Honesty With My Boys
Being a parent is not the easiest job. It is fairly thankless, expensive, but it is the best thing I have done my entire life. Yes, I have made mistakes that stacked like baby blocks they were so numerous. And yet, three little guys worshipped me, yet how little they really knew me.
I have always sought honesty with them. Even with the subjects that neither of us wanted to discuss. Like condoms, drugs, sex... EVERYTHING! I have always bought into the idea that I would rather have them hear the real truth from me, than from their friends who got their knowledge from who knows where? This has led to some really uncomfortable moments, but I plunged ahead, because it was in their best interest.
So what about the mistakes we made as kids, or young adults? That is a tricky road. They have put us on pedestals, and there is a defining moment that we became humans. Transparent, flawed, people that have no real answers about the world, but we do have experiences, and that is priceless.
I have never been shy about the huge financial blunders Rob and I made when we were young. I now know in part, it was the silence of my parents that put me in some of the problems. They never taught me about credit, savings, when to buy, when to sell, all of it. They had money, not millions upon millions, but they have been comfortable, and I am happy they were. They paid for my college and that was truly a gift, that I now see, but didn't understand then.
When I became a nurse, we went from zero money, to what we felt was a pot of gold. It wasn't of course, and life showed us just how low in the pecking order we stood. This came at the worth of our credit, cars we couldn't afford, and credit cards we did not understand how to use, or what they were even for. Our credit score quickly dropped to double digits. We all paid a heavy price, but none steeper than the way the boys would look at us when they figured out what financial idiots we had been. It didn't help that at that time they went to a private school with other families that were well off. They stuck out, and there isn't a kid who wants to be odd man out. My parents paid their tuition, or they wouldn't have been there. That is a painful truth the entire rich kids groups knew, and it made the boys ashamed.
I have a very open relationship with them as they are now men. I have been extremely frank about our mistakes, because I don't want them to make the same errors we paid so heavily for. This has been expensive in the way they have viewed us. We are not Mommy and Daddy, that will fix it. We made moves that affected how they viewed our family, and that makes me sad. But they were necessary tears.
It is truth that they will run their lives based on the model I place for them. I hate having to admit the things we did, but if they don't hear it from me, than who? I charge the oldest guy rent, not because I want to, but he needs to understand budgeting. I drive am old VW, because I love the car, and they see the expenses that are saved because I don't buy a new car. Kate is much wiser than I and set up college funds. It won't pay for their entire colleges, but it will help.
As I take stock of where the boys are, I am pleased I laid my life as a road map for them to go the opposite way. They do have an understanding of credit, savings, and debt. I hope they never have the pain of turning a car in because it was a stupid purchase they could not afford. They did watch me build up credit again, and saw it wasn't easy, but I bet they don't walk that road.
Don't worry about what your kids learn as truth. Especially when it puts us parents in a poor light. It is for their good, and if they don't repeat our mistakes, the pain of the looks they gave are well worth it. I have learned to have no shame. I have made every mistake, and I have been brutally honest. I think of all of our decisions, and honesty was the best one we made. The boys are doing well, and hopefully their falls leave scrapes not broken bones. Be real, and clear. That is a gift, and the men and women we have given birth to will thank us one day. The look? It will show pride at the judgement to be an open book. And their story should be much better.
I am proud of parenting, and I am proud of three boys who see their parents as flawed but truthful. Have a good life boys. I will be there to answer anything. Because I need you to know.