When I first heard the news about the girl who decided to sue her parents for school tuition, my first thoughts were, “what is the world coming to?” Not only that, I knew like so many other cases in our judicial system, that this one would set a precedence for parents throughout the United States.
Growing up, my parents taught me three fundamentals of life:
- 1. If you wanted something you had to earn it.
- 2. In order to earn what you wanted, it takes hard work
- 3. Even if you didn’t agree with Mom and Dad’s rules, you still obeyed as long as you lived in their house.
When I was in high school, I didn’t think I could go to college. No one in my family had gone before me. I was the daughter of a dairy farmer, and by society standards I had been labeled “dirt poor.” Yet, despite going to a vocational school my junior and senior years of high school, I still went to college. Another one of those, if you go to a vocational school, then you’re not college material lies that society sets on us.
When it came time for college, I never expected my parents to pay for it. Why? Because of #1 and #2 fundamentals I’d been taught all my life. They didn’t necessarily have to be spoken aloud; they were there in our everyday life.
There is no credit on life.
When my ten year-old came to me and demanded that I buy her an iPod, I asked her why. She went on to tell me I had to buy her an IPod because her other friend had one and her parents had bought it for her. I told my daughter if she wanted an IPod she would have to save up her own money to buy it. But she didn’t have any money and said if I bought it now, she’d do extra chores. How many times have we heard that one before?
Well, not in our house. If you want something, you work for it now, and you pay for it later.
Whoever came up with the line about “keeping up with the Joneses” had to have been a retail marketing expert.
Paying It Forward
The years I went to college were not filled with memories of parties and hangouts. My days consisted of commuting to classes, working part-time, and studying at all hours of the night. When my classmates were headed to hang out in the lounge, I was headed to work or to the library.
When I graduated college, my student loans were less than half of the debt my other classmates had accumulated throughout the years.
Never once did I demand my parents pay for my college tuition.
Now that I look back at those years, I feel a great boost of self esteem. Not only did I go to college and graduate with a four year degree, but I paid my own way and I did it on my own.
Just like the odd jobs my ten-year-old did the summer before her eleventh birthday and saved up for that IPod she wanted.
It’s so much more valuable to her now, and then it would have been if we’d just given it to her.
Respecting the Rules
Waiting is an exceptionally hard thing, especially when you’re young. As a teenager, I couldn’t wait to wear make-up and go out on dates. I listened to the stories of other girls and their exciting tales of sneaking off to meet boys and fun things they did together in groups, and I couldn’t wait.
Like a calf getting ready to run out of the shoot, my sixteenth birthday couldn’t come fast enough. It meant make-up and movies with boys. It meant late night curfews and getting to drive a car.
While I got those things, they came with rules. Ones, which if got broken, resulted in the loss of those privileges.
Oh yes, life can seem so unfair when you’re sixteen and grounded. We’ve all been there a time or two, don’t deny it.
It’s understanding those frustrations, yearnings, and futuristic outlooks that motivate us, as parents, to govern our families and determine the type of family we want to establish for our children, not subjected to the whims of babes.
“We may not be able to prepare the future for our children, but we can at least prepare our children for the future.” Franklin D. Roosevelt
What is the one thing you wanted most as a kid and are now thankful you’re parents didn’t hand it to you?