A few weeks ago I tweeted: It may have seemed unfair at the time, but I’m glad my parents made me work and pay for non necessities (like a car) it made me responsible.
One of the biggest things I owe my parents is thanks for lessons that may have seemed unfair at the time, but actually shaped me into a responsible, independent adult.
Example 1: My parents didn’t take my sister or me to get our ears pierced at 18 months, like many of their peers. They waited until we were 12, for two reasons. They deemed 12 to be an age where we were capable of deciding whether we even wanted to have pierced ears and at 12, they deemed we would be responsible enough to care for them on our own (you know the cleaning and turning). For my sister’s 12th birthday, she got her ears pierced. I was almost nine and I really, really wanted mine done too. At some point, my parents discussed with me the responsibility involved and I had to wait three whole years before I got mine pierced for my 12th birthday. (Then at 15 my mother agreed to sign for me to get another set of holes in my ears.)
Example 2: We had chore charts with stickers and when a chore on the list was done, we got a sticker on the chart. When the chart was full, we got a book of our choice. I loved reading so the next book in the series I was reading was a true reward.
Example 3: As we got older, our parents encouraged us to get part time jobs. I kind of stumbled into my very first job at age 14 (back when minimum wage was $5.15 per hour). I only worked a couple of hours each weekend assisting with a children’s safety class, but having a paycheck to deposit in my account was awesome! My parents had taught me to save a long time before that by requiring that a part of the Christmas money my grandfather sent be put in the bank (for the rest, I was allowed to pick out a present and then I had to write him a thank you letter and tell him what I picked out).
Example 4: The rule was that if you wanted a driver’s license and a car at 16, you would work to pay for drivers education and you would save up for a car. Shortly after my 16th birthday (and after the speech season ended) I was able to take an accelerated-schedule driver’s education course and my dad took me out to look at cars. I was proud of my first car and proud to have my license. Driving at age 16 wasn’t a parent-supplied right, it was an earned privilege.
Sometimes my parents’ rules didn’t seem fair. Especially when I was seeing my classmates in high school being given the things they wanted (like cars, designer purses, etc) by their parents.
It’s sad to hear my generation be described as feeling entitled because for me it’s not the case. However, I get it. I know my peers and I saw the lessons that many of them haven’t learned (or learned too late).
In college, it was frustrating to have to go to bed early on a Friday night to be at work at 7:30 Saturday morning. But it was motivating to work hard for my scholarships and for a future career. I understood that I was paying good money to be there and make the most of it. The fact that I don’t have to work a frustrating evening and weekend job now is wonderful, I don’t trudge through my hours just to put them in. I like what I do and I get paid to do it.
The thoughts in this post were inspired by a conversation my husband and I had about what had happened over the past year and our plans for the future. I can’t imagine being where we are in life if I hadn’t married someone with the same sense of responsibility and work ethic. I remember shortly after we started dating, my dad told me that he liked Brad, thought he had a good head on his shoulders and appreciated that he understood the value of hard work.
Growing up is hard work and it’s not always fun, but the lessons seem much clearer to me in the rear view mirror.