So, I’ve made a pact with myself to blog every day of 2012. I can’t say that they will all be funny or anything, as I’m not always a funny person. See previous blogs for evidence of non-funniness. But, they will be about things that bother, interest, disturb, or amuse me.
Today’s Topic: The lies they tell teens.
I have two teenaged step-daughters. One is 15 and one is 17. They like Facebook, television, talking on the phone, shopping, and hanging out with their friends. They do not like cleaning their rooms, eating on time, cleaning up their messes, or being told no. They also believe, I think, that ABC Family shows are the best thing ever and are, get this, true to life. Well, I’ve watched quite a few, unfortunately, and let me tell you that they are not true to life. They are just the opposite – they tells kids lies about how life really is.
Also, not true to life, and amazing I know are websites that tell teens how to beg for money from their parents. For college, for houses, for cars, for anything. Basically saying that teens are entitilted to these things because they are our children. Also untrue.
Let’s start with ABC Family. There is one show called The Secret Life of the American Teenager. This show is completely bogus. A pregnant teen isn’t always welcomed into her household with open arms. I had a friend years ago whose parents not only took her car away but made her walk about 3 miles to work every day because she was pregnant – at 18. She couldn’t afford to move out because the idiot who got her pregnant left her and didn’t pay anything. Her parents were not happy. This show tells kids, in a way, that the guy stays around and that the parents are somewhat okay with the whole thing. This is untrue.
Another show, Lying Game, is about a girl who finds her long-lost twin sister and pretends to be her. Now, I’m all about fun shows, but this one is just silly. The acting is horrible, as most teenaged shows are. The Brat Pack is no longer in existence, and John Hughes’ spirit is completely absent from the shows on television and the movies these days. That’s just sad.
The worst part is that every time my step-daughters watch these shows, they come away with an attitude. For a while, we thought it was simply because they are teens and have all the drama and everything going on. But, I’ve narrowed it down specifically to the times they watch these crappy shows for hours on end. It’s like they want that type of drama in their own lives, or that we don’t sympathize with the characters on the show. We don’t, and they won’t have that drama. Our household is very calm. We don’t do chaos around here. I certainly don’t need any other stress from television, much less crappy shows that only add to the angst of teens. ABC Family needs to be deleted from my cable lineup.
Also, certain internet websites lead to issues. One, which I found while searching for college application information, actually tells teens that their parents are responsible totally for paying for college, basically no matter how old the student is at the time he or she goes to college. Really? I don’t recall my parents being totally responsible for my college tuition or anything else. That’s why I graduated with over $27K in student loans and credit card bills. I’ve since paid it all of, but that took time and energy and an RJ (real job) which I scrambled to obtain. I worked my ass off during college, scraping dog poo (literally) while working in the back of a veterinary clinic. I also didn’t eat out every night, I didn’t join a sorority, and I certainly didn’t drive a brand-new car or have the newest fashions. I ate in the cafeteria. I cooked at friends’ houses. I worked. It wasn’t the free-for-all college experience that was portrayed in the movies, but it was a means to an end. This website actually tells teens that they should tell their parents that “they can afford it” and that “they can forgo that new car or a trip to Aruba”. What about retirement? For those of us who struggled to make it through college ourselves, had loans to pay off, and are just now (at 40) getting settled enough to save for retirement, we cannot afford to go back into debt to fund our children’s college education simply because they don’t want to work or don’t want to take out loans of their own. Plus, a lot of our parents didn’t save for retirement either, so we are getting it from both ends – the old and the young expecting us to care for all of their needs while forgoing any hope of retirement or happiness ourselves. Really? I say no. I say that I will help as much as I am able to, but that does not mean that I will send my kids to college with a credit card and say, “Just charge it and I’ll pay it off for you.” Um, no. What I will do is help them pay their tuition, as much as we can truly afford, and then force them to either work or get loans for the rest. If they want it badly enough, they need to find out that it doesn’t come for free.
The website also said that all families can afford to send their kids to college, it just takes some sacrifice. I totally disagree. This website was apparently written by someone making a lot of money a year, with friends who do the same. And forgoing a trip to Aruba? That won’t do it either. I made $28K a year, my ex-husband made $20K a year. We had a son. We also bought a house so that we would have equity and wouldn’t be throwing our money away on rent. We drove older cars. We purchased frugally. We NEVER went on vacation to anywhere, much less Aruba. Trust me…I could not have afforded to pay for $2000-5000 of tuition every semester. It would not have ever been possible. Even if we had eaten beans and rice every night of the week, it would have not have been possible. And, frankly, I’m not willing to do that just so my kids can go to college. They can eat beans and rice if they want to go without getting a job.
I know that some may think I’m harsh. Go ahead. I think I’m right. When you have been where I’ve been for most of your life, and your parents were in the same boat when you were growing up, it’s not easy to sit around and just “sacrifice” so your kids can go off and party at college. Do what I did. Get a job. Work around your school schedule. Eat simple and cheap meals. Don’t go out to eat. Don’t go to the movies. Don’t buy your boyfriend a $300 necklace for Christmas. You can do this if you really want to. I certainly am not going to sacrifice so that my kids can party it up at college while I sit and work all day to support their habits.
One final note on this. I do want our kids to go to college. I also want them to be successful. I simply will not work until I’m 90 because I went into debt to pay for it.
One other website said that parents should help their kids buy a house. So, now we’re raising them until they go to college, which we then pay for, then we help them buy a house. Um, no. How about they pay for that, too? I have a better idea. Don’t coddle them to the point that they never want to leave your house, and then when they do, wish them well, give them a nice housewarming gift, maybe a gift card to Lowe’s, help them fix up the place a bit (using their money and your muscle) and then move on with your separate lives. If you give them everything they want at home, and it’s free, then why in the world would they ever leave?