As parents, we have a lifetime of moments to, not only live our beliefs, but to teach them to our children. Sometimes we fail. Sometimes we succeed. Other times, we succeed BY failing. Last week was just one of those moments.
Brittany called Mark from college. As all college aged offspring (not children, because they’re grown) are wont to do, she was calling for money. Since Mark hasn’t had steady income in 14 months, we’ve been hit pretty hard by the down economy. No matter what our initial instincts are, we simply don’t have extra money to send right now.
Mark was upset for the entire evening, feeling like a failure as a parent and provider, until I started probing into things a little bit.
- I asked “What would your parents have done if you’d called home for money when you were in college?” He replied “I worked 60 hours a week in college. I didn’t call home for money.”
- I suggested that she try to get a part time job. He said “I suggested that too, but she doesn’t want to. She’s worried that she won’t be able to get time off to go home for the holidays if she works retail.”
- I asked how she was spending money for sorority functions and socializing with friends if she needed money. He said “She said she didn’t budget properly.”
HOLD IT! You worked and didn’t ask for money in that same situation. She doesn’t want to get a job because it cuts into her travel schedule. She freely admits that she blew money on crap and didn’t handle her responsibilities first. And YOU feel bad that you can’t send money?
If Mark was still working and making good money, our initial reaction would have been to send money and Mark would have half heartedly lectured her about being more careful with her money. Since our finances aren’t in a place where we can do that, it forced us to both evaluate the situation more closely.
It’s HARD not being able to reach out and lift your children up when they stumble, but it’s the only way they learn to stand on their own. In our hearts, we’re enablers. We want to enable our children to have it easier than us. In our minds and actions, we’re no longer those squishy people. We hope.
What about you? Are you finding it hard not to say yes to your grown children’s wants? What are you doing about it?