Monday, June 08, 2009

Lessons in Life

Well, I've grown to learn that the only bad mistake is one that I didn't learn from, and I've been doing a lot of learning lately. Most of it centers around my children and the silver spoon they think is in their mouth. I couldn't be more fed up with the middle class snobs I seem to have raised. How does that happen, anyway?

I grew up poor. No question about it. I've got plenty of vivid memories to remind me. There was a clothes dryer and refrigerator in my bedroom because our house was so small. We got everything we needed for the year at Christmas from my mom saving her change all year. I started working at 11 doing babysitting jobs and held a job with a check ever since I was 14 years old. I was a teen mom that had my own apartment in high school and graduated with my class. I was editor-in-chief of the yearbook, student of the month, and held down a job while raising my baby and attending high school. I went to college and business school. I was a single mom for years. I worked my way up in life. Sometimes it seems all for not.

How is it that two working class citizens with strong work ethics and a descent set of morals can raise such ignorant, ungrateful, self-centered, clueless children? It is a question that won't soon be answered for me, I am sure. I've got four girls out of the house and on their own all taking the hard way, in no uncertain terms.

All of our children were offered the same opportunity. Stay at home, work and go to school, save your money, buy a car, and step out on the right foot with a bankroll and a solid investment portfolio to hold you up. I was so proud to have the means to offer this to SEVEN children when it couldn't even be considered for me as a child. Do you know that not a one of those four girls took us up on it? Not a one! They all have children and are single moms. None of them have graduated college, save one that went to business school. They are all making terrible decisions that go against anything we have ever advised, taught, or modeled. Guess who they want to clean up the mess and pick up the pieces when it all blows up in their faces? What no guesses? Oh, I'm sure you'll get it on the first try. It couldn't be more obvious.

Why is it that these children, young adults now, think they are owed so much and do not have a clue about working hard and respecting the fact that their parents are out there working hard. They have to support one child, except the one that just had twins, and we support seven children and six grandchildren. Granted the burden has lightened with less mouths to feed on a daily basis, but I'd rather be feeding them than dealing with all the bologna they've been slicing. The way I see it the middle class lifestyle spoiled them. They'd have been better off to have been brought up with nothing. It's not like just one of them doesn't get it. All of our girls have their heads somewhere that does not provide enough oxygen for clear thinking.

I have to say that I am not a fan of parenting adult children. The good thing is that hubby and I are learning that we don't really care to do anything much other than nod and smile at this point. After this last deal is done no one better come a calling, because the shop is closed. Quite literally. They have taken advantage of us so much that we don't even want to help with the smallest of things. I'm so disgusted with them all that I can scarcely look at them. It's all I can muster to carry on a conversation. I'll spare you all the gory details, but I am not out of line here. Rest assured. When it gets to the point that good gestures and helping hands are taken for granted then it's time for those hands to let go.

Just to add insult to injury the youngest girl, 19 years old, that is at home, working, going to college, and failing all her classes. Talk about a frustrating year. She graded herself right out of any hopes of financial aide or mom and dad footing the bill any longer. This isn't from lack of ability by any stretch. It's from lack of effort, and that is just disheartening. Now, she needs to determine just what it is that she plans to do. This may no longer be her residence by the end of the summer. It wouldn't surprise me in the least, and so be it. I'm not losing any sleep over it anymore. We have handed her the world on a silver platter, and she spit on it as far as I'm concerned. It's frustrating, but it seems she may need to take a course at the school of hard knocks, and I've learned enough to be okay with that.

The boys are okay so far. I still have to kick them in the butt to get their school work done, but they watch their sisters and just don't get it at all. Hopefully, their ambitions stay ambitious, and their drive stays in gear. Otherwise, we'll have some more casualties at the Smith household, and I don't know how much more I can take. I've reached a state of numb. There's nothing like kids to make you feel like a failure even though you know you gave it your all and provided them with a golden opportunity.

The toughest lesson to learn is that you are not responsible for the decisions your children make. It's the whole, "You can lead a horse to water..." thing in full swing. I led them. I flashed neon signs. I sent up smoke signals. I chartered aerial banners. I purchased billboards. I led the fight, but they didn't follow. No matter how much I tried, I couldn't make them drink.


Karen, author of "My Funny Dad, Harry" said...

I feel bad for you. It's difficult when your children do not turn out as you hoped but it sounds as though you parented as best you could and that's all you can do. Perhaps in time, your daughter will come around. Sometimes it takes longer for some to mature and start making good decisions. Hang in there and keep on praying for your kids.

Tina said...

Karen - You mentioned something very important that I should have included in my post, and that is prayer. It is by far the number one most important part of parenting, and I most certainly do pray for the children as well as the grandchildren.

Split Rock Ranch said...

And all this helps us understand why some animals eat their young... Just kidding. Don't beat yourself up. You gave it your all. I think it is society "to blame" for the entitlement attitude of not only children but a lot of adults in this country as well. Which is very frustrating for those of us raised to believe that the only way to get ahead in this world is to work hard for it. You and your family are in my thoughts.

Tina said...

Thank you SO MUCH for commenting! You actually made me laugh out loud. I think that is the most valid point that has been made so far. ;-) Thank you for your kind thoughts. I have given it much consideration of the years, and I do not accept the blame for their decisions. The influence that society has is tremendous, and I just have to accept that we are not their biggest much as we wish we were.

sheila said...

You and hubby should run away in the middle of the night, but you probably can't afford it since you keep bailing out the kids. On another note, I used to be your kids, single mom, had a hard time paying all my bills and was always borrowing money from mom and dad. But, because I had a good, solid foundation because my parents raised me right I eventually came into my own. I've been married for 11 years, worked for 10 and haven't asked my parents for money in about 12 years. Your kids will come around. I think sometimes kids are scared to grow-up and live on their own. Some kids are ready for independence young and some just aren't no matter how hard you push them.

Tina said...

Sheila - You couldn't be more right, and don't even get me started on the last incident! I'm glad to hear that you are a success story. The thing of it is that we wouldn't mind helping if it was appreciated, but the way we are treated sure stings and makes one want to just close the door and turn the lights off. My husband and I have both been on our own and independent since we were teens, so we really cannot relate to this entitlement mentality. It's tough lessons all the way around; the kids and us!


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