn't have to pay half or any part towards the item.  I was a good mom!

Then I started to see (realize) that all the stuff my girls got had no value to them.  The new - have to have - toy was tossed to the bottom of the toy chest once the novelty had worn off.  When it came to fancy brand name clothes (as they got older) the items of clothing weren't valued or cherished - they were worn and tossed into a pile at the bottom of the closet.  In fact one time I remember a daughter leaving lipstick in a pocket and throwing the offending item of clothing into the wash.  I remember her dad's white shirts being ruined with lipstick stains - AND her must have item of clothing as well.

I pulled my hair out.  All the shouting, lecturing, punishing did nothing to improve the girls attitude towards these luxuries - the must have luxuries.

Then I had a light bulb moment.  My parents weren't so mean after all!  There was method to their madness.  That bike that I wanted and paid half for - well it lasted me well into my adult years.  It was washed and polished and cherished.  The money I paid in rent......... well my dad had been banking it.  And when the day came that I wanted to get married - and wanted all these new clothes to start my new life, he went to the bank and emptied the account.  

No my parents hadn't been misers - they had been teaching me a valuable lesson.  And so I decided that it was way past time to teach my girls the same lesson.  So - when it came to shopping for new clothes - I gave them a clothing allowance - the exact amount of money I would have spent on them.  I took them to the clothing stores and let them loose  - and when they discovered that the money wouldn't buy ALL the brand name clothes they HAD to have - they started to learn that valuable lesson too. 

I don't know if it is human nature - but I suspect it is - that when things are free they don't have as much value as when we have to scrimp and save to buy them.  

And I think that lesson is a vital one to producing healthy responsible adults.  I also believe that that lesson carries through to all aspects of our lives.  Tomorrow I would like to look at the value we place on ourselves .......... and how it affects our well being - our life and our happiness.

1 comment:

Ordalie said...

Golly, Morningstar! I'm so glad you've written this post!
I think the way you educated your children was absolutely right !!!
I surely am an old geezer (the dictionary says the word is only for men but what the hell?). I'm almost ten years older than you are, but what amazes me is the awfully selfish behavior of those youngsters.
My father was a primary school teacher, my mother didn't work; my sister and I knew money was tight even though nobody at home alluded to the fact. Therefore, we asked for nothing, we were clothed and fed, we never asked for anything more than was given us and we were neither rebellious nor deprived.
Can I say we were morally right?
What I know is that teenagers now don't seem to have any scruples about trying to get more and more out of their parents, even to the point of blackmailing them...
Dear God, it makes me so sad since I've seen that happen in my daughter's home.
How could things have changed so much?
And where is the moral that I thought was ingrained in us?