Remember when you were younger (much younger) and you thought your life was crap?
Fast forward 40 years or so and look back. Turns out it was pretty damn awesome and you don’t remember being miserable about all the things you didn’t have.
I recently posted a TBT (Throw Back Thursday) picture on my Facebook page that showed a 22 year old me sitting on a couch with a rug hanging on the wall behind me. The rug was the old standard Dogs Playing Poker rug that we all make fun of now. The post got a lot of play and resulted in over a dozen personal emails sharing their nostalgia.
Truth is, those beginning days were harsh. The one bedroom apartment I barely squeezed into was furnished with rented furniture from Abbey Rents. My shelves were cinder blocks with pieces of wood between them and my lighting was cheap and gaudy iron hanging lamps purchased in Tijuana, Mexico. Not exactly the Taj Mahal.
Yet, it felt like a palace to me. It was my own place with all my own stuff paid for with my own money. I had big plans for myself back then. I don’t ever remember doubt being in the mix. Maybe it’s a sentiment that comes from having no place to go but up.
My car was a used Volkswagen Bug that I purchased for $800. It was clutch drive, had no seat belts and the air conditioning was the wing windows up front. Man, I loved that car. And I was so proud of myself for being able to buy it.
In those days, once you left home, you didn’t return. That door was closed. You either made it, or you ended up on a friend’s couch until you did.
Today, an estimated 65% of young adults between the ages of 18 to 24 return home at some point. This was nearly unthinkable back in the day.
It was made very clear to me that I couldn’t expect any financial help from my parents once I left home. Mostly because they didn’t have it to give. Most of my generation found themselves in the same boat. Wealthy families excluded.
Today an estimated 59% of parents provide some kind of financial support for their adult children who are no longer in school. There is such a generational gap in thinking and expectations. I think we, as parents, infused it.
We wanted to give our kids everything we didn’t have. The big house, their own room, a car when they came of age, nice clothes, lavish Christmas presents, and family vacations. You know, a good life. Boomer parents were very willing to make sacrifices for their kids, along with assurances they would be there for them until they got on their feet.
Maybe we gave too much. As a friend of mine recently stated with solid assurance, what we did, we did out of love. He’s right.
But did we do them a dis-service? Are kids today too dependent?
Is it any wonder that so many of our children grew up feeling entitled? These days, expecting to have nice things and not thinking twice about asking for financial help to acquire them, is somewhat norm for Millennials.
Many of the kids born between 1982 and 2000 will never know what it is like to make do with what you have, until they have the money to buy better. Second hand furniture, clothing, cars, and less than beautiful home amenities is simply not on their radar.
I feel bad about that. There’s a lot to be said for scrimping, saving, doing without, eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and Mac & Cheese for weeks, buying your own stuff with your own money and getting ahead by your wits, imagination, money and resolve. There’s a lot more to be said about coming from less, and making it to more, all on your own.
I don’t doubt that our kids are capable of it. Not for a second. They are just smart enough to know that they don’t have to.
Too bad really. Those rough and tumble days …. those were the glory days. The days that will be treasured, remembered with the greatest of smiles, and toasted with a shot of tequila with good friends many years later.
Those were the days that proved our worth. Something we can always fall back on knowing.
And we are the better for it.