“Life isn’t fair.” I can’t tell you how many times I heard those words from my mom as I was growing up. I was definitely not one of those spoiled only children. I had chores when I was 6. When I turned 16 I was told if I wanted a car I would have to get an after school job to pay for it. And when I was commuting to college I had to help pay rent. Somehow I managed to hold down a 20 hour/week waitressing job, take on an internship and still manage to graduate college with a 3.8 average. Did this cause me any mental duress when I was older? Nope. In fact, just the opposite. I realized at a very young age that some people will have fancier cars, bigger homes and nicer wardrobes and that’s just the way it was. Life isn’t always fair.
What it did do is make me more capable of handling the challenges life threw my way as an adult. I moved to Los Angeles when I was fresh out of college, found a job and apartment and made my way on my own. I weathered some of the toughest challenges in my life – a child dying, another with special needs, an ugly divorce and a new husband with multiple sclerosis. I already understood that life isn’t fair – and sometimes it actually sucks.
Now, I live in an extremely affluent town. Well, it appears to be, but looks are deceiving. People have lived beyond their means and layoffs are draining bank accounts. Stress has taken a toll on marriages and women are being forced to figure out how to raise their kids as single moms. I’m hearing time and again how parents are worried about telling their kids the truth about their new financial circumstances. They don’t want them to have to give up their five after-school activities or possibly wear clothes that aren’t the same designer label as their friends. And, they might even have to start doing chores. I’m always shocked at how often parents come to pick up their kids from my house and tell me how amazed they are that my kids are expected to help out around the house and don’t even get an allowance for it. Hey, if I’m expected to do laundry, cook dinner and clean toilets without getting paid for it, they’re sure as heck not going to!
While our kids should be somewhat shielded from horrific events such as the Colorado massacre, when it comes to circumstances within our families, they need to know. And they need to realize that life isn’t always fair, moms and dads can’t always afford to pay for everything they want and yes, they will be expected to help out in the family. That’s what life is about and that’s what they’ll be dealing with when they get older.
Several months ago my step daughter had the audacity to suggest I move to a more affordable town so that we could give her more money towards her college tuition. When I suggested she get a job to help out she told me that it wouldn’t be possible as she had soccer practice every
day. She’s now learned the realities of life and I doubt she’ll ever make that comment to me again!
What’s your theory – are kids turning out to be wimps because we’re sheltering them?