Teenagers and the Unemployed Parent


I am sick and tired of being sick and tired. How many times have any of us said that in our lifetimes?

Sick of feeling every nerve ending in my body scream when I move. Tired of feeling like a five-minute walk will exhaust me. I’m sick of being broke, and tired of having to tell my kids no – to even a pack of gum because we have no money.

It’s been almost a year since I was laid off from my job, and with hundreds of copies of my resume out there, all I get are small freelance projects to do. Same with the hubster – it’s just not a good job market, again why we are moving away from this dead and dying town.

When we were both working, life was good – the kids pretty much got what the wanted and all of them had  a little money all the time. Now, it’s a lot different, we have to scrutinize our budget so tightly. They each get a vote in one “entertainment” purchase for the family each month, and that’s about the extent of their ability to spend money now.

I know that in all of this my kids are learning a valuable lesson. They are learning that money does in fact not grow on trees. They are learning that if you want something bad enough, you will save for it. Impulse buying is not something done, or even understood around here. Every purchase is carefully thought out and discussed – right down to garbage bags.

While in a way I feel guilty for subjecting my children to financial woes as teenagers, because they totally don’t have enough problems, I also see the good in doing so. The bad is that I have to tell them no when they want something; the good is that they understand, really understand the value of a dollar.

Rarely do the things they get wind  up damaged. If they do it is generally through no fault of their own – that’s what little brothers are for… don’tcha know… They realize how much effort it took for us to provide an item, so they generally take pretty good care of it. I think Our Girl would literally implode if something happened to her laptop! She treats that thing like it’s a baby. They’re both that way, Our girl and guy – they know that if something is broken, it cannot be replaced – take care of it or lose it. Simple enough.

Sometimes, I wish that things were not this way – that we had more, I could give them more. However, to establish value in something, there has to be a basis of understanding. If they grow up understanding that if you really want something you have to work hard for it then maybe, just maybe they’ll succeed in this world. I think that “doing without” is instrumental in creating a sense need for success.

While we all want to give our children better than we had, sometimes the lessons they learn are far more important than the material things they obtain. Yes, it would make me feel like a success if I was able to provide my kids with cell phones, iPod touch’s, and unlimited spending money. However, my children would not learn what it means to have to save their money. They are learning now to be patient and wait for the things they want.

I also know that this current financial situation will not last forever, and that both the hubster and I will get back to work, and that the kids will  not have to go without the little nonsense  luxuries like candy, and gum. I’ll be glad when those days return, but I am grateful for the here and the now, that is teaching my children the value of saving money, and living on a budget.

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