Monday, April 16, 2012

Feeding the Beast

And knowing when to stop.  As a mom to 3 teenagers, THIS above all else is my downfall.
Probably my biggest struggle with my kids is NOT caving into my desire to give them everything they want.  And I try and pick and choose and do so with purpose.

A good example:  Miss Me jeans.  I will NOT buy them for my daughter(s), nor will I allow them to spend their money on them.  YES, this causes issues in the house and I know MANY people who will say "pick your battles" and that I have chosen poorly in picking this battle.  I see this differently.  I have no problem with designer clothes.  What I have a problem with is setting a standard that NEITHER of us can afford to maintain.  I also know my girls enough to know that they will automatically set this as a standard and, they WILL expect maintenance.  I also find that paying $120 for a pair of jeans when I could probably find 3 pair of Silver jeans for the same price (on sale) to be foolhardy for someone attempting to raise 4 kids (3 teens), one of whom is leaving for college in 4 months, on one salary.  So, ultimately you have to find balance.  But in their mind, you will be the parent of "no".

And so, we struggle.  And we pick our battles and rewards.  Which leads me to today's post.  You'll have to bear with me because I know I'm going to be somewhat contradictory in my thinking.

So, a couple weeks ago my older girls had a once in a life time opportunity to do a meet and greet with their most favorite band of all time.  I have my concerns, as noted above, about opportunities like this but since it was more of a time drain than a money drain, I was OK with it.  Little did I know that it would escalate as soon as we found out on Friday that One Directi♥n was going to be July of 2013.  NO...that is NOT a typo.  A year from this July.  OH, and presale tickets went on sale Saturday morning.  And that it where the issues sprouted.  My oldest daughter, the one who can't keep a penny in her pocket, wanted VIP tickets.   At a cost of $350 which she, who is currently jobless, plans to reimburse me.  At this point, I drew that line in the sand and said no.  I maybe, MAYBE, might have considered it had she shown me ANY willingness to save.  At all.  ANY.  But she hasn't. So,  the parent of no stepped in. No, she wasn't going to spend what would probably be close to the cost of a fall wardrobe on one night at a concert where she will be one of 60000 screaming teenage girls who will mean ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to these boys.  I wouldn't be part of it.

I did however attempt to compromise by working in concert with the rock star aunt/SIL who got the meet and greet tickets to get pre-sale tickets for the girls and while I failed, SIL was again the rock star, succeeding in obtaining tickets.  They WILL be purchasing these tickets, not me.  So, they WILL see their band, they just won't be in the first 3 rows,  and they will be paying 1/4 of the VIP tix to do so.

This is my struggle as a parent and how I find myself caving to their wants and contradicting the values I want for them.  I want my kids to be able to experience things that other teenagers do, but I want them to appreciate them and understand that this opportunity is NOT the norm.  Unfortunately for me (and them), getting them to understand that IS the battle.  They do NOT get to hit every concert that comes into town.  That I'm NOT going to provide them with $120/pr jeans.   Just wanting an ipod Touch (or a smartphone) does not mean that I need to rush out and buy you one (THAT is what birthdays and Christmases are for, IF there is also a need) That just because they've "been there done that" in Mexico, does NOT mean that they get to plan where we go next, or even IF they get to go.  Turning 16 does NOT ensure that we hand over keys to an automobile to them.  The sad part is that I really don't think they grasp any of this.  Just that they want what they want because they want it when they want it and I am the fool that has inadvertently set the standard. By wanting them to have that which I didn't.

And the tough(er) part is watching their peers and their families and seeing that I really AM the parent of NO when you do a side by side comparison (should I?  Probably not.  But one has to do something to gauge one's results).  Most of these kids DO wear Miss Me jeans, and are given cars, and provided itouches (or smartphones), and hit every concert, and they do so with the expectation that this is their "due".

I have to wonder, am I part of the problem?  Am I feeding the beast even though I almost always temper their rewards with, "this is special and NOT the norm"?  Is the barn door open now and their expectations running rampant?  Is it possible to corral that horse again, or at least attempt to bridle it?  Will it do any good?

C.S. Lewis said "Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil."  So I will continue to be the parent of no.  To instill values into my kids.  To persevere when my children fail to see the blessings before them.  Because to do otherwise would create an even MORE entitled generation than the one that is currently out there.



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