Wednesday, May 22, 2013

THE CHALLANGE OF BEING A MIDDLE CLASS PARENT

Gimme..gimme...

Sometimes, particularly today, I get tired of the constant whine of the ask.

Dad, I need $12 for Turndown, can I have $10 for the Aquaarena, can I have $10 fir lunch today with my buddies, ddaad can we have some X-Box points or dad-dad can I download an app  and on and on it goes.

This is in top of big stuff like bikes, skateboards, scooters and sneakers. How many frigging pairs of sneakers do kids need anyway? I grew-up with a cheap pair of canvas sneakers for school and a pair for outdoors. It was as plain and as simple as that!

Expectation re through the roof. There is a sort of peer pressure, a keeping up with your peers that leaves parents completely at the mercy of others. We are assertive parents. We strike a balance. Video games are normally purchased with money given to them for presents. They certainly are not going with-out, but the outlay continues to grow.

Timmy gets a new bike and one of my guys wants a new bike, one of my guys gets a new deck for his scooter and Timmy puts pressure on his parents to do the same. I assume that this is something that we all face.

I have never been a keeping up with Joneses' type. I like to collect books, purchase the scattered board game and live in a modest house designed for raring three boys in. We don't smoke, we occasionally buy a bottle of wine and a family holiday is not an annual event. We pay for educational savings and trudge on. Our kids are our first priority.

Often we have sat across the table and discussed what we can cut back on. We are firm and stick to our guns on the extra programs and ensure they live up to the commitments of the things they are part of.

What we do invest in is programs that teach the boys respect, competition, hard work, rewards and self-confidence. The costs associated with this have meant plenty of sacrifices, but listening to Aidan deliver a solo, or Conor dance (or sing) and Liam nail down a hat trick at hockey last night elicits a flush of pride that is priceless but there are bills to be paid.

How expensive is it to raise kids? according to the Huffington Post, it will cost the average, middle class family approximately $235,000 to raise a child through the age of 17 today. That does not include post-secondary education costs.

Middle class families may struggle from time to time, we may have to make sacrifices. We can not keep up with the "Rich Kids". There is a limit to our resources. Finding that balance that reduces the financial stress, providing the boys with opportunities and keeping the family unit happy is a constant struggle.

Managing expectations, being willing and able to say no, and explaining why is very important. That said, I really hate that feeling when they look at you and say "but Timmy can." That is when I feel that there is no appreciation for what they have. That is when I feel that I have failed, not because we can not deliver, but because they do not understand the sacrifices we make, that we are not mean.

The endless requests will always be there, remaining firm, budgeting and keeping communications wide open should provide a road map for the future.








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