Our Parents Want Us To Spend More

Here's a Switch!

Here is a topic I think we'll be seeing more of from my generation (people in their late 20's-early 30's): What do you do when your frugal lifestyle conflicts with your parents' values? My father worked hard all his life (and put himself in amazing debt) to achieve an upper-middle-class lifestyle with all its accoutrements. He and my mother tell me they worry constantly because my husband and I are raising our child on one income in a small apartment. Now they are putting pressure on us to enroll our son in an expensive pre-school -- and I feel myself getting guilty enough to do it! How do we (lovingly) get across to them that our son will be okay living the life we have chosen?

We Did It...And It Worked!

We are in your father's generation. When we first started out, we both worked full time, one was enrolled in college and the other did whatever she could to save money. We hoped to buy a house within five years, have a child and have the wife stay at home, so living frugally was very important. First I left my job so that I could have a lot of bed rest. After two years a son was born and I stayed home with him. The husband worked full time and continued in school. We brought our first house after 4 years. I still stayed home with the child. He didn't go to pre-school, and started kindergarten at the age of 4 1/2. He could read at a first grade level, add simple numbers, knew his full name, address and phone number. He also could write them. He was much better off then the other children most of who could do none of these things. He is now a Phd. candidate, married and we still pay all of his school expenses and then some. Not only are we happy to do it, but by living frugally, we were able to buy a second home, have no debts, and will be able to retire early. Although we do not need to live frugally now, we still do. It is a way of life, so now we can give to the next generation now and watch it being used and that in the end we will be able to leave something to them for the next generation. The most important thing is to watch the next generations go on, and on, and on.

Tell your dad that an expensive pre-school is not a necessity but a life style. Tell him to remember that all of his things are just stuff, and the important things and love and kindness. His debts will catch up with him someday and that is what he is leaving to you and yours. Much better to leave love.
P.S. Our son also has no debts, and no student loans, and neither does his wife.

Invite Them to Buy

I'm writing in response to the "here's a switch" dilemma... my parents still suffer through this. They think our children are going without too much... they had the same ideas about our oldest needing pre-school (which isn't cheap)... I simply told them that I did lots of things with the children at home, but if THEY felt it was really needed (and the parents don't mind) then suggest they pay for it. That's exactly what my parents did... my son enjoyed it, however, they didn't see the same need for my following 2 sons... they learned their own lesson! Now, when they make me feel guilty about having wants (since they aren't really needs) I let them know that they are free to contribute and that I'm sure the kids won't mind.

It's Your Choice

You might try passing along a copy of the book by Richard Swenson, M. D. titled "Margin." This presents the value of rethinking the cost/benefit of our consumerism-driven culture.

The idea of quality time with children vs. quantity time for them has received attention from experts & refutes the idea that a particular pre-school would be preferable to ample parental attention. The fancy pre-schools are sometimes a salve to the conscience of parents with little personal time to expend on their children.

Your parents' choices were theirs to make &, likewise, you have yours.

Explain Your Priorities

I have had a similar problem with my parents who have raised their eyebrows at some of the fugal livestyle choices my husband and I have made. I have always found that by calmly and clearly stating that I realise the concern comes from the love and care they have for us as a family then outlining the long term goals we have as a family especially the ones which fit the expectations that my parents have ie. homeownership tertiary education for the children etc . They can at least come to accept if not enthusiasticly support our choices. An other alternative is to suggest that if it is so important to them that your child go to this pre school then maybe you pay what you have bugeted for preschool education and they pay the balance. If they are not prepared to consider this then you blame your budget and simply tell them it is an expense you can't sustain at this time and still achieve your other long term goals.
Jane H

We Did It, Too

You are doing wonderful by trying to live frugally and one of you staying home with your son! Don't back down and give in. It's nice that you have learned by your parents' mistake of overspending.

I have three children and all have received excellent educations in the public school systems. They are all A students and I don't feel a private school would have done it any better! Don't let your parents make you feel guilty. By being home with your child and supplimenting his learning at home...you are doing more for him that an expensive preschool could.

I quit my job almost 4 years ago to be with my kids. We REALLY cut corners all the time, but I couldn't be happier. Being with your child is SO much more important than working just so he'll have more toys! I am very proud of how much we do with our income, I like being frugal. And my kids have certainly reaped the benefits of having one parent at home. Stick to it!!

Don't Feel Guilty

This is in regards to the young mother who is feeling pressure to send her young child to preschool. She stated that they are living on one income which means that she stays home to care for the child (I'm assuming) then she is already giving that child a wonderful upbringing. I'm sure he gets plenty of love, attention and stimulation he needs. Unfortunatly many infants and children today are left in daycare or similar situations because their parents won't or simply can't stay home to care for them. This I strongly feel has left an indelible mark on our youth contributing to violence and drug use. My husband and I made a decision when our son was born that I would stay home to care for him. Now we manage on half our previous income, but we feel we're doing the right thing. You should be proud of yourself because you're doing the thing you know is best for your child. There are many other groups you could get in contact with who have play groups or other outings where your son can learn and socialize. This would help to prepare him for Kindergarten. So ,please don't feel guilty.

We Converted Our Parents

I experienced a similar situation with my parents. My parents worked hard and struggled for many years and now live very comfortably. They did not want me or my children to experience the struggle and hardships they had endured. They wanted us to have everything and could not understand when I chose to lead a very simple and frugal lifestyle. I tried everything to make them understand but nothing worked. They made me feel guilty and tried to pressure me into placing my sons in private schools, etc. In the end I sat them down and explained that I loved them for trying to protect my sons and I but that I wanted my sons to have everything I had been given. I also explained to them that when I had experienced those struggles with them I felt very close to them and I appreciated the little extras that much more. They no longer pressure me and just the other day my mother told me she is proud of the way I am raising my children and how much they appreciate what they have.

A Different Mindset

Just tell them that you cannot put yourselves in a position where you owe money knowing that you cannot pay it back. It's like mortgaging your lives. It is astonishing how many people today buy everything "on time" with no thought as to how the money will be paid back. In the end it all catches up with them causing major stress, physical sickness, bankrupty, and even suicide. You are on the right track - good luck!

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