To be fair, one’s relationship with money, like parenting and marriage, is wrought with complexities and insecurities . . . and shaped in some form by childhood experiences.
I grew up in suburbia where parents had to drive their children everywhere they went, phones calls to friends were made from a now relic that hung from the kitchen wall and the heights of fashion could only be purchased at the mall in the neighbouring town. Mass consumerism, as we know it today was just starting to trickle down to the teenagers who loitered at the local Hasty Market.
Before the break for summer and the return to school would mark the bi-annual shopping trips my mother would host for my brother and me. We knew she’d be picking up the tab these times but if we wanted anything else during the year we’d either have to add it to our Christmas list or make a good case for it.
“Convince me,” she used to say. That was our cue to lay it on thick and stop just short of begging.
Everything we could ever need plus most extras was generously paid for. We were never given an allowance but we had jobs that paid money. The decision was left to me whether the price of a $7 movie ticket was worth two hours of babysitting the five snotty-nosed Snider children who made me earn every cent of the $3.50 per hour their father would give me at the end of the night.
While studying at university I worked at a resort in Muskoka for the summer months. I learned more than the difference between a “stay” and an “out” the year I worked as a chambermaid. By the end of the fourth month I could fold a king-sized fitted bed sheet like nobody’s business and I also learned that making minimum wage breaking my back cleaning up after families on vacation was not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. The local women I worked with too, would remind me of the privilege of a university education and for years after I had moved on would ask about me.
I remember being asked by a friend why I bothered to work three jobs when I was in university since my parents were paying for my tuition. It was something that I couldn’t explain; it was just something that I did. By encouraging me to work, my parents gave me something more than whatever material goods I desired at the time. They gave me a solid footing on which to ground myself.
In these times of rampant consumerism and buying on credit, it sounds trite to say, but my parents taught me the value of a dollar, how to budget and how to save for what I want.
Of course being a mother changes everything and the child-rearing rhetoric that I spouted off before having young children has come full circle.
We don’t pay our boys for doing chores. They are members of our family and therefore must contribute to our household. We don’t pay for grades. We hope to encourage self-motivation and decrease some of the innate competition that exists between them. We will encourage them to work and to reap the riches that those experiences will bring – many of which cannot be counted.
The boys are still young. It’s impossible to say that we will never give them an allowance or sweeten the end of the school year with a congratulatory bonus because if I know anything about parenting, it’s to never say never.
photo credit: http://www.good.is